This is my friend, Israel “DT” Del Toro Jr. DT is a real American hero, retired as Senior Master Sergeant in the Air Force. He was blown up when his humvee rolled over a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. He had third degree burns over 80% of his body, he was in a coma for four months, and he was given a 15% likelihood to survive. Doctors said he would never walk again or breathe on his own.
My friend survived, breathes on his own, and walked out of the hospital weeks after he woke from his coma. He became the first completely disabled veteran to re-enlist in the Air Force.
When I met DT, he invited me to write his story. I said, “Sir, this is a remarkable story of courage and hope. May I ask you, why haven’t you written it before now?”
He held up his scarred hands, and he said, “Because I lost most of my fingers that day. I can’t type.”
I swallowed hard. I said, “I’ll take it from here, sir.”
Today, I had a front row seat as DT and his wife Carmen received a mortgage-free, fully equipped smart home, on behalf of Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
I spent the day in the presence of TACP Air Force officers, Purple Heart warriors, as well as the Battalion Commander of FDNY who lost many men on September 11.
I spent the day saying, “Thank you for your service.”
DT and I have written his memoir that will be released this summer, with Saint Martin's Press.
Knowing this man is a great privilege of my life. Writing his story has been one of the greatest honors.
Welcome home, DT.