KEY WEST, Fla. - A paratrooper injured in Iraq took the final step in his recovery the last week of June - a step out the tailgate of a military aircraft into the skies above Key West, Fla.
Sgt. Daniel Powers of the 118th Military Police Company (Airborne), 503rd Military Police Battalion (Abn.), 16th Military Police Brigade (Abn.) completed his first parachute jump from a military aircraft June 23, since being stabbed in the head with a 9-inch knife while serving in Iraq.
"This jump brings our story full circle, it gives it a conclusion," said Trudy, Powers' wife, commenting on her husband's recovery and successful jump. Trudy was a guest of the brigade in Key West and watched her husband and 29 other paratroopers descend from an Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft into the ocean waters near Fleming Key. The jump was Powers' 44th jump and his first from an aircraft's tailgate into water.
Powers was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq as a squad leader when he was injured. He was investigating the site of an explosion when an Iraqi teenager moved in behind him and plunged a 9-inch knife into his head.
"It felt like someone kind of clothesline tackled me and a thump on the side of the head, like a bang," said Powers in a 2007 interview with Bob Woodruff of ABC News.
Powers was evacuated to receive medical aid from doctors in Iraq who extracted the knife while preserving his life. He was later transported by the Air Force on a non-stop flight from Iraq to the United States for further treatment.
Powers participated in physical therapy to rehabilitate his body and gain back his balance, the loss of which was one of the major effects of his injury. He went through multiple surgeries to repair damage from the knife and subsequent recovery periods.
Throughout his recovery, Powers was determined to recover and lead Soldiers as a military
policeman and as a paratrooper again.
"I had to get back and back into the fight," said Powers in a recent interview with Michelle Tan of the Army Times. "Back to work and back into the fight because it's not over yet."
Powers prepared for the jump by completing refresher parachute jump training and conducting water training which required him to swim beneath a parachute resting on the pool's surface.
Col. John Garrity, brigade commander, 16th Military Police Brigade (Abn.), led Powers out of the aircraft traveling 1,280 feet above the waters of Key West. Powers' parachute deployed smoothly and he prepared his equipment and his body for a water landing.
After being recovered, Powers met his wife, Trudy, on the shore of Fleming Key. The couple hugged, kissed and shared the moment, with tears in their eyes.
Powers is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan later in July and he will meet up with his unit, the 118th Military Police Brigade (Abn.), which deployed in the mid of April. He will work in the operations cell of the company, managing the flow of information coming from units out on the battlefield.
"They'll always be my guys no matter where they are" said Powers to Michelle Tan of Army Times about the paratroopers who were once in his squad. "I still hear from some of them who have gotten out, which is always nice. The 118th ... they're all my guys too, so I can't wait to get back with them."