Welcome

The family and friends of Cpl. Daniel C. W. Riley, USMC, welcome you to join in as we celebrate and support the life of an incredible young man, friend, son, and brother. It is with great love and with many prayers we know that Daniel will move on to great and wonderful things. God has big plans for him! Daniel was born in Victoria, BC, Canada. In 1999 his family (Dad, Mum, brothers Tristan and Aaron, & sister Elizabeth, & cat) moved to Denver, Colorado, where his dad began working for the Episcopal Church in Colorado overseeing work with children, youth, and young adults. Daniel started high school in 1999 at Columbine High School. After three years at CHS he finished his high school at Brentwood College in Canada in 2004. After which he did some college and worked in the US and Canada. Daniel enlisted (still a Canadian citizen) in US Marine Corps in 2008 to serve his new country and to help pay for a future college education. On July 4, 2009 Daniel swore in as a US citizen before the Vice-President in Sadam Hussein's old palace in Bagdad, Iraq. In September 2010 he was sent as a combat replacement for the 2/6 Marines in Marjah, Afghanistan. On December 16, 2010, Daniel was severely wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). He primarily suffered severe wounds to his legs, left arm, and left lung. There were many times he was close to not making it. He has since had both legs amputated above the knee and three fingers amputated on his left hand. His lung and other injuries are healing well. Before this event and for many years to come, we know Daniel to be a loving, caring, intellegent, humourous, giving, adventurous, and deep thinking person. Keep praying! And use this blog to share your thoughts and encouragement.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Mailing Address

The following is Daniel's mailing address -
LCpl Daniel C. W. Riley
8901 Wisconsin Ave.
Bldg. 10  Ward 5 East
Room # 2A
Bethesda, MD 20889-5601

Daniel is permitted limited visitors.  Please check in with the nurses station before entering his room; and limit the length of visits and keep it to three or less persons in the room at a time.  Thank you.

Dad

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Brother

They took both your limbs, but you kept your whole heart
Your still the same daniel, as you were from the start
You kept your strength, your smarts, and your wittiness too
Tried and true, you will always be you
My hero, my brother aand my best friend
I know you have my back, as i yours til the end
You can always call on me, and know ill be there
Thats a hearts promise, and to that i do swear
I may be away but look in your heart thats where ill be
I love you so dearly, and i hope that you do see

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Moving on up

Daniel is doing better and has been moved out of ICU up to the surgical ward/floor.  He continues to be scheduled for surgery every second day (or so).  He will be in surgery most of tomorrow morning.  He had a long day of seeing doctors, being moved, getting some early-stage rehab and moving around, visitors, and just a lack of sleep.  In his words, "It was a long and hard day; but, it was a good one."

With Daniel's encouragement (or orders) the rest of us spent the morning and early afternoon seeing some of the sights around The Mall in Washington, DC.  We finally felt that we could take some time away from hospitals and worry.  After a quick visit to the National Archives (Magna Carta, Bills of Rights, Constitution, and Declaration of Independence), Tristan, Aaron, and Justin visited the National Air and Space Museum (rockets, spacecraft, planes, Spirit of St. Louis).  Julia, Elizabeth, and I took in the National Museum of American History (Kermit the Frog, Julia Child's Kitchen, Dorothy's ruby shoes, and the inaugural ball dresses of the First Ladies).  Ya, I went with the wrong group!  ;-)

We ended up moving our waiting location during visiting times with Daniel (he only really needs a couple people at a time) from the ICU waiting room to the ones on his new floor.  Wow.  What a difference.  The ICU waiting room is nice and clean and well appointed.  The ones on the 5th Floor are horrendous!  They are dirty, messy, cluttered, and are very poorly equipped.  I know, in the midst of what has happened it seems a bit petty to be complaining about such things.  But, all these family and friends (many who are far from home, tired, exhausted, and concerned about their loved one) who I see wandering around really deserve better.  If I was to guess - everyone is meant to be responsible for the rooms, therefore, no one ends up being resposible for the rooms.  Sad, really.  Oh well, we are happy and grateful for family, friends, and the support of so many!

Dad

ps - please pray for Jennifer and her son (didn't get his name).  They are from Colorado and he suffered very similar wounds to Daniel and is not doing very well after being in Bethesda for a month and a half - now back in ICU.

"Anonymous"

Dear friends and family.  We encourage you to post "comments", we are just asking that if you post as "Anonymous" or other catchy title would you please include your name in the comments themselves.  This helps Daniel know who is out there following along.  Thanks.

