Archived Story

Eslinger makes miraculous recovery

Published 7:27am Saturday, February 25, 2012


The slogan “Donny Strong” that Mary coined after her son was injured holds a meaning much deeper than Donny’s wounds. It inspires strength, stamina and faith in better days to come.

“I hope to come home after my surgery for 30 days,” Donny said. “I want to see my brother play baseball at JHS. I thought I would miss all of his games being deployed, so I really want to sit in the dugout, watching him like old times.”

Donny is non-deployable now because of his injuries, but he said he would join his fellow soldiers overseas again without a second thought if he could.

“I still belong to the Army,” he said. “I want to go back to Afghanistan to finish the mission or start a new one.

“We promised the ones that were killed in action to take care of business. I want to fulfill that promise, especially to Doug Cordo, who died a few weeks before this happened to me in the line of duty.”

Donny was promoted from private first class to specialist by his brigade commander while he was in ICU the day after his final surgery.

“It was a special moment as another member of his brigade who survived three gunshot wounds to the chest was promoted at the same time,” Mary said.

After he is released from rehab, Donny will report to the Warrior Transition Unit at Ft. Stewart in Georgia, where he will wait up to a year as the military medical board reviews his case and decides his future in the Army.

He plans to be in Alaska to see his unit arrive home in April.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “I miss all the guys in my platoon. I hope my story shows everyone that war is real, and I am one of the lucky ones that made it home.

“No matter if you are for or against the war itself, please support those who choose to sign up to defend our country.”

See more photos from Donny’s journey in PROGRESS 2012, which is on news stands Saturday, Feb. 25 through Monday, Feb. 27.

Print Friendly

Editor's Picks

Verbena student recognized for overcoming cerebral palsy

“The only things I can’t do are tie shoes and cut a steak,” Stephen Bryant said. Read more