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.
Hold My Hand-A Hometown Hero Tribute Event
The “Hold My Hand-A Hometown Hero Tribute Event,” will be held in Guthrie, Oklahoma, at the Lazy E Arena on August 6, 2011. During our day-long event we will honor several wounded warriors/soldiers, including Dunagan, from across the state—and even reaching across the nation. A live and silent auction will be held, an awards ceremony; and many vendors will be on site, as well as numerous veteran organizations. Entertainment includes Dave Reed, Tony Memmel, Coles Bluegrass, Edgar Cruz, and Steve Rizzo, along with many others.
Among the veteran organization supporters are: Veterans School Flag Program, Oklahomans Helping Oklahoma-Wounded Warrior Family Support, Soldiers Angels, Support Our Troops, Purple Heart Society, USO, The Unknown Soldiers, Partnership for America’s Heroes, Pros for Vets, Folds of Honor, Walking a Mile in their Boots, Patriot Guard Riders, American Legion Lebron #58, National League of POW/MIA Families/Oklahoma Chapter, Standing for the Fallen, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Blue Star, and Gold Star Moms.
Follow Dunagan on the world-wide web
You can visit Dunagan’s website: www.rustyholdmyhand.com and Tom Sileo’s nationally syndicated column about Dunagan at: http://www.creators.com/opinion/the-unknown-soldiers/holding-his-hand-11-03-17.html. Additionally, follow on Facebook: Hold My Hand.
Auction to help Dunagan’s recovery
During the event, each veteran organization will be raising funds for their individual wounded warrior/soldier or group. The money raised from the auction will assist Dunagan in his recovery by supplementing the cost of Dunagan’s care, treatment, medical and extraordinary expenses as they become necessary, in efforts of improving the quality of Dunagan’s life now, and into the future, including modifying housing needs, transportation, and circumstantial needs.
So far, Dunagan has had thirty-four surgeries and is thriving and grateful to be alive! And though many have referred to him as “hero,” he is very humble, and admits, he was “just doing his job.” In many conversations with Porter, she is yet to hear him complain.
Supporters are anticipating 7000 plus in attendance at the event on August 6th. Join in the American Spirit! Come and Hold My Hand—-A Hometown Hero Tribute Event.