While much of the media attention regarding the War on Terror has focused more on Iraq than the originating battleground of Afghanistan, the battle there is still in full throttle. Specialist Daniel Wilkinson of Crosby, and a soldier in the United States Army experienced first hand the seemingly subtle intensity of this ongoing war. Shortly after 9/11, at the age of 29, Wilkinson was compelled to join the Army. The tragic events of that day incited him to be more than just a citizen of his country but an esteemed patriot. His first station of duty was a nine-month stay in Italy. From there, Wilkinson was assigned to Afghanistan, where his vision of life and experiences gained an entirely new meaning. After being in stationed in Afghanistan for more than a year, his four-year commitment to the service was coming to an end and he was looking forward to coming home; however, the Army had other plans. A “Stop Loss” was soon ordered stating that all service members were unable to be released indefinitely. This would be the beginning of a new chapter in Wilkinson’s life. On June 10, Wilkinson was acting as the Forward Operating Base mayor when the area was attacked by small bombs and mortar realms. Immediately taking cover in front of a humvee, he began to discharge his weapon toward the mountains, hoping to suppress the oncoming fire. Needing to change his position under heavy weaponry, Wilkinson decided to head for safety behind the riddled humvee. Within five seconds of his move a rocket hit a mere eight feet away from where he stood; resulting in more than 15 shrapnel wounds and 16 holes to his back, legs and arms. “Everything was moving in slow motion. I thought I was dying. All I could see was a big cloud of dust, and the humvee was collapsing from the holes in the tires,” he said. Shortly after these tragic events Wilkinson was transported to a facility just outside of Afghanistan. Unlike 21 of Wilkinson’s other friends who were killed in the line of duty, Wilkinson survived the brutal attack. “I live every day remembering those guys, and if I had to do it all over again I would. Everyone who can and is capable should serve their country,” said Wilkinson. Wilkinson received the Purple Heart which is awarded in the name of the president to any member of the Armed Forces who while serving has been wounded or killed. Photo: Specialist Danny Wilkinson and sister Leslie share smiles as he arrives at the airport after a tour in Afghanistan.

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