On November 21st, 2014, Captain Derek Herrera medically retired from Active Duty in the US Marine Corps after 8.5 years of service as an Infantry and Special Operations Officer. After graduating from the US Naval Academy in 2006 he has spent his first six years in the Marine Corps building and leading teams of Marines, Sailors and Soldiers in locations including Iraq, Haiti, the Middle East and Afghanistan. On June 14th, 2012, Derek was shot and paralyzed from the chest down while leading his Marine Special Operations Team on patrol in the Helmand River Valley, Afghanistan.
Derek never had any desire to be a motivational speaker, but has always tried to live in a way that would honor the men and women who have sacrificed to help him get to where he is today. Although his story is inspirational, he spends less time telling his story and more on living his life in an honorable way. Derek has begun to share some of the lessons he has learned with the hope that others can benefit from his experience.
“I am happy to share my story with people as long as they can be inspired by it and I can honorably represent the legacy of those that have gone before me…”
Since that day, Derek has overcome the emotional highs and lows of rehabilitation. Some notable achievements Derek has accomplished since his injury include:
Returned to work less than seven months after his injury.
Completed his first para-triathlon exactly 11 months after his injury.
Gained admission to the UCLA Anderson School of Management less than one year after his injury (where he was awarded the John Wooden Global Leadership Award)
Purchased the first exoskeleton (device that allows paraplegics to stand and walk) sold in America. Stood and walked to receive the Bronze Star (with combat distinguishing device) without assistance.
Met the last four Presidents of the United States of America.
Published an article for a major newspaper (Union Tribune San Diego)
Derek credits any recent success he has had to the support he has received from his family and form the positive outlook he has tried to maintain while rebuilding his life. His story is a personal testament to the value of mental toughness, emotional resiliency, and teamwork. Derek is able to communicate the value of these character traits in a simple, effective manner that is authentic and organic. If your organization is looking for someone who has built teams from the ground up, led them through the most chaotic and uncertain environments, and personally demonstrated the ability to recover from seemingly insurmountable odds, then look no further.
Some of the organizations, teams and businesses Derek has shared his story with include:
UCLA Anderson School of Management – Leadership Lecture Series
UCLA John Wooden Global Leadership Awards – Awards Dinner
NYU Stern School of Business – Leadership Speaker
Mater Dei High School – Experiential Leadership Consultant/Speaker
Bob Woodruff Foundation – Stand up For Heroes 2014 – (Only Veteran featured on stage at Madison Square Garden)
In the past few months, Derek’s story has been featured extensively in the media. There have been too many outlets to list but a few of the snapshots include:
ABC News with Byron Pitts
CNN with Kyung Lah
KCET LA PBS – SoCal Connected with Jennifer Sabih
Derek is incredibly passionate about making the world a better place. He truly believes that by sharing his story and personal experiences with other teams, organizations, and corporations, he can honor all of the men and women that he has served with. His hope is that the lessons he and other Veterans have learned over the previous decades of conflict can be used to motivate, inspire and teach people about selflessness, resilience and sacrifice for causes greater than themselves. If you are interested in having Derek speak for your business, team, or organization please fill out the contact form below.