- Dad

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Casualty Report" - December 16, 2010; 11:25am

Dear friends and family,  (please be aware of "disturbing" and some detailed information below)

Daniel and I talked and felt that it is prudent to now inform all those who love and care for Daniel of the extent of some of his wounds he suffered.  He hopes to give people enough information to allow for more informed prayers and to help people understand the nature of his condition and begin to understand the very long journey ahead of him.  He also hopes people will have time to absorb the information while he is somewhat isolated in the ICU.  He believes this will afford those who know and support him time to process the information.  He is very concerned that he will be the cause of others' worry, sadness, and anxiety.  In fact, he has spent as much time, or more, comforting others as being comforted (those who know Daniel will understand how much that is part of who he is).

To the best of Daniel's recollection and from information we have been able to glean so far .... On December 16, 2010, Daniel was with his platoon doing a routine sweep of an area near Marjah, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.  They had "tagged" two IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and they were heading out when at 11:25am a third IED, that escaped discovery, went off right beside/under him.   "Doc", who was close behind Daniel, immediately attended to him.  Within seconds a radio call went out for a med-evac chopper. Daniel was picked up (we are told he was cracking jokes while being loaded on) and was being operated on at Camp Dwyer by 11:45am.  His was life was saved by the quick response of "Doc", the support of his fellow Marines, the fast removal of him to the hospital, the immediate and excellent attention of the medical staff, and the merciful hand and grace of God.  We praise the Lord that key individuals were in the right place and at the right place at his side and at hospitals throughout the ordeal.

Daniel sustained major injuries to his legs and left hand. He also had a few "less significant" wounds.  From the official Casualty Report (and what was read to his father when he got "the call") .....

"LCpl Riley, male, 0311, sustained the amputation of his left leg below the knee, amputation of his right leg above the knee, amputation of three fingers from his left hand and an injury to his left lung, while conducting combat operations against enemy forces."

Since then he has had extensive and lengthy surgery at least nine separate times and will likely have many more in the weeks and months to come.  Due to infection and other complications he has since had his left leg amputated above the knee.  On his left hand his pinky, ring, and middle fingers were amputated.  The thumb and index finger are looking good.  He has suffered no discernable brain injury and his left lung has healed very well. No other major internal organs received injury. He may have some minor hearing damage - that may clear up in time.

We will do our best to keep people informed about his recovery.  It will be a considerable and lengthy journey that will require your prayers and support.  He is already speaking of the future and what he wants to do and accomplish; while at the same time he says he is trying to focus on "taking it day-by-day".

He passes on his thanks for all the support and prayers he has already received.  He also says that he hopes people will not "worry about him."  He again said, "I'll be fine; it's all good."

On Daniel's behalf,
Dad and family

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Resting in ICU - a good day.

Daniel is resting well in ICU. Pain is being managed well and he is stable. We have been able to visit him a few times. He has also had visits from his godparents, Ludvik and Cindy Bukach, and their daughter, Tania. We were also told that he was visited by the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General (4-star) Dunford.  Also a visit from Bishop James Magness. Of course, in true Daniel style, he worked hard to try and comfort us!

Last night we were telling him that lots of people were praying for him. We indicated that "his parish" - the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Vail, was especially praying and concerned for him. He then got all excited and shared how he kept a small knitted "prayer shawl" in his sleeve every single day. He wanted to make sure we passed on a thank you to the lady who made it for him. He also said that his whole unit had the ones made for them as well. It was very special to him. Earlier we had been given his "personal effects" that included a boot, his watch, a dog tag, and the prayer shawl! It is now on his wall to be able to look at and remind him of God's presence and the prayers of the Body of Christ.


pictured: the small prayer shawl.

Today was a good day.  We had plenty of time with him and he was very "chatty".  We smiled, laughed, made jokes, prayed, and had some very real conversations about his situation.  He wanted his family close and enjoyed the company and to hear and tell stories.  I enjoyed a few hours with him.  It was very special to me.  He is a great young man, I am very proud of him.  It will be a long journey, but one we take with each other, our support communities, and the Lord.

At the same time we are all VERY tired and trying to avoid being grumpy with each other.  Not always easy.

- Dad    =)

Friday, December 24, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Dear friends and family,

Four hours ago we got a call that Daniel was stable and had actually made it on to a med-evac flight and he would be arriving in three hours. So the short story for now .... we just saw Daniel! It was very brief and he was asleep. But, he is here, he is stable, and we are gathered together.

The BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!!

Thank you, baby (and Lord) Jesus.

