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Story ID:3763
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:San Antonio Texas USA
Person:Israel Del Toro
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By Fred Wickert

Israel Del Toro, a JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) specializes in directing aircraft support to ground troops. He tells them where to put their ordinance to do the most good. He suffered horrible injury from an IED in Afghanistan on December 4, 2005. (See THE TRIALS OF ISRAEL DEL TORO, Ourecho story ID#2250.)

His buddies fondly call him DT, He continues to mend after the ordeal that burned off his face and most of his fingers, mutilating both of his hands. The fingers he had remaining were melted to the point of fusing to his hand.

After finally reaching the United States, DT lay in a coma in a burn treatment ward in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas. President George Bush visited him there and whispered a blessing to him, but he never heard it.

Now, after 96 surgeries, DT is slowly improving. At least once a month and sometimes more, DT gives a talk to a group, where he tells his audience about what happened to him. He has titled his presentation, “The Day I went Boom! A Tale of Combat, Suffering and Survival in the Middle East.” One of the most recent presentations was at the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio.

DT now resides in Cibolo, Texas, a suburb of San Antonio. He keeps a garden, kicks around a soccer ball with his 5-year-old son, and he drives a car without any modifications, even though there is little left of his hands. He sent me an e-mail after he read the story I posted about him on Ourecho, so I know that he also manages to operate a computer.

DT is still a highly qualified JTAC and wants to stay on in the Air force as a JTAC instructor. He, many others, and myself believe he has much to offer the Air Force and should be allowed to stay to finish his career. At this time there has been no official decision by the Air Force on that question.

President Bush visited Wright Patterson Air Force Base at the same time DT was giving his presentation there and he missed seeing him only by minutes. DT wants to see President Bush again so that this time, he can remember it. He doesn’t have to go to the White House. The Bush ranch is right there in Texas. When the President is at his ranch for a few days vacation he could invite DT over for some bar-B-Q. How about it President Bush?