Michael's Dispatches

From Canada: A Thank You to U.S. Service Members

44 Comments

U.S. Air Force Nurse, Lucy Lehker, comforts an 'unknown' Canadian soldier after he was badly wounded in Afghanistan.

Dear Michael Yon,

Today we were sent your story of February 14, 2010. The “unknown” Canadian is our son Danny.  He is a 23-year-old soldier from Vancouver, Canada.

Your photographs were extraordinary and have impacted so many people here in Canada. There has been an outpouring of affection for the Americans who helped Danny in his moment of need.  For that, we thank you for recording these acts of kindness into history.

Danny's injuries were the result of an explosion on February 12, 2010. Four Canadian soldiers were injured and tragically one Canadian soldier was killed.  Within 20 minutes of the explosion, Danny was airlifted by helicopter to Kandahar.  Upon arrival he received emergency surgery that saved his life and prepared him for the flight to Bagram that you were on.

After landing in Bagram, Danny was again airlifted by a US transport aircraft to the US Army run Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.  There he underwent additional surgery that closed up his wounds.  Once stabilized, the Canadian government dispatched a Challenger jet to bring him home. This afternoon in Vancouver, the shrapnel that did all the damage to him was finally removed.  Danny is now recovering in hospital.

This was Danny's second tour of duty in Afghanistan and his platoon on this tour has had heavy causalities and injuries.  Physically, Danny will overcome his injuries. He also has the support of his family, his friends and his community to deal with the emotional side of this war.  Our hearts go out to those families who have had the loss of a soldier or who have had to deal with greater injuries.

Danny and his whole family are very grateful, and are actually overwhelmed, by the support he received while in US care. The Canadian military have also been wonderful.  It is our intention to personally thank everyone who worked so hard to save Danny's life. We have already made contact with Major Deborah "Lucy" Lehker to thank her.

Sincerely,

Jim & Holly

Full Story:

Valentine's Day Weekend, Afghanistan

Whispers

 

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Wes · 8 years ago
    nuff said...
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Arlene in CA · 8 years ago
    Michael,
    The "Thank You Letter" from Danny's parents brought tears to my eyes, just as the original story did. God Bless Danny and his family. God Bless all of our troops.
    Stay safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jeff Smith · 8 years ago
    Wow, you really outdid yourself with this one. What a wonderful human interest story. We do take care of each other in combat (UK forces helped me with my minor injuries in Iraq), but it's great to get the names dates times and places. I wish Danny's family -- and him most of all -- the best.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewat · 8 years ago
    Whatever squabbles may occur, when push comes to shove, Canada is family. Well done.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Norm Hughes I · 8 years ago
    Our son met Michael at FOB Cobra when there with the 278th out of Tennessee. Michael accompanied their convoy to Kandahar and joined their banquet provided by the Kurds in the countryside. His reports from that visit (although not showing a picture of our son) helped us immensely to understand the situation at the time. They were also visited by Charly Daniels and band, which lifted their spirits. Our son has gone through several surgeries related to combat and ambient conditions in that hot sandy country, and several of his mates continue to deal with ptds. I again thank you Michael. The reports are less frequent now (we are not on facebook or twitter) but are much looked forward to and appreciated. Our prayers continue for you, our soldiers, our command, and now for Danny and family.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David · 8 years ago
    What more can be said? What a letter. Glad to hear Danny and his family are doing alright. Thx Michael, and thanks to Jim and Holly for raising a son like Danny. Our prayers are with you during the time.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott from TX · 8 years ago
    Whether you are north or south of that imaginary line; we are all Americans... Great to hear that the unknown is now known and is recovering well. in a similar theme, re: the olympics, i pull for canada as much as i do the us, because in the end, we are the same people, americans and i hope they feel the same.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Wendye in WA · 8 years ago
    I've followed this story with a lump in my throat and knew as a parent I would be so very grateful for the loving care administered by Major "Heartlight" Lehker and whole crew if my son had been the wounded individual. I originally sent the February 14 post by Mr. Yon out to others with the lyrics to "Heartlight" by Neil Diamond attached. They seemed so fitting; they are posted below. It seems appropriate that our attention is focused to Vancouver, BC and not just because of the Olympics held there at this time. Please continue to support Mr. Yon's valuable coverage as I do.

    Come back again
    I want you to stay next time
    'Cause sometimes the world ain't kind
    When people get lost like you and me
    I just made a friend
    A friend is someone you need
    But now that he had to go away
    I still feel the words that he might say

    Turn on your heartlight
    Let it shine whereever you go
    Let it make a happy glow
    For all the world to see

    Turn on your heartlight
    In the middle of a young boy's dream
    Don't wake me up too soon
    Gonna take a ride across the moon
    You and me

    He's lookin' for home
    'Cause everyone needs a place
    And home's the most excellent place of all
    And I'll be right here if you should call me

    Turn on your heartlight
    Let it shine whereever you go
    Let it make a happy glow
    For all the world to see

    Turn on your heartlight
    In the middle of a young boy's dream
    Don't wake me up too soon
    Gonna take a ride across the moon
    You and me

    Turn on your heartlight now
    Turn on your heartlight now
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joe Thomas · 8 years ago
    Great letter and a great soldier. My thanks to all the Canadian soldiers and their families. We are lucky to have friends like you.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tear in my eye · 8 years ago
    Can you provide a surface mail address for that USAF Squadron . . . a lot of people want to say thnx
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dori · 8 years ago
    While I don't have children, this story nonetheless brought a lump to my throat and misty eyes. This is what we're supposed to do - Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You. It won't happen on this earth as a whole, but stories of human caring still do happen here and there demonstrating the love and compassion we can have for each other. Thanks Michael for being there and recording the neat and good side of history, too.

    Good to hear that Danny is doing well.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Timothy Paul Roesch · 8 years ago
    Somehow, someway, this story needs to be pushed out to those for whom this war is merely a political football to be tossed around for political gain. This story should go hand and hand with that picture of the soldier holding that girl with head injuries.

    The fight against Jihadism needs to have a face put on it and this is one.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mark S · 8 years ago
    Michael,

    What a lovely letter from Danny's Mom & Dad. But the thanks should really go in the other direction. Americans should thank Danny for his courage and willingness to serve and to his Mom & Dad for their love and support of Danny. No American or Canadian likes war, but sometimes our hand is forced and we must respond. Canada has proven a valued ally many times. As a Seattle suburbanite, my wife and I have traveled frequently to Vancouver and other parts of Canada, and have always met with warmth and good will from our Canadian neighbors. So to this American, this is just further compelling evidence that our good neighbor to the North abundantly harbors such quality people, and shares in our love of freedom.

    So, Thank you Danny. Thank you Jim & Holly.
    May our two countries always share such warm camaraderie and fundamental values.

    Mark S
    Bellevue, Wa
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kanani · 8 years ago
    What a wonderful family. My prayers are with Danny, his family and his community as they help him on the road to heal. The medical teams from many nations do an exemplary job. They are dedicated to easing pain and suffering, and each day show dedication and compassion. They have no divisions when it comes to age, country of origin, or even politics. They are true servants of God, there to help the wounded, and assist those who are dying or have passed, go onto the other side with dignity and care. They continue to do so even though they often come under fire. The work through fear to bring compassion to others. They are heroes in my mind, but to them, they are simply doing their job. I write about this over on my blog, The Kitchen Dispatch. My husband is part of medical team.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kenny Komodo · 8 years ago
    Michael Yon is an award winning journalist and photographer who has not yet been fully recognized by his peers. But he will be I have no doubt. As for the story and picture, all I can say is WOW. It just highlights the fact that we all in this together, all branches of the U.S. military as well as our Canadian friends and neighbors.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike Gallagher · 8 years ago
    Thank you Danny
    Thank you Michael

    O Canada!
    Our home and native land!
    True patriot love in all thy sons command.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jean · 8 years ago
    I'am so thankfull to Michael and others who continue to keep us updated.I'm thankfull to GOD for bringing Danny to safety and my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.May GOD TOUCH AND HEAL and PROTECT ALWAYS. Thank you for your service and for being an honorable man and a great neighbor to the US.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    jim · 8 years ago
    THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE DAN! THANK YOU HOLLY and JIM FOR RAISING A SON WILLING TO SERVE HIS COUNTRY! THANK YOU CANADA AND ALL THE CANADIAN MILITARY FOR FIGHTING TERRORISM! ENJOY THAT FIRST MOLSON WHEN YOUR WELL ENOUGH DAN, AND MY FAMILY AND I WILL BE PRAYING THAT YOU HAVE A COMPLETE RECOVERY FROM YOUR COMBAT WOUNDS! JIM
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Burke · 8 years ago
    Americans take care of the people who support and fight with us. It has been that way in every war, action, and engagement.
    We even take care of our adversaries and rebuild their countries.
    Wonder why we are so unappreciated?
    Great job Michael and all of our troops, American & Canadian.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Stuart · 8 years ago
    Having known Dan for many years, and appreciating all he has done for the people of Afganistan, I would like to thank the American and Canadian military for bringing him home. It is comforting to know that our two nations go the extra mile to ensure our injured heroes recieve the best care possible under difficult conditions.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    GUNNER WAGNER · 8 years ago
    Mikey me lad; You have done it again! And again: ERNIE PLYE is looking down with pride!
    And to canada: thanks again for your help. allons! Gunner
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter F., Surrey, B · 8 years ago
    Knowing Danny and his family quite well, news of his very serious injuries hit us hard. I served in the Canadian Forces Reserve for many years with the same Regiment that Danny belongs to. The close co-operation and comradeship between the Canadian and American Forces runs very deep on so many levels, more than most people realize. Knowing that he was in the best possible care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany gave us the hope that he would come home safe, as he did this past weekend.

