HE is taking on a challenge inspired by a Hollywood movie to honour the courage of a friend terribly injured on the frontline.

Hampshire commando James Mazzoni-Dalton saw his pal Mark Ormrod go from being a top kick-boxer to a triple amputee aged just 23.

Now the Romsey soldier is running across America in honour of Mark’s courage and to help other injured servicemen.

The father-of-four is one of six British and American soldiers to take on The Gumpathon, a Forrest Gump-inspired trek through 16 states, covering 3,520 miles in 63 days.

The challenge will include Mark, now 26, who was severely injured by an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan in 2006, losing his right arm and both legs.

Staff Sergeant Mazzoni-Dalton, 34, of Meon Road, Halterworth, said: “It was a big shock when I found out. I couldn’t believe it.

“He was just 23, really developing into a young man.

“Before Help for Heroes was around there wasn’t the help in place for him that there is now for other soldiers so that’s what we’re doing it for.”

James flew out to New York yesterday in preparation for the start of the challenge on September 10 from USS Intrepid docked in Manhattan Harbour.

The group will face a road run through three deserts, four mountain ranges and Death Valley – ending at Santa Monica pier on November 11, Armistice Day.

While Mark will complete a mile each day on prosthetic limbs, the others will be running 16 to 22 miles a day in continuous relay.

They hope to raise £1m, which will be divided between injured servicemen’s charity Help for Heroes, the Royal Marine Charity Trust Fund and the US Marine Core Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

James, who has been with the Army for 13 years and is currently with the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery based at Plymouth, will fly out for his first tour of Afghanistan handling the internal flights next April.

Despite his fitness, James said he was expecting blisters and cramps, but this was nothing compared to Mark’s challenge.

He said: “Mark went from being at the top level of his chosen sport to being a triple amputee learning how to walk again.

“It was quite humbling to see the rehabilitation that goes on.

“The one thing I saw that inspired me was Mark’s commando spirit, his cheerfulness in the face of adversity.”

Log onto thegumpathon.com for more on James and Mark’s extraordinary challenge.