Right before going into emergency surgery in Iraq in 2004, Statesville resident Dale Beatty, left, found a face from home - nurse anesthetist Bill Giles of Huntersville.
Bill Giles and Dale Beatty last met three years ago in an operating room in Mosul, Iraq, after an explosion tore through Beatty's
Giles' face was the last face that Beatty
, an Army National Guardsmen, saw before life-saving surgery.And it was a face from home.Beatty was an inspiration among the hundreds of patients that Giles, a nurse anesthetist with the Army Reserve, helped in Iraq.
Even with part of his leg missing, the other one mangled and burns on his face and on one eye, Beatty
was calm, Giles remembered.
"North Carolina," Beatty
"Me too," Beatty
replied, adding that he
grew up in Statesville.
was taken to Germany for further treatment after his emergency surgery, and always wanted to talk to Giles again.
Giles, who lives in Huntersville and works at CMC-University
, wondered how Beatty
Giles told him about Beatty
, and Brower arranged the reunion.
walked through the door on two prosthetics.
As they reminisced, Beatty
was seated in the passenger seat of the Humvee when an anti-tank mine went off under him.Fire and heat seared his
face as it flashed through the vehicle.But everyone survived.
A soldier in a vehicle ahead of his
came to his
"I kept asking him where all my guys were because I didn't see them.Everyone got thrown out of the vehicle," he
said."I didn't want to scare him by screaming."
, 26 at the time, tried to stay calm.
eventually went to Walter Reed Army Medical Center
in Washington, D.C., where he
remained for about a year recovering from his
was featured in a front-page Observer article on Jan. 18, 2005.
Giles said he
saw a photo of Beatty
with President Bush and first lady Laura Bush in the Army Times
, and was proud he
had helped him survive.Beatty
said the hardest thing has been knowing how much stress his
wounds caused his
family because he
couldn't do anything about it.Beatty
was about 6 feet 2 inches tall before the blast, and now stands about 5 feet 11.He
can adjust his
prosthetics to his
original height when he's
ready, but just hasn't done it yet.He's
been busy, working hard just to learn to walk and do many of the things he
loved before being wounded, he
is playing the drums again in his
band, Southern Fried Musician's Association
.In the fall, he
bicycle 26.2 miles in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.Beatty is working again as a civilian contractor for the N.C. National Guard, and still living in Statesville.He's also director of community and military affairs for a nonprofit group, Project American Spirit, which plans to help build homes for wounded veterans starting this year.
"The thing I remember about Dale
was how calm he
was, how devastating his
injuries were and how he's
taken it in stride in his
just an inspirational guy."
Project American Spirit
To learn more about the organization Dale Beatty
is helping to lead, visit www.projectamericanspirit.org.