    THANK YOU AMERICA for saving our Danny.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    RWHannaway · 8 years ago
    Michael,

    Thank you again for bringing us to the front and relaying the information and the war as you see it. It is such wonderful news to hear this young soldier is going to pull through. As for all of the personnel responsible for extending this mans life from the pilots flying the medevacs to the incredibly talented medics, nurses and doctors who obviously worked tirelessly to ensure he would see his family again, BRAVO. It never ceases to amaze me this is often "a day in the life" of our American and Allied troopers. Thank you all for your amazing work and unending efforts. God Speed to Danny and his family and His peace and love to those families who have lost a family member to this war.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Annie Smith · 8 years ago
    My heart and prayers go out to Danny and his family!

    Thanks for sharing this story....There is a reason why we share the longest friendly border in the world with our northern friends!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chris R · 8 years ago
    Again Mike Yon brings the true face of the Afghan war into our lives with stunning effect. His blog should be broadcast on National / Worldwide TV for sure. Danny and family, we are thinking of you, deepest thanks for your and your fellow Soldiers sacrifice. Have a speedy recovery brother in arms. Much respect. A Brit.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jerry P · 8 years ago
    Having served in a joint US/Canada military effort (NORAD) in my early days I became very aware of the strength of the relationship that exists between our two strong nations and our men at arms. In spite of efforts of the liberal left to marginalize this unique relationship, this incident - where a young Canadian soldier is injured and receives support and treatment from the Americans as if he were one of their own - is a clear indication that this special relationship endures.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bruce · 8 years ago
    As usual, the PEOPLE get it, no matter what stupid politicians do or say to try and divide us. Those who lay it on the line day in and day out know who they can count on, and it's damned sure not a President or Prime Minister. The people of the US thank our northern neighbors/cousins, as well as our UK cousins and other coalition members for their support. We weep at your losses as we do at ours.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rick Clarke · 8 years ago
    Godspeed Danny boy !!! Lucy; Judging by the photo, I think your an Angel ! Thank You !
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ted Bryson · 8 years ago
    Thank God for his recovery!
    And, God Bless the Canadians, the Brits, the Poles, the Danes and the Aussies!!!
    Hooo-Ahhhh!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Shirley · 8 years ago
    God bless all our Canadian and American troops, brothers and sisters in arms. Come home safely. Thank you for fighting for Freedom.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Rocky · 8 years ago
    I think that letter was just one more thank you to you Michael for your reporting style. Not many reporters can report like you from the human side. When I read your reports, it's almost like I know everyone in the article by the end. Thank you for keeping it real and thanks to everyone that wears the uniform fighting for freedom.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Pat, Surrey, B.C. · 8 years ago
    With the media and the world focusing on the 2010 Olympics we have become confused as to who are the real heroes. Men and women who risk their lives fighting for peace and freedom are the ones who belong on the podium. Words cannot express the gratitude and respect I have for the courageous undertaking our Canadian and Allied Forces perform around the world; you are the true heroes. To all the men and women serving in Afghanistan, and to all those who helped bring Danny home safely, thank you! A gold medal could never show enough appreciation for what you all have done!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Chris Madden · 8 years ago
    God speed to Danny. Thank you Lucy. God bless all our troops fighting for freedom.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jerry · 8 years ago
    Jim, Holly, Danny, and Micheal, God Bless, and thanks.
    When I was in the USAF TDY to Winnepeg, I was treated very well, true brothers at arms.
    Thanks again,
    Jerry
  • This commment is unpublished.
    S Coady · 8 years ago
    Michael,

