by Sheila Gardner
sgardner@recordcourier.com

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September 3, 2013
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A helping hand for wounded warriors

It’s a busy household that Iraq war veteran and stay-at-home dad Daniel Tingle manages.

The Johnson Lane residence is home to Daniel and his wife Megan, both 27; their children Avery, 4 and Owen, 4 months; his sister Melanie, 25, her husband, Michael 26, and their children Jackson, 2 and Leah, 6 months.

“Family” figures in everything Tingle does.

“Right now, I am a stay-at-home dad, and trying to volunteer and give back to the community,” he said in a recent interview.

That includes whipping up root beer pancakes and helping out with Avery’s under-5 soccer team.

Tingle came back from Baghdad with a shattered foot, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“My greatest challenge is to live with everything the way it is,” he said. “I am just trying to get better at raising kids and dealing with being blown up as best I can.”

Daniel was critically wounded Jan. 6, 2007, in a mortar attack in Baghdad.

He had multiple surgeries on his left foot in an effort to return to battle.

After a 2-year wrangle with the U.S. Army to remain in the service, he retired with 100 percent disability in 2009.

In February, the Tingles moved back to Johnson Lane from Colorado to be closer to family which includes his grandparents Bill and Onell Lepore who this year celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary.

He never sought to set himself apart from or above any other war casualties.

“The real heroes are those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and can’t come home, or do this,” he said, spreading his arms to include his wife, children and their home.

“They can’t raise two beautiful children and have this great relationship,” he said.

Megan works full time for the state and is very grateful for the job.

Daniel has volunteered at Jacks Valley Elementary School, talking with children about bullying. He is a 2004 graduate of Douglas High School.

Daniel also wants to help coach Avery’s under-5 soccer team.

The twist of fate does not escape Daniel and Megan.

“He wants to work. I want to stay home,” Megan Tingle said.

As if on cue, Avery opens the patio door, and shouts, “I love you, Mom and Dad.”

“We’re raising a village,” Megan laughed.

Tingle is close to his 87-year-old grandfather, Bill Lepore.

“He’s a big part of my life,” Daniel said.

When he came home from Iraq in 2007 to a hero’s welcome, it was his grandfather to whom he confided his fears and frustration.

“He’s one of the few people Daniel would listen to,” Megan said.

Both Tingle’s parents were in the service.

“I am proud to say every branch of the service has a member of my family in it,” he said.

Tingle is deeply affected by friends he lost to combat.

“That’s the hardest part — losing people you knew and cared about. I still carry their pictures around. I had some of their pictures hanging on the wall for the longest time,” he said.

Since he’s become a father, Tingle said the pain is sharper from the loss of soldiers with children.

“When I went over there, I believed in my heart that it would not be so difficult for Megan if I died. But those who actually had kids,” he said, his voice drifting off. “I stare at those beautiful children all day long and see their mother and father.”

The Tingles recently celebrated their seventh anniversary.

They met on June 28, 2006, and married two months later.

Their courtship included a four-week interruption.

“We’re so opposite, it works,” Megan said.

“With my TBI (traumatic brain injury), my memory is not all that fantastic,” Daniel said. “My wife pretty much takes care of me.”

Despite the injury, Tingle lobbied for two years to stay in the military.

“I never wanted to leave the military. It was my life. I had to get myself to a place where I was at peace with it. My father was with me for my retirement ceremony. I was two steps out the door and I started bawling. I didn’t want to leave,” he said.

On Saturday, Tingle and his family will participate in the Wounded Warriors benefit golf tournament at Silver Oak Golf Course in Carson City, organized by his mother, Tina Luce, in appreciation for all the organization has done to help wounded soldiers like her son and their families.

Luce said she chose the Wounded Warrior project because of how much the organization helped Daniel and his family.

“It doesn’t just stop with the wounded party. It’s endless what they can do,” she said. “They have provided so much assistance for families with everything from getting therapy to building ramps, helping with prosthetics. They just kind of bring families back together once something so traumatic occurs.

“I feel like I am one of the lucky ones. I got my kid back. I just want to help any way that I can. I feel God has blessed my family and I want to help others,” she said.

Megan Tingle also singled out the Fisher House which provides accommodations for families visiting wounded loved ones.

“They provided everything from a place to stay, even clothes for the kids if you needed them,” Megan said.

The tournament includes a presentation of colors about 8:15 a.m. All the slots are taken, but the golf course is taking names for a waiting list. Silver Oak donated the facilities for the day.


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The Record Courier Updated Sep 4, 2013 04:15PM Published Sep 3, 2013 12:32PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.