Hometown: Emmetsburg, Iowa
Branch of Service: Sargent in the US Marine Corp
Injury: TBI, PTSD, Two Herniated Disks, shrapnel to the face, head, and torso
Injury Date: 2003/2004
Dan Sidles grew up in Emmetsburg, a small town in Iowa, where in high school, he wrestled and played football as a defensive and offensive lineman. Following a year of community college, he followed his older brother into the Marines. Shortly before the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dan was sent to boot camp, where he graduated as the Platoon Honorman, and then he continued to the School of Infantry to become a machine gunner.
As a team member of the 2003 invasion of Southern Iraq, Dan pushed as far north as Nasiriyah. He returned home in the summer of 2003 and was redeployed to Fallujah in March of 2004 for Operation Vigilant Resolve, or the First Battle of Fallujah.
On two separate occasions during his second deployment, Dan was struck by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and received shrapnel wounds to the head, neck and shoulder. The first attack happened on the same day the American contractors where murdered and hung from the bridge.
The second attack came later, on July 5th, as Dan’s unit was going after the mortar men who had just attacked them. Dan recalls, “They basically baited us in. My vehicle took point and was ambushed. My gunner lost his hand and our corpsman lost his arm.” Despite his injuries, Dan continued to serve, “I didn’t spend a day in the hospital. Actually a week later I was out on patrol again and my vehicle parked on top of another IED that didn’t go off. When the EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) showed up, they told me, ‘We have no idea why it didn’t go off and why you’re still alive.’”
For his injuries, Dan was awarded the Purple Heart. During his service, he was meritoriously promoted in the field. And he was given a Certificate of Commendation for “expertly prosecuting enemy targets during multiple engagements with enemy forces in and around Fallujah.” The best-selling book, No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah, by Bing West, was written about Dan’s battalion.
After returning home to the United States, Dan served his last year with the Marine Corps as an instructor in the Markmanship Training Unit. Currently, he enjoys working out, playing guitar and watching movies.
“My recovery has been a nightmare at times,” states Dan. “The war is not fought over there, it’s fought when you get back. I really don’t have too many people in my life. I’ve burned a lot of bridges. I keep mainly to myself.”
Regarding his participation in World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ Soldiers to the Summit expedition in October, 2010, Dan said, “This opportunity to go to Nepal seems to be too good to be true. I have not climbed, but I am excited to learn and to get a rush out of life again. I am looking forward to this new experience.”