Delayed

We have talked to Daniel a couple times. While he sounds better and we have had some good conversations, he continues to have some medical issues and therefore will not be getting out of Germany today. We have no idea when he will be getting to the USA. So looks like Christmas apart. We are really sad as we rattle around the hotel and Bethesda area. Thankful that our friends, the Bukach family, have come up from Richmond, VA, to be here with us.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ways to help

[updated]
Blessed friends - so good that people are aware and offering to help financially with the current and future needs of Daniel and his family. In the early hours following Daniel's injuries and his family being informed, a fund was set up by veterans, who had met Daniel, at The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration. The fund is to help the Rileys travel to be with Daniel and to help with any future needs he has. If you choose to give, thank you so much, no matter the route. Below is the information for this fund.

Daniel Riley Fund
Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration
PO Box 1000
Vail CO 81658-1000

(make checks payable to "Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration" and note "Riley Fund"; I'm working on an online mechanism and will update when available).

I'm in daily contact with Neil and expect that he will keep us all up to date in this blog until Daniel can take it over. In any case, I'll make sure to make known other ways to help them all as Daniel and his family discover their needs. And don't hesitate to contact me if you think of something missed.

Yours, in Christ,
Scott
padrescott@gmail.com/719-487-0882

Complications

Due to some medical complications and some further surgery Daniel was unable to be placed on the med-evac flight today. He has therefore been delayed until at least Friday. We got the news while in flight to Maryland. We are here and will anxiously await his arrival. Thanks for the prayers and support. This change has hit us kinda hard - we were really planning in our hearts to see him today. I trust God's timing will prevail and His grace will cover us in the meantime. Just really hard on a mother awaiting her hurt "little boy", and father awaiting his "little soldier", and siblings awaiting their "big brother".

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

from the "you-gotta-be-kidding" file

  • Got a call from the 2/6 Marines family readiness officer.  Daniel has left Germany and is heading to the US.
  • Talked to Marine HQ - Daniel has left Germany so we can process your Invitational Travel Orders
  • Marine Liason, Bethesda - travel orders are all in order, Daniel en-route from Germany, we are working on accomodation, etc.
  • Phone call from Daniel - I'm still in Germany!
Nooooo.... , his plane did not leave without him.  Actually, that would make sense.  Perhaps everyone knew the plane left and assumed Daniel was on it.
Nooooo.... , it seems that the plane, with Daniel on it, got out on the runway and had to turn back for weather.
Nooooo.... , nobody thought to tell anyone that it didn't leave.

So, are our Invitational Travel Orders plans valid?  Yes!  We were informed by Marine HQ and Marine Liason, Bethesda, that they will be valid.  They would not reissue them. Why? Because, they admit, the Marine Corps made a mistake.  "Ya think!"  At this point i am really really laughing!  The NCO on the other end laughing as well.  Nice to be able to have some fun and humour in all this.

So, it seems we will be there before him.  He will be out tomorrow - we hope - depending on weather.

At this point, i can only smile, laugh, and shake my head.  And, to be honest, the church doesn't run any better.  ;-)

Getting closer

While the waiting is pure agony we have a better picture of what we are doing and we know that Daniel has left Germany and should arrive at Andrews Airforce Base late today.  Last word i got was that, "Daniel took off on time; he is happy, alert, and listening to music." 
That text was from a co-worker, the Rev. Col. (Ret) Carl Andrews, Ch, USAF.  Carl is the Canon to the Ordinary in the Bishop's Office and was "USAF (Europe) Command Chaplain" and still has an incredible network of contacts with the chaplains.  He has been a huge help to our family.  It is through him that we had the wonderful level of communication.  We are extremely grateful to him for his great help, insight, wisdom, and care.
Our family will be heading out first thing tomorrow to meet up with Daniel.  We are struggling with the waiting - a true Advent place to be.  But, we know we are in God's hands.

Daniel's family gathered at home (with our 15' tree): Neil (father), Julia (mother), Tristan (18, brother), Aaron (17, brother), Elizabeth Mills (sister), Justin Mills (brother-in-law), Abigail Schuster (Aaron's significant other), and Allie Masse (Tristan's really signifiant other).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Next stop, the U S of A

We just finished calling over to Landstuhl hospital to find out how Daniel was doing. After finally getting to the ICU we asked about Daniel's condition. The nurse's response, "He's right here, would you like to talk to him?". Even in the surprise and excitement I did have some snappy comebacks for the nurse, but decided to just say "yes" - politely. Though still a little groggy from post-surgery medications, he sounded well, alert, and was still concerned about not worrying us! He asked about his marine buddies and that they are aware of his situation, he asked about us meeting him, and he asked us to bring him some beverages. Tired of hospital food already?!?

