My name is SGT Joshua Michael, U.S. Army (Ret.) I've been married to Daylyn, my gorgeous wife, for 15 years. I have a son, Ryan (14) who also love to hunt with me and my daughter, Maci (7).
I joined the Army shortly after 9/11. I was working as a paramedic in Amarillo, Texas. I was coming off shift when I heard the news of the attacks. I knew what I had to do. I come from a long line of military and public servants; this was my calling. I knew we were going to war. I enlisted as an Infantryman, a decision I do not regret. In February 2002, I left for Fort Benning, Ga.
I served both my tours in Iraq with the Mighty 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault!). I was part of the spearhead when we invaded Iraq in 2003. Our story really begins during the second tour to Iraq or shortly before. We had been trying for years to have another baby but deployments, field problems and I believe God himself, kept us from adding to the family. Finally, in April 2005, we had a beautiful baby girl. She was amazing. I was on orders to redeploy in September back to Iraq, so I spent all the time I could with Daylyn, Ryan and Maci. When I deployed for my second tour, Maci was nearly 5 months old and Ryan was 7. Daylyn was seasoned by this time and knew the drill. She would hold the fort down while I went and did my thing in Iraq.
In December, I called home to find a desperate Daylyn. Maci had to have surgery on her eyes. She had not developed tear ducts normally and they had to correct them. This was to be the first of the firestorm of obstacles and tragedies to come. In January 2006, Daylyn again had bad news. She had cancer. It was in her thyroid and had wrapped around her trachea and vocal cords. Maci was not even a year old and she was there alone. Then during her radiation, I was injured for the first time. I has hit by an IED and blown backward in my truck. I was knocked unconscious and suffered my first Traumatic Brain Injury. I wasn't allowed to come home for her surgery or my injuries. We were too short manned and I had to just recover in theatre under the supervision of a neurologist. Daylyn recovered also with some minor complications.
My second injury occurred in April 2006. I was again hit with an IED but this one was different. It was not just a bomb but a penetration device. It was designed to pierce the armor and kill inside, but luckily it wasn't big enough. It made it through the armor of the truck but only broke three ribs and ruptured my spleen. I survived. In September 2006, shortly before I was set to return home, I was injured a third time. This was again a Traumatic Brain Injury. I was sent to Fort Sam Houston for care. Meanwhile, Daylyn had undergone her own set of heartbreak and challenges. She had taken care of our kids; she kept our household afloat; she supported me in Iraq with care packages and needs lists sent weekly; she had fought and won her own battle with cancer. She is amazing to say the least.
We had been married for four years when I decided to join the Army and this September we will celebrate our 15th. We have struggled together, laughed together, cried together, but most importantly STAYED together.
I enjoyed almost 10 years in the Army and would have done 25 if I could. I was medically retired for the brain injuries I sustained and was awarded two Purple Hearts and 3 ARCOMS. I wouldn't change anything that happened. I am a better man, husband and father because of my service. I thank the Army for allowing me to serve.