Sgt. Daniel Casara explains the leg injury he received while serving in Iraq. (Photo: Wendy Heise)
Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— As Americans take time to celebrate Memorial Day with cook outs and parades, the day now has more meaning to some veterans like U.S.Army Sgt. Daniel Casara, 32, of University Park. Casara's mother, Elaine Casara Patterson, resides in Park Forest.
On Sept. 23, 2005, while on a routine mission in Southern Bagdad, Casara was in an M113 armored personal carrier which rolled over an improvised explosive device causing the tank to flip. Two on board the tank were killed, and four were wounded. Casara was one of those four.
Casara was in the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas from Oct. 1 2005 to Jan. 31 2006. He returned home Feb. 1, 2006. Casara received bilateral fractures in his right tibia and fibula, dislocated his right hip and has a titanium rod in his left leg.
Casara’s described his last mission as a routine scouting mission.
“We were going out to gather intel, nothing dangerous, not going to grab someone or chase anyone. Just an intel gathering mission. In that, we split off from convoy, and in our forward movement we rolled over the explosive,” Casara said.
Casara said he had his doubts about how much of an effect the troops were having.
“Personally, I wondered if we were doing enough good. If our chipping away was going to break the ice or just make more ice,” he said. “Like anything else in life, when you are asked to do something, whether you like it or not...you’re going to do it if you want to keep your job. This is something we volunteered for, war is part of the reason we train. The sad part is there are thousands of lives that are being taken in just this conflict alone. This is what we volunteered to do, so you have to take the good with the bad.”
Despite the injury he received, Casara said he does not regret his decision to enlist.
“The military has really balanced me, made me who I am today. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. Thirteen years ago, if I knew what I know today, I still would have enlisted, just because of what the military has done for me as individual.”
Although Casara admits he “doesn’t have the same intel as the pentagon,” he feels that there could have been a different course of action than war.
“I definitely think it’s something that could have been avoided, and can still be avoided. There are so many better things we could do with the money, and the resources, and the power rather than pump it into this conflict,” he said. “Hard for any of us to say “this is why we’re over there”. We could speculate all day long, but the fact remains, President Bush made the decision to send us over there and we made the decision to be part of this organization.”
Casara said his major push has been to help other veterans coming back from the war recover and get back to their lives.
Sgt. Casara (seated left) watches his daughter Destiny field the soccer ball last week at Somonauk Park. (Photo: Wendy Heise)
“All we can do is rally together as a people to help the situation we are facing right now with hurt soldiers, hurt marines and injured sailors coming back to their families are having financial difficulties and having rough time with health care,” he said. “Lets rally around and find a way how to help people coming back.”
Having been to war and been near death, Casara said his view on life has been changed, and tries to find more positive and less negative in any given situation.
“I used to look at the glass as half empty, now I look at it as half full. And then I ask myself, what I can do to make that glass completely full”
Casara currently lives in University Park with his wife and 2 children and is working part time at Palace Home Mortgage in Olympia Fields, and said because of support from organizations that his family has not had to worry about financial issues.
“God has definitely blessed me to be in the position I’m in,” he said.
Casara said from here he only hopes to go straight up. Aside from upcoming surgeries, he is going to continue to enjoy his life and family and help veterans however he can.
“I can only go forward”
Main page photo: Sgt. Daniel Casara, daughter Destiny, wife Gabrielle, and son Denali. (Photo: Wendy Heise)