Ford Replaces US Marine’s Wrecked F-150 Raptor With a 720-HP Raptor R

A reckless Nissan driver smashed into the USMC Sergeant’s truck, and Bill Ford himself stepped in to gift him an upgrade.

byKristin V. Shaw|
4 men next to a truck


United States Marine Corps Sergeant Tyler Vargas-Andrews was in Afghanistan assisting with the evacuation of the Kabul airport after the Taliban takeover in 2021 when suicide bombers attacked, killing 183 people. Vargas-Andrews suffered horrific injuries and woke up a week later at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, recovering from wounds resulting from 100 to 150 ball bearings. Two of his close friends had died in the blast and he remained hospitalized for quite some time after two amputations: his right arm below the elbow and his entire left leg

As a gift to himself for surviving, Vargas-Andrews bought a 2023 Ford F-150 Raptor equipped with a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 good for 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. A couple of months ago, he says that truck saved his life in a crash when he was hit by a reckless driver.

Now retired, the former soldier told the Detroit Free Press that he took several cross-country trips in the Raptor from Virginia to California, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming for off-roading, putting the truck through its paces. The Raptor was Vargas-Andrews' pride and joy for a glorious five months until a driver in a 2017 Nissan Murano crashed into the truck. While the structure of the Ford truck kept the former Marine and his partner Victoria safe, his red Raptor was totaled.

Tyler Vargas-Andrews

Vargas-Andrews says he was stopped in traffic on the Interstate in Virginia on Thanksgiving Day last year when he saw a speeding black SUV in his rear view mirror getting closer and closer. There was no way for him to move or evade the imminent crash, and the Murano barreled in the truck from behind, sending the Raptor careening across multiple lanes of traffic and spinning it around.

State Troopers later told Vargas-Andrews that the SUV driver was charged with reckless/negligent driving, but that didn't bring his truck back to life. He posted about the incident on his Instagram account @whistlingdeath, tagging Ford and Ford Performance, and dozens of commenters chimed in to tag the company. It got the attention of Ford North America Product Communications Director Mike Levine, who helped pass the story up the chain to executive chair Bill Ford.


The great-grandson of Henry Ford got involved, inviting Vargas-Andrews to choose "the Raptor of his dreams" and come to Dearborn, Michigan for a visit. By the time Vargas-Andrews left Michigan, the 26-year-old had picked out a brand-new 2024 Raptor R, which boasts a supercharged V8 with 720 hp—a 270-hp upgrade over his old Raptor. In the process, he got to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Dearborn plant to meet Bill Ford, Ford CEO Jim Farley, and scores of Blue Oval employees.

The Virginia resident will take delivery at a local dealership after it rolls off the line sometime soon, and he says he is "beyond grateful."

"This truly left me speechless," Vargas-Andrews told the Detroit Free Press. "It's a small thing to them, but to me it's everything. I've got buddies that died within an arm's reach of me. I'm missing a plethora of my organs. And I don't take any day for granted. You get knocked down and it's how you choose to pick yourself up."

Nice job, Ford. It's good to see someone who deserves a break to get such a meaningful one.

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