“True Grit”

“True Grit”

By MSG (Ret.) “Mad Max” Mullen

daniel_38-copyMarch 2008, Fort Wolters, Texas “Operation night Scorpion III” was in full swing, I was leading Golf Company in a pitched seesaw battle against Hotel Company lead by a formable commander COL. Paul Longgear, a highly decorated Special Forces officer of the “Battle of Long Vei” fame Republic of Vietnam. The fighting was tough on both sides and though we would eventually lose to Hotel Company tactically we were taking the fight to them and had them on the run most of the game. 

In real world combat there are always a few men who you least expect who would rise to the occasion and distinguished themselves in the heat of battle; they are the one’s who go above and beyond by aggressively taking the fight to the enemy. They give 110% and then some and refuse to give place to the enemy. And then again you have your slackers who wimp out when the going gets tough. The ones you want to break your foot off in their rear for being cowards in the face of the enemy.

Hotel Company was attacking up a road intersection; we had the enemy on the run most of the morning and doing our final push doing our movement to contact. I gave the order to start double timing because I wanted to encircle the enemy and cut off their escape. I then notice one young man out of the corner of my eye who was running with a limp and was keeping up. I asked him was he hurt and he said “No Master Sergeant” I said, then why are you limping? If you’re hurt just take it easy and walk”. He stopped in his tracks and looked me in the eye and said with a slight grin…”Master Sergeant, I have a prosthetic leg” and then he kept on double timing with out missing a beat. I had a feeling he didn’t know what the word meant anyway. After the last scenario was over, I personally looked for this young man to congratulate him for doing an outstanding job in the field. I asked around and came to find out his name was Robert Daniel Edward, call sign “Zero Hawk” and this is his story.

daniel_43-copyDaniel was born with a birth defect with most of the bones missing from his left leg and it was decided at the age of one to go through with an amputation where his lower leg was amputated up to the knee socket. Now keep in mind this is not an easy decision for parents to make but was a necessary one in order for him to lead a better quality life.

Growing up, Daniels parents were determined that he would lead as normal life as possible. All through grade school and middle school he never knew what the word quit meant. He showed his true grit by playing nose tackle and middle line backer in grade school and middle school. But as he entered high school he started being challenged more by his peers and would hear comments like Hey are you able to keep up? Can you hang? And, if you need a break just let us know. Hearing these words only made Daniel more determined to beat the odds and didn’t need any ones pity. In high school he went on to excel in sports by becoming a four year varsity letterman playing 2nd base in baseball. He would eventually take up martial arts and went on to study Tenshin-Ryu Kenjutsu, and Yamate-Ryu Aikijutsu karate, snowboarding, and wake boarding.

Daniel went on to join the JROTC at Mesquite High school, in Mesquite, Texas. While in the JROTC program he distinguish himself as a expert rifle man where he became the captain of the rifle team and would go on to be ranked 4th in the state of Texas. While in his senior year in high school, he caught the attention of West Point Military Academy and was offered a full ride scholarship for his expert marksmanship skills. When West Point found out he had a prosthetic leg they had to withdraw the offer because after graduation from the point he would have been unable to fulfill his military obligation that is required upon graduation; though disappointed Daniel refused to let this deter him from being the best that he could be in life. While in high school Daniel eventually went on to attain the rank of full colonel in JROTC where he became the Brigade Commander over five county high schools. Without a doubt Robert Daniel Edward epitomize the can do, never say never, mind set.

I wish I had Daniel in my platoon when I was a Platoon Sergeant in 3rd battalion 75th Ranger Regiment. He would have been right at home amongst the rest of the Rangers. Daniel is a true inspiration who refused to let his handicap keep him down. In the Rangers creed one of the stanzas is “Surrender is not a Ranger word…” my hat is off to this young man who never surrendered to the challenges in life.

 

daniel_18-copyName: Robert Daniel Edward

Age: 22 years old

Home town: Mesquite, Texas

Years playing mil-sim: Four years

Weapon: M14-EBR, w/ACOG, and Iron sight mounted.

Occupation: Computer technician.

Motivation: Need for adventure, hidden pride, how hard he can push himself. There is nothing he can’t accomplish.

Biggest advice for others who have prosthetics: Just gut it out and make it happen.

 

Biggest Inspirations in life: His parents, SGM Richard Fisher his rifle team coach who coached, inspired, and mentored him in the ROTC rifle program.  

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