Darryl Wallace has returned home from a war half way around the world.
But the 24-year-old McDuffie County man isn't the same. The war in Afghanistan changed him forever.
Despite having lost one leg and part of the other one, PFC Wallace said he would do it all over again.
"I felt it was worth it for my country," said PFC Wallace in an exclusive interview with The McDuffie Mirror last week. "I'd go right back over there, if I could, because they're (fellow soldiers) my family."
He vows that if he starts walking well with his artificial legs someday that he would be glad to take another assignment into the war zone.
PFC Wallace received assorted life-threatening injuries when the Humvee that he was driving rolled over an improvised explosive device (IED) on June 9. Three other soldiers managed to escape serious injuries.
Several weeks ago, PFC Wallace, a 2003 graduate of Thomson High School, was presented the Purple Heart. He is expected to receive the Bronze Star when he returns to Walter Reid Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. later this month. He also is expected to be promoted to the rank of sergeant and is pondering a career in the U.S. Army.
"It was an honor to have received the Purple Heart," said PFC Wallace at his grandparents' home on County Line Road in McDuffie County.
PFC Wallace, who is regarded by many as an American hero, doesn't feel that way.
"I don't think of myself as a hero," said PFC Wallace. "I just don't think I did anything or enough to be called a hero. I was just doing my job as an infantry soldier. In the Army, we are taught to be strong and to never give up and shoot good."
Family members and others beg to differ.
"Darryl is a hero," said his wife, Tiffany. "He doesn't realize it. He feels like he was just doing his job. He went over there and put his life on the line for all of us."
The soldier's grandparents, Gene and Edna Wallace, couldn't be more proud of their grandson and thank God everyday for allowing him to have survived his injuries. They also are elated that he recently was granted a 30-day medical leave to come home.
"It's God-sent," said Mr. Wallace. "It's something you can't thank God enough for."
His wife agreed.
"It's a blessing in disguise," said Mrs. Wