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Local parents proud of son's duty

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Caring for wounded or ill warriors is a top priority for the son of a Stockbridge couple. He works at the largest American hospital outside the United States.

Navy Reserve Petty Officer 2nd Class Randy Daniel, son of Dan and Catherine Daniel, has learned the realities of war like his father and grandfather did before him.

"Ironically, his grandfather lost his eyesight fighting the Germans in World War II," said Dan Daniel. His grandfather is 86-year-old J.W. Daniel, of Hapeville.

Daniel is a hospital corpsman assigned to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, located in the Rheinland-Pfalz region of Germany. He is part of a medical team responsible for the care of patients, most coming from war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan.

The wounded are flown to nearby Ramstein Air Base and rushed to the hospital by the U.S. Air Force's 435th Aeromedical Contingency Facility team.

"I screen patients for traumatic brain injuries," said Daniel, a 1992 graduate of Stockbridge High School. "I also assist physicians in processing and returning the hospital's outpatients from Iraq and Afghanistan back to either, the U.S. for continued care, or back to the front lines."

Randy Daniel's team is part of an extensive network of care for service members' needs, from medical and rehabilitation, to nutrition and spiritual guidance.

Since 2003, a "total force" of Air Force, Army, Navy, active-duty, Reserve and Guard members has provided support and care for more than 80,000 patients. They tend to the needs of military dependents and Department of Defense employees living in the region as well.

"My unit's mission is to get our service members back in the fight, or get them the medical care that they need, if they are unable to get back in the fight," said Daniel. "We also do detections and treatment of traumatic brain injuries. We deliver the highest level of care our troops deserve coming from down range."

Despite the long hours and working in one of the more stressful jobs in the military, Daniel lives in surroundings and circumstances that few Americans get to experience.

"Life in Germany is challenging. The challenges here are trying to find a balance between the mission, my family and my free time," he said. "There is a six- to 10-hour time difference between here and some of my family," he said.

"There are opportunities here to grow in my vocation. There are opportunities to travel and opportunities to advance. Germany is beautiful and scenic, and its people are warm and hospitable," he said.

Daniel, a resident of Jacksonville, Fla., has served in the Navy for about 13 years. He served nearly seven years on active duty and about that in the Navy Reserve. He has been assigned to such places as Orlando, Great Lakes, Ill., Parris Island, S.C., and Norfolk, Va., aboard the USS Saipan.

"I think he's doing a great job," added Daniel's father, Dan, who, served in the U.S. Army. "He has a good work ethic. He's very serious. He takes whatever he does for a living very seriously."

Randy Daniel is expected to arrive back in the states within the next few weeks. Then, he may have an opportunity to meet his first nephew, his brother Billy's expected child, whose birth is expected in December.

"We're just glad to see him coming home," added Dan.

-- Phyllis Hanson of Army & Air Force Hometown News Service contributed to this article.