A special kind of healing for wounded veterans

U.S. Army veteran Stephen Peterson, who lost his leg to an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, does a headstand while surfing in Huntington Beach.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

More than two dozen wounded veterans, surf instructors and volunteers participate in Operation Surf, a weeklong surf program in Huntington Beach. The program says it provides veterans with hopefulness, a re-discovering of abilities and self determination.

For many of the veterans, this is the first time they are taking on strenuous physical activity. The veterans arrived Sunday and were accompanied by a motorcade to Huntington Beach. Opening ceremonies were held Monday. The surfing program continues through Friday.

Wounded veterans join surf instructors and volunteers in the "Mayan handshake", an exercise on sharing space, before heading to the water. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
Derrick Ross and Leo Taramillo
Leo Taramillo helps stretch U.S. Army veteran Derrick Ross, lying on his back at center. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
A serviceman uses a prosthetic leg during a warm-up exercises. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
David Mahula and Max Seirson
Marine Sgt. David Mahula, left, whose leg was amputated, gets a hand from volunteer Max Seirson while surfing. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
Will McCarthy and Stephen Peterson
Veteran Will McCarthy, front, and Stephen Peterson, U.S. Army specialist, cheer as they ride a wave together. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
Martin Pollock
Martin Pollock surfs with help from a device he created to paddle. The former British Army rifleman lost his legs and part of his left arm to an explosion in Afghanistan in 2010. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
Marcus Cole
U.S. Army veteran Marcus Cole, center, catches a wave while flanked by a surf instructor and a safety volunteer. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times
Michael Muller and Ramesh Hatasingh
Air Force veteran Michael Muller, left, and Ramesh Hatasingh share a moment while others paddle out. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times