Injured soldier set for surgery Friday

Pfc. Daniel Tingle, injured 10 days ago by mortar round in Iraq, received good news on Thursday.

Doctors at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, are 75 percent sure they will be able to save his left foot.

His first reconstructive surgery is scheduled Friday.

"His ankle is in very good shape," said Tina Luce, Tingle's mother. "We are extremely hopeful."

She said doctors allow the 25 percent margin of losing his foot in case of an infection develops. So far, that hasn't happened.

"He's just coming right along," she said. "The swelling is way down and not on his foot. He's in pain, but that's to be expected."

She and Tingle's wife Megan are at the hospital with the wounded soldier.

Luce, a nurse, said surgeons planned to take bone from Tingle's hip and cadaver bone and fuse it with what's left. They'll also use a skin flap from his forearm and muscle and fascia tissue to give him range of motion.

In a telephone interview from his hospital bed, Tingle said Thursday he was optimistic.

"I've got my hopes high," he said. "I want to get better and I want to do what I signed up for. It took me four years to get into the Army and I really don't want this to stop me in any way. I am trying to pick myself up and continue on like a soldier would."

Tingle said even if he lost his foot, the injury would not slow him down.

He said he recalls every detail of his injury.

"I was awake for the whole thing. I remember being in the truck when the first round hit and everybody scattered. I remember me sitting in the truck for a few minutes looking for a bunker. I remember running and hearing the whistle of the mortar round and seeing and hearing the shrapnel. It wasn't a great experience," he said.

Tingle said he misses his unit.

"It tears me apart not to be there, Part of me wants to get back, but I can't be all heroic. None of us over there are being heroic. We're doing what we're told to do."

He'd prefer to stay in the service, but said he has to consider his family.

"I've got my wife and family to think about," Tingle said. "I am not basing all my decisions on what I want."

He's also interested in pursing a law enforcement career.

"My family is divided between law enforcement and medical. I would never make it as a doctor or a nurse, and I think being a police officer is the next best thing," he said.

For now, Tingle said he wants to concentrate on his recovery.

"Many soldiers have worse things than what was done to me," he said. "There are people here who have no legs or arms or are burned and are still going on. I am very lucky."

Luce said the surgery Friday is expected to take a couple of hours.

"The good thing is Daniel is so positive," she said. "He's got a hell of a determination. Looking at all the other people here, he feels so humbled."


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