Fye, whose family lives in Antioch, was a bomb technician serving his fourth tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force. His job involved searching for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and destroying them to secure the area for his fellow troops.
The Pittsburg High graduate, 30, already had a bad feeling about May 27. The day before, he lost two of his friends to IED explosions.
During the process of searching for the explosives in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan, Fye stepped on one. The blast cost him the lower part of his left leg and shattered his right leg. He’s currently recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas and will soon begin physical therapy and be fitted for a prosthesis.
Fye and everyone around him knows it could have been much worse. “All I was missing was part of my leg and my other leg was damaged, but I still have it,” Fye said. “I was alive and thankful to be going home to my family.”
A former member of the Pittsburg High Marching Band, Fye has gone through seven surgeries and incredible amounts of pain, as his right leg is being reformed and strengthened with steel rods. Fye credits the support of his family and friends as crucial in getting him through this rough patch. His high school sweetheart wife of 11 years, Nicole, has been an important force in his recovery, as have their four children. Nicole actually arrived at the medical center a day before he did.
“I couldn’t make it through this without her,” Daniel said. “She’s been an amazing support throughout the whole thing.”
Daniel’s siblings – Josh, 27, and Sara, 19 – have also been with him. Sara, Daniel’s mother Janice noted, took all her college classes online this semester in order to be on hand to help out.
Daniel believes his faith has been a major foundation of his emotional strength. “With all the pain he’s been going through and all the many surgeries, he’s just standing strong,” Janice said. “He lifts the other peoples’ spirits there (at the hospital) all the time.”
Local military booster Josie Monaghan, founder of the East County Veterans Association, has planned a barbecue fundraiser for Daniel. The event takes place Aug. 20 at 4 p.m. in the parking lot of Winner’s Circle Western Wear, 20 W. 10th St. in Antioch. The $20 admission includes food and a drink.
Monaghan has known the Fye family for years, as Daniel received care packages and letters through the East County Veterans. She knows the support helps lift the spirits of soldiers going through this kind of anguish. “The most important thing is not just raising money,” Monaghan said, “but it’s for his morale and for his family, to show how much encouragement we’re giving him and the support. Sometimes that’s the best medicine you can give them.”
Meanwhile, in San Antonio, Daniel is waiting to start the next phase of his life. About a year ago, Daniel and Nicole settled down in Washington. After the explosion, Nicole and their four children have been staying in Texas, waiting for the chance to regain some sense of normalcy.
Daniel said that he’s considering staying with the Air Force, teaching soldiers in Florida how to safely handle IEDs.
“He’s an amazing young man,” Janice said. “He’s my hero.”