Gautier Marine lucky to be alive - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gautier Marine lucky to be alive

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) -

By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Corporal Anthony McDaniel grew up in Gautier. A few years ago, he made the decision to join the Marine Corps. The summer of 2010, something happened to Anthony in Afghanistan that would change his life forever.

He loved being a Marine. In fact, he still does, even after the events of August 31, 2010.

McDaniel, while serving as the point man on a patrol, had stepped directly on an improvised explosive device [IED].

"When I stepped off that IED, that is when it blew up. From there, everything just flashed before my eyes," says McDaniel.

"Everybody was running over. There for a second, I tried to push myself up. Because I could not, I looked at my hand, and I saw my hand was broken. And it was about hanging off. I did not look at my legs, because I figured if my hand was gone, my legs were probably gone," McDaniel explains.

Anthony was right, he had lost both of his legs and one hand. At that point, bleeding profusely, his focus turned to trying to survive.

"I wanted to close my eyes so bad, but they were just telling me, 'No! Try to keep your eyes open.' I was like, all right, but probably for a good three or four seconds, I thought I was not going to survive," McDaniel recalled.

That strong will to live, comes in part from his little boy. Anthony Jr. was born the day after Anthony left for Afghanistan. As medics were working to save Anthony's life, his thoughts were on his little boy.

McDaniel says, "Because I had not seen my son yet, and that was really my main thing. Because I did not know if I would come back to see him." 

Corporal McDaniel spent the next several days in Germany, then was sent to Walter Reed in the nation's capitol. That's where he saw his family for the first time since the accident. They brought little Anthony Jr. with them on that first visit.

"That was like maybe one of the most proudest days, that I have ever had," says McDaniel while fighting back tears. "That was the only thing going though my mind, that I had not seen him; I had not seen him. As soon as he came in, they put him on my chest while I was laying down, and I just got real excited and started smiling."

Now, Corporal McDaniel is well on the road to recovery. He is undergoing therapy at Walter Reed, and learning to walk with his prosthetic legs.

The road back will not be an easy one, but somehow you get the sense the loss of his legs won't stop Anthony McDaniel.

In our next installment of Project Homefront on February 10th, we will  check on Anthony's progress at Walter Reed and also hear from a man with a very special relationship with Anthony. The man Anthony said he loves like a second father.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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