He is scheduled to arrive at Andrews Airforce Base (Washington, DC) tomorrow about 5:00pm, then to Bethesda Naval Hospital. We are in frantic "get-ready" mode and waiting for travel orders and arrangements to be made. Good news! God is good.


in Germany

Got word that he has arrived safely in Germany. Waiting on medical assessment to know what's next for him and us.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wheels up

We were very excited to find out that Daniel is "wheels up" and on his way to Landstuhl, Germany (15-17 hour trip). One more step to getting back and being able to see him. Pray for safe travel. We are still many hours from finding out where and when we will be connecting with him. But, we are very hopeful for Christmas Day with him.


Praise God for the little things

Praise God for the little things
A voice, a word, a smile
A finger and a thumb
And big things too
A life, a son.

In honor of our dear friend and godson, Daniel C. W. Riley, seriously wounded in Afghanistan Dec 16, 2010.

Daniel, our hearts and prayers are with you. Come home to us soon.

"Hey, It's all good"

One more thing to pass on (another true Daniel-ism) .... At one point in the phone call he said, "Hey, it's all good". Those who know him know that phrase of Daniel's and understand that it is a word from him for us all not to worry - another good sign.


Hearing his voice - pure joy!

We just got off the phone with Daniel. We were able to talk to him, tell him of our love and support of him, and we had the joy of hearing his voice! We passed on the love of all his family, friends, and Marine buddies.

He was able to talk enough so we could clearly hear his alertness and we could even hear him tell the nurse that he was fine and didn't want the oxygen mask put back on. He said he was hanging in there. He sent his love all his family. He asked about his marine buddies. And he even gave us a "meh" - a very true Daniel-ism.

It was a short call, and we had to do most of the talking, but he heard us and he was able to alertly respond. We are so very thankful for ever little thing and hearing his voice was pure joy.

Thank you Lord God.

- a very relieved Father


Saturday, December 18, 2010

December 16-18, 2010 - getting up to speed

On December 16, 2010 at 8:30am I got "the call" - the call a parent of a soldier dreads to get - informing me that my son, Daniel, had been seriously injured while serving in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.  I will never ever forget that call, or the hours, and days to follow.  It was the worst moment of my life so far.  But, God's grace was there, whether I felt it or not.  And many of the "coincidences" that have followed have been evidence that the Lord Jesus is with us all, and Daniel!  I know and trust, even though I don't always feel it, that God will walk through this with us all.

From my Facebook updates ...

after word had been given to family and close friends, and after word had spread ..... (December 16, 2010; 8:57pm)  Please continue to pray for our son, Daniel. He was injured today by an IED while serving as a US Marine in Afghanistan. Last we heard he is in stable but serious condition. He has significant injuries to his legs, left hand/arm, and left lung. He is still in Afghanistan and will be moved to Germany when stable enough..., then to Bethesda, MD. We will update as we know more.

(December 16, 2010, 10:39pm)  Daniel update .... from chaplain source in Bagram, Afghanistan, who is on the look out for him.... Daniel stable enough to be moved to Bagram airforce base hospital in Afghanistan. Scheduled on first flight in the morning.

after another call from a chaplain, Maj. Sarah Shirley, USAF, who was with Daniel while in Bagram Air Field Hospital ..... (December 17, 2010, 10:43am)   just found out that Daniel is presently in flight to Bagram Airforce Base. We have a connection with chaplain there who is looking out for him and is going to get specific messages to him and will give him a cell phone to call as soon as he is able to talk.

(December 17, 2010, 3:05pm) Just got off the phone with the chaplain, Sarah, in Bagram. She met Daniel as he arrived, and before he went in for more surgery she annointed him, prayed for him, whispered all our love to him, and kissed him on the forehead on our behalf. She will call me when he is out of surgery.

(December 17, 2010, 7:31pm) Daniel out of surgery, things went well, doing okay.

(December 18, 2010, 7:50am) from chaplain at Daniel's bedside in Bagram ... "Daniel is resting now, and doing as well as can be expected".

(December 18, 2010, 3:00pm) Chaplain in Bagram just told us Daniel is doing well and is stable. He is alert and has been getting messages from us and he recognises and remembers the messages. We were able to get a picture of all us gathered to him and a special picture from his brothers (that he "smiled" at and gave a thumbs up). Perhaps more surgery. At least 24 hours before being moved to Landstuhl, Germany.