Chamber honors soldier | RecordCourier.com

Chamber honors soldier

by Sheila Gardner

Tina Luce choked back tears as she accepted the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Authority unsung hero award for her son, Pfc. Daniel Tingle, 22, a 2004 graduate of Douglas High School.

“He really wanted to be here,” Luce said at the awards dinner Friday. “He told me to say two things: God bless America and God bless the troops.”

Tingle suffered severe damage to his left foot during a mortar attack in Iraq on Jan. 5. To repair it, doctors took part of his hip bone and fused it to the bone in his foot. Skin from the side of his foot and from his calf helped replace lost tissue.

He is stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado to continue therapy and await a decision from the U.S. Army on his status. If he is given a medical discharge, Tingle said in a telephone interview last week he wants to come home.

His first choice would be to return to his unit in Iraq.

“I am trying to deal with it,” Tingle said. “I’ve been talking to my mom about getting a job in Nevada. The only problem is my foot. I wanted to be a cop. I know my foot will not always be 100 percent but that has never stopped me from anything. And it won’t stop me know. I have too much heart.”

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Tingle said his interest in law enforcement stems from his own behavior as a juvenile.

“I was a little hoodlum,” he said. “I gained the most respect after dealing with every officer, including my probation officer. He believed in me and got me straightened out.”

Tingle said he wants to come back to Carson Valley with “dignity and pride.”

“I don’t ask for pity and sympathy,” he said. “I just want to get a job.”

The guests at the chamber dinner gave Luce and her father Bill Lepore a standing ovation.

Tingle had asked that his grandfather, a World War II veteran, accept the award on his behalf.

“He and I are very close,” Lepore said. “We talk a lot and when he comes to visit, he says, ‘I want to go back (to Iraq).’ I tell him he’s done his part, but he says, ‘I’m not a hero. The heroes are the ones who can’t come back.'”

Tingle said he was eager to see his grandparents, mother and stepfather and his brothers David and Jason and sister Melanie.

His wife Megan, 21, is a student and working at a law firm in Colorado. Tingle said she was studying social work and wanted to work with victims of domestic violence.

“My family means everything to me,” he said. “They’ve all stood behind me throughout this.”

Tingle said after 19 operations on his foot, he think he’s finished with surgery.

“I can walk on it and I am starting to run on it. I just take it one day at a time. It still hurts to walk. Once in a while I need a cane,” he said.

In addition to the physical therapy he receives on base, Tingle said he’s working on his own.

“It’s still scarred up,” he said. “It looks fat and rubbery, but I brought it back quite a lot.”

Tingle said he appreciated the chamber honor, but felt undeserving.

“Sometimes I feel guilty. I am not the only one who has been through this. A lot of people have more extensive injuries and there are those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. My heart goes out to them,” he said.

Tingle said he grieved for his Douglas classmate Pfc. Brandon Williams who was killed Oct. 9, 2006 in Baghdad.

“I consider him to be my brother-in-arms,” he said. “I would love to be like a son to his family.”