In the midst of such a tense election season, thought it would be nice to talk about something uplifting for a change.
Very few of our military men and women make it famous. In fact, I would bet you do not know the names of 10 military persons serving that are not your family or friends. And this is the way it has always been. Other than the few public ones who run to Canada and are then used by the left to prove some point, most of our brave men and women serve their country without a bit of fanfare. They make little money for laying their lives on the line for us back at home, yet most never complain. This is what they signed up for, so they just do their duty and move on to the next fight.
But every once in a while we get to hear about the unmatched bravery, courage, and commitment of one our soldiers other than the heart ripping tales of one laying his life down for his fellow soldiers. This is one such story.
When a bomb exploded under Dan Luckett’s Army Humvee in Iraq two years ago — blowing off one of his legs and part of his foot — the first thing he thought was: "That’s it. You’re done. No more Army for you."
But two years later, the 27-year-old Norcross, Georgia, native is back on duty — a double-amputee fighting on the front lines of America’s Afghan surge in one of the most dangerous parts of this volatile country.
Luckett was a young platoon leader on his first tour in Iraq when an explosively formed penetrator — a bomb that hurls an armor-piercing lump of molten copper — ripped through his vehicle on a Baghdad street on Mother’s Day 2008.
His Humvee cabin instantly filled with heavy gray smoke and the smell of burning diesel and molten metal. Luckett felt an excruciating pain and a "liquid" — his blood — pouring out of his legs. He looked down and saw a shocking sight: his own left foot sheared off above the ankle and his right boot a bloody mangle of flesh and dust.
Still conscious, he took deep breaths and made a deliberate effort to calm down.
A voice rang out over the radio — his squad leader checking in.
"1-6, is everybody all right?" the soldier asked, referring to Luckett’s call-sign.
"Negative," Luckett responded. "My feet are gone."
He was evacuated by helicopter to a Baghdad emergency room, flown to Germany, and six days after the blast, he was back in the U.S.
As his plane touched down at Andrew’s Air Force Base, he made a determined decision. He was going to rejoin the 101st Airborne Division any way he could.
Now many of our soldiers would at this point call an end to their service and do so with pride. But every blue moon a soldier says this will not be the end, I will make it back, and I will serve with my brothers until this is over. They refuse to take the expected path to retirement and instead fight back until they are once again back in the line of fire with the fellow warriors. It takes a strong person, a special person, a person filled with determination, courage, and a love for this country and their fellow soldiers that is greater than what your average person or soldier would have.
He rejoined his unit at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and told his battalion commander he wanted to return to duty "only if I could be an asset, not a liability," he recalled.
Months later, he passed a physical fitness test to attain the Expert Infantryman’s Badge. It required running 12 miles (19 kilometers) in under three hours with a 35-pound (16-kilogram) backpack. It was a crucial moment, Luckett said, "because I knew if I can get this badge, then there’s nothing they can say that I’m not capable of doing."
The Army agreed, and promoted him to captain.
In May, he deployed to Afghanistan.
Capt. Brant Auge, Luckett’s 30-year-old company commander, said Luckett was as capable as every soldier in his company, and treated no different.
"He’s a soldier who just happens to be missing a leg," said Auge, who is from Ocean Springs, Mississippi. "He tries to play it down as much as possible, he doesn’t like to bring a lot of attention to it."
On one of those early patrols, Luckett took to a knee and his pants leg rode up a little bit, revealing the prosthetic limb to a shocked group of Afghan soldiers nearby, Auge said. One gave him the nickname, the "One-legged Warrior of Ashoqeh."
When those who have fought with you and even against you give you a warriors name, it is an honor. When they gave this young man his name, "One-legged Warrior of Ashoqeh" it said all that needed to be said.
We must all remember, we must all support those who serve us and protect our rights.