On May 21st, 2010, Dan, a specialist with the U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was pulling overnight guard duty in a remote outpost in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. Toward the very end of his eight-hour shift, as the morning light was just emerging over the mountains, a huge truck bomb detonated at the outpost’s main entrance. Dan was knocked off his feet and sustained significant injuries to his face. But he, along with his buddy Nick Robinson, who was manning the front entrance with him, held off the assault, which included RPGs and a swarm of guerillas just meters from their position. Dan and Nick held the insurgents at bay until the rest of their unit woke up and rallied to defend the outpost. Both Dan and Nick received Silver Stars for their actions that day.
Dan lives in Orange County, California, and has considerable musical talent, having mastered several instruments at a young age. He is also a big fan of the Los Angeles Angels. The Army presented his medal at an Angels game in April 2011 – here is the link to the YouTube video of the presentation. Dan told me that the ceremony was pretty special. As the speaker read what he had done, the fans cheered so loud that no one could hear the second half of the speech. “It felt good,” he said. “It was pretty humbling.”