A Marine Corporal's Sacrifice - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

A Marine Corporal's Sacrifice

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AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) -- After 9/11, hundreds of thousands of Americans answered the call to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq in a war against terrorism. Many gave the ultimate sacrifice, and for others, life will never be the same.

Back in 2008, we introduced you to Marine Corporal Dan Stewart of Austin. He was severely wounded in '05 while fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I signed up to take a different path in life, and this is the path."

A journey beginning at age 19, when he was a senior at Hayfield High School, would change the course of his life forever.

"Good friend brought a senior recruiter to high school. I was bored, so I talked to his recruiter. I liked what he had to say, so that day I started signing the papers," explained Dan.

Three tours of duty later, on August 4th, 2005, Marine Corporal Dan Stewart became a wounded vet.

"I remember in my coma having a dream of hitting an IED on the right side of the vehicle, that was the extent of the dream."

Vivid images and stories from comrades are all Dan has to go on about what happened that summer day in Falujah.

"Heard two different stories of what actually happened..."

Both encompassing the Marine motto, Semper Fi.

"My good friend Black said I gave up my seat behind the armor to make room for the female Iraqi searchers. I stood up in the back moving the 240 Gulf Machine Gun....We were driving down IED alley in Falujah and I hit a 355 Artillery rounds on the right side of the road in a trash can. I was hit in the right side of the kevlar by sharp metal..."

Only half of Dan's skull would still be intact.

"Broke my kevlar in half.. pushed the fragments into my skull and then pushed in the whole right side of my skull," explained Dan.

With more surgeries than Dan recalls, rehabilitative therapy to re-learn how to eat and walk, numerous seizures and a stroke that would limit movement on his left side... you'd envision a fragile and bitter man, but Dan's not like that at all.

"I wouldn't be near as far as I am today, if I just laid back and waited for stuff to be given to me," stated Dan.

At first he will admit he was filled with deep regret at signing his name to that piece of paper.. but with time, came acceptance.

"I know I can't change it, so why whine about it or get all depressed when I can keep doing what I'm doing. I've got a job, I'm a working member of the community."

Every day Dan volunteers his time at St. Edward's Catholic Church, enriching his community and his faith.

"If I didn't have faith, I'd be dead. Dead in Iraq right now."

Dan says he is often referred to as "inspirational."

While serving his country may have changed his life, it hasn't diminished his pride in America.

"Still have a very strong Esprit De Corps. I love being a Marine. I love it every single day," stated Dan.

Since Dan's accident he has started to write an autobiography, ranging from his earliest years to life after the Marines.

 

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