Soldier receives Purple Heart award Monday

Published 4:36 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2011

President Barack Obama awarded PFC Donny Eslinger, 19, of Jemison the Purple Heart on Monday, Oct. 10 for wounds he sustained in Afghanistan in September.

Eslinger was flown from Germany to the United States in a C17 plane last Tuesday and is now receiving treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.

“President Obama was so personable,” said Mary Sazera, Eslinger’s mother. “He hugged us and joked with us. Wow…it was an emotional moment.”

In a Facebook post on Oct. 10, Eslinger’s father, Don Eslinger Sr., said Eslinger “was very verbal, the most promising activity since the incident.”

When officers from the U.S. Army Association presented Eslinger with a Soldier’s Creed plaque and a “pep talk” later that day, Eslinger apparently replied with “Hooah,” a military term often used in affirmation or acknowledgement.

As of Oct. 8, Eslinger’s father said his chest wound, fractured leg and shrapnel wounds were healing well, and he was recovering from brain surgery for a traumatic brain injury.

“Donny would not be here today if it were not for the bravery, courage and selflessness of his Battle Buddies and the highly skilled medical professionals that took decisive action along the way,” Don Eslinger said. “‘Thank you’ will never be enough.”

A slogan many, including Eslinger’s parents, have used the past few weeks is “Donny Strong.”

With continued progress, prayers and a Purple Heart in his hand, Eslinger is armed for his recovery and what Sazera called a “hero’s homecoming” when he eventually returns to Chilton County.