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02-22-03, 11:48 AM #1
Marine survives near fatal accident; lives to support OEF
MARCENT Marine survives near fatal accident; lives to support OEF
Submitted by: Marine Forces Central Command
Story Identification Number: 20032229388
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Shannon Arledge
PERSIAN GULF(Feb. 22, 2003) -- More than one year ago, Capt. David O. Singley reported to duty with the 2nd Force Service Support Group, Camp Lejeune, N.C. It was a brisk November evening and the Singley family was staying in the hosting house (their first night aboard the base) until they moved into their new home. That night he tucked his children into bed and he and his wife talked about their new base and plans for tomorrow.
The day was Nov. 2, 2001. It started like any other day. Winter was quickly reaching the Eastern Carolinas. Capt. Singley, waking around 6 a.m., prepared himself for a new day.
Without waking his children, he told his wife Monica he would return shortly with breakfast for her and the girls, then 8-year-old Tayler and 3-year-old Madison.
It was nearly 7:15 a.m., as Singley waited at a stop sign for an opportunity to cross the main street leading to "main side" of the base. Traffic was heavy as Lejeune's work force is large and most start work this time of day. The unimaginable was about to happen; the Singley family was about to face tragedy head on.
A driver who had just finished the night shift was returning home. Fatigued, he would fall asleep at the wheel of his vehicle. Traveling at approximately 45 mph the vehicle left the main road on a direct course for Singley's vehicle, where he struck a direct hit to the driver's side door.
Both drivers were injured, but Capt. Singley was the worse of the two. Pinned inside his vehicle, it took rescue workers 15 minutes to free the Marine. Doctors at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital stabilized the captain, flying him via life flight to a trauma unit capable of handling his serious injuries.
During this time, his family was waking to start their day at the Camp Lejeune lodging facility when they were notified.
"I was just getting up when the military police pounded on the door," said his wife Monica via email. "They asked that I step out of the room because the children were right there with me. They verified who I was and asked that I get my shoes and come with them. They said my husband was in an accident. The MPs didn't know if he was okay or not, they just said we needed to go. I was scared."
The list of injuries is vast, but in a respectable way, impressive--impressive because he survived.
When it was all over Capt. Singley sustained a fractured skull, with severe trauma to the brain; his optical nerves were damaged, which led to seven months of double vision; his vocal cords were paralyzed; he had a broken neck; he broke his left clavicle; he received a punctured lung that subsequently collapsed; his spleen was lacerated and was later removed during emergency surgery; both his hips and his pelvis were broken; he received a blood transfusion; and to complete the list, he was in a coma for three days where he was initially placed on life support.
"When I first saw David he was barely coherent," said Monica. "I knew his injuries were bad, but no one could tell the extent at that time. As they wheeled him out to the Life Flight they removed his cross necklace and his wedding ring and handed them to me. I did not know if I would see him alive again. I was terrified."
Over the past year Singley has been a common site at hospitals up and down the eastern seaboard. He spent three weeks in the hospital, nine days in the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Richmond, Va., and visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Center twice.
"I was on limited duty for eight months," said the 31-year-old, Peoria, Ill., native. "I had daily physical therapy appointments that focused on recovery. I didn't want to be on limited duty and recovery wasn't easy. I had some serious injuries. I couldn't believe the shape I was in."
Singley attributes his recovery to his wife, extended family, and the Marines and Sailors who encouraged him to get back on his feet. Monica stood by his side each day. His mother-in-law left her business in Illinois to care for the children, so Mrs. Singley could be with her husband at the hospital.
Early on it wasn't clear as to whether the Marine would survive this ordeal. In a coma, on life support, and suffering from potential brain damage, life was, at best, unsure. But, no one gave up.
"My families faith is strong, and my wife was right by my side," said Singley. "I almost didn't make it, Monica had it harder than I did though [she had to worry.]"
Looking back, the Marine logistics command liaison officer is excited to be where he is today. Most Marines set goals. But few are forced to set goals like walking again or leaving a wheelchair.
"I was determined not to quit or allow anyone to offer me a medical discharge [and they didn't]," said the captain. "I gave it my all, that's what Marines do; we gut it out and make it through."
The November accident came nearly two months after the attacks on Sept. 11. Along with thousands of other Marines around the world, Singley, too, wanted his chance to support Operation Enduring Freedom in a forward area. The accident was just a set back.
"I wasn't worldwide deployable," said Singley.
Falling into this category was unacceptable for the Marine, as he strived harder to achieve one of the most important goals of his life--to help fight the War on Terrorism.
"I did it, but, like I said, it wouldn't have been possible without my Monica [my wife], my children, in-laws and my command. I had commanding officers in the FSSG [who I didn't know] helping my family. They took care of us, and everyone was pulling for me.
"A wise NCO [non-commissioned officer] once told me that Marines help Marines." He continued, "I never knew what that meant until my accident. I saw camaraderie before, but nothing like I experienced. That NCO was my father."
Mrs. Singley applauds the system in place at Camp Lejeune that assists families in need. "Without their support we would have never made it. Now I fully understand why my husband has always said and always will say, 'The Marines are my life.'"
Singley stands out as a leader, and there's no doubt why. His father, who was a World War II veteran, fought at Tarawa and Guadalcanal. Passing away 14 years ago, Capt. Singley is carrying on the Marine tradition with his own family.
He admitted that he no longer scores an average of 286 on the physical fitness test. He admits he sometimes has problems moving his neck, along with some shoulder and hip pain. But, he offered, "a few months ago I couldn't even walk, I'm working on it."
When asked the question, "After so much hardship, why volunteer to serve in the Middle East and separate from your family?" Singley answered with a smile. "It wasn't fun saying goodbye to my family. The past year has been mostly recovery. I miss them and I know they miss me. I couldn't miss this opportunity to support my country and my family understands."
His wife added, "We are coping fine with the deployment. David is a great Marine and lives for his Marines. This deployment is something he has strived for. He wants to do more to serve his country and protect and help other Marines. He's fighting for what he believes in. We're proud of him and he's proud to be a Marine."
Serving in the Persian Gulf as the Marine Logistics Command Liaison Officer to Marine Forces Central Command, Singley ensures the 2nd FSSG has the supplies it needs to fight the war on terrorism in a forward area.
The FSSG has thousands of Marines in the forward area here, and it's Singley who ensures the commanders have near real-time communication with the higher command and the logistics to fight and win.
Capt. Singley arrived in the Gulf the second week in February and anxiously went straight to work to support his fellow war fighters. His children at home in Camp Lejeune no doubt worry about their father or "daddy" as he's normally called, but they can rest easier knowing that "daddy is one of the Marine Corps top warriors. Not only does he triumph over adversity, he has proven, in his own actions and words, that "tough times don't last, tough people do."
Capt. David O. Singley isn't just proud to say he's a Marine, he's proud to be alive. More than one year ago he was the victim of a tragic vehicle accident. Sustaining life-threatening injuries, Singley would need the next eight months to recover. Now the Marine officer, against the odds, has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Photo by: Gunnery Sgt. Shannon Arledge
02-22-03, 03:42 PM #2
wow thats a really touching story and the thing is it could happen to anyone. My husband normal worked night shifts so I know how tired he could get which sucked also cause we had lived like an hour from base. So sometime if he was late i'd call his cell to make sure he was alright. Thats good that he survived and it's cool that he's still going strong after something like that. What an awesome Marine.
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