    I am a retired WO with the Canadian military and am now a serving Police Officer in Vancouver, BC. In my time over seas I met many US soldiers who I am proud to call 'comrades in arms'. I have had both family and friends serve in many conflicts around the world for a variety of reasons but have been fortunate enough not to loose anyone close. I have known Jim for 15 years or so and work with him directly for the Olympics. I observed what Jim had to endure and heard bits and pieces of this tragedy as the days progressed. I read your story which showed that not all heroes 'fight' for the peace and freedoms that we enjoy but some heroes 'whisper' encouragement and offer comfort to those hurt from the battle. Thank you very much for telling this side of the story and thank you to Lucy and the other medical staff that helped Danny (and all our other solders injured during the war on terrorism) come home to thier famiilies. Thank you to Danny for being there, you are a true hero, and to Jim and Holly for you too are heroes.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    F.1 · 8 years ago
    Thank you to the team that took care of Danny. Such an outstanding and moving story, and we appreciate what the American team did for our Danny. To those still overseas, thank you for "standing on guard" while the rest of Canada enjoyed the Olympic Games in Vancouver. God Bless.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gismo Fly · 8 years ago
    Thanks for saving the Canuk. As a Brit I'll stand witness before God for American generosity and professionalism.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    DD · 8 years ago
    ..saving a life is equivalent to saving a world. Many thanks to the medical team for saving Danny's life. It reminds us that we fight, in part, for the life-affirming values that are shared between our two countries.

    DD
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JHG176 · 8 years ago
    The warm and gracious letter from Danny's parents reminded me of the news reports of the people of the small Canadian twon who were so wonderful to Americans whose plane was grounded there in the days after 9/11. After than demonstration of compassion and generosity by the good people of Canada, we really do hold you Canadians closer in our hearts. God Bless Danny's wonderful parents, God Bless brave Danny, and God Bless Canada!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JetMech · 8 years ago
    I have always enjoyed Mike Yon's stories and photos and know they ring of the truth from one who has been there and done that. For all those who have and will wear the uniform and do the job, thank you and that means all our allies in the war on terror. I know there are never enough words to say thanks but here it goes. Thanks Mike for this and all your stories, as the MSG said you truly are the Ernie Pyle of this age. Thanks Lucy for taking such good care of that Canadian soldier, and all of the others you have and will care for. Thanks to all the member of our military (US) as well as to all of our allies. Thanks to Canada for being a gracious host in the winter olympics.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    SALMA · 8 years ago
    i want to thank Mr.Yon for letting us know about this.i am also very happy about the young Danny's safety and health.
    A big thank you to the the ones who took care of him and brought him back to where he belongs and to the arms of his family.
    May no soldier walk alone.....
    SALMA
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Blanche · 8 years ago
    The letter from Danny's was so tender and overwhelming, it brought tears to my eyes. I am happy to know that he is safe and will continue to keep him and his family in my thoughts. It would be great to hear of the progress he has made. I hope he truely knows the hero that he is. Thank you Mr. Yon for the amazing coverage.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Garry L. Sheets · 8 years ago
    Jim and Holly, .. I was on the flight from Kandahar to Bagram with your son Danny, I was the Charge Medical Technician of the Aeromedical Evacuation Crew on that flight. We work with the Critical Care Air Transportation Team (CCATT), who cared for your son. I just want you both to know we should be the thankful ones. My team and I, as well as those who do my job are highly praised for the work we do, but your son and the men and woman who sacrifice their lives are the true heroes. I am very honored to have the ability and opportunity to care for Danny and those like him. February 14, just happens to be my birthday, and that particular day I will never forget. It is never a good thing when I have to do my Job, but if it has to be, there is no other way I would rather spend my date of birth. Thank you Danny, thank you for all your sacrifices, thank you for your heroism, thank you for your dedication. I hope you are doing well, and that God brings the best life has to offer. I would love to talk with you and your parents to thank you with my voice. You can reach me at garry.l.sheets@hotmail.com and if your write me an email I will disclose my cell number.
    Thanks Again for ALL you do!!!!!!!!!!

    Garry L. Sheets
    MSgt USAF
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike Starr · 7 years ago
    All I can say is one thing....Thank You All For Serving.....we all have bad days...but some times we have to think hey I dont have it so bad...I admire you all for everything you do...I worked on a volunteer ambulance crew for about 22 years and seen alot in those years but I know I can never come close to the things you have all witnessed and done.Again thank you all and be safe....Keep them 130s flying....

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