In the wee morning hours of September 22, 2010, as the sun was making its ascent, a group of soldiers set out to do a routine patrol in Afghanistan. One soldier led the group, for he had been trained to secure areas of safety for his men, in this land unfamiliar to him. A soldier will tell you, he cannot afford to have a bad day, make a mistake, or entertain the smallest thought of fear, because for weeks, months and years, he has been trained to do these missions while serving the country.
Suddenly, in the cool of this morning, a bomb explodes. A soldier is thrown into a creek laden with raw sewage. He tries to stand up, but his efforts are in vain. He questions this. As he looks down, he makes a gruesome discovery. Just a few feet away from him on the embankment, is one of his legs.
The above is a true account of Sgt. Rusty Dunagan, who, while performing a patrol in Afghanistan on September 22, 2010, encountered an IED (improvised explosive device), losing both legs and his left arm; becoming one of 23 surviving Triple Amputees from this recent war.
Dunagan, who is from Guthrie and currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, open wounds and missing limbs became a breeding ground of infection, and coupled with a copious amount of blood loss, the doctors gave the family little hope.
Four thousand miles separated Dunagan from his family, and every phone call was wrought with more and more bad news. So having the freedom to pray to God, Susan Porter, his aunt, requested people pray for her nephew.
Porter created a Facebook page titled, “Hold My Hand,” so people could leave words of encouragement and prayers for Dunagan and his family. Currently, there are more than 20,000 supporters on this site. Little did they know how vital those words of encouragement would be for the whole family.
One month after the incident, family attended the presentation of a purple heart awarded to Dunagan. Deplete of fanfare or a cheering crowd, or the tears of victory, a heart-shaped gold medal, hanging from a wide purple ribbon, was placed on Rusty’s chest in silence. Pride and sadness co-mingled. A soldier does not seek to be awarded this gold medal, as say, an Olympian. The receipt of a purple heart demands the greatest of sacrifice.