Wellsville man wounded in Afghanistan

John Anderson
Daniel Butler

A Wellsville man was knocked unconscious for two days when a truck bomb exploded outside a small American base in Afghanistan on Wednesday morning, July 13.

Daniel Butler, a 2008 Wellsville High School graduate and a U.S. Army combat medic, was one of 22 soldiers injured in the southern Wardak province. Four Afghan civilians were also injured, military officials said, as the explosion “tore a hole nearly 30 feet wide in the earth-filled barriers surrounding the base, flattening several prefabricated buildings and heavily damaging the command center.”

Butler woke Friday and was able to call his parents in Wellsville, N.Y. They knew only he had a suffered a “temporary brain injury.”

Military officials said it was a suicide bomb and the remains of the driver of the truck were found hundreds of feet away.

Capt. Matthew Roehm, of the 4th Brigade, said in Stars and Stripes, “Investigators believe a suicide bomber using up to 2,000 pounds of explosives was responsible for the blast. This is the first time we’ve seen that massive an amount of explosives in one spot. Some serious planning went into it.”

Roehm told Stars and Stripes the bomber drove to the southern side of Dash-e-Towp around 6 a.m., inching close to the perimeter on what Roehm described as a dirt path between the outpost and an Afghan police training center.

The blast punched through the Hescos and into the command center, ripping up the building’s interior and wounding soldiers working there. The explosion’s pressure wave was powerful enough to destroy four prefabricated barracks, similar to shipping containers, and rip doors from hinges a half-mile away.

“No one was living in the (barracks) at the time, or they definitely would have been killed,” Roehm said.

Butler was able to email the Wellsville Daily Reporter and said, “It was a 1-ton vehicle bomb and I was in the blast radius of it, but I was lucky. I’m in a TBI (traumatic brain injury) clinic now and being evaluated to see if I can stay in the fight.”

His father, William Butler, is not surprised his son wants to stay.

“When he found out he could go to this place where the worst things are happening, he elected to go there,” he said. “He gets to be on the d-line the whole time. But he made the decision and chose something he could do to help others. And he’s good at it.

“I am proud of all my kids, every one of them has a special place in your heart,” William Butler continued. “I just know where he’s at, and I know what the conditions are, and it’s nothing you would wish on your worst enemy. You worry about him every minute and think about it all the time.”

His mother, Shelley Butler, is asking for prayers for her son, who received the Combat Medic Badge on his birthday, March 28.

She said in addition to her son being hurt, five others he works with were in a trauma unit as they were airlifted to Germany. Dan Butler was airlifted out to a field outpost in Afghanistan.

Shelley Butler said she was told by military officials the suicide bomber drove a truck packed with explosive, shrapnel and rocks.

The family was told he was 50 feet form the explosion and shock waves knocked him out.

“They will make a determination if he stays in country or stays stateside,” William Butler said. “You just keep going, try to keep your mind occupied, if you dwell on it, you will go nuts.

“What can you do? He’s 12,000 miles away where there are no phones and running water,” his father continued. “No one from Afghanistan is going to call and say, ‘Your kid is fine, eating ice cream, watching movies.’ You get calls from people stateside who get what information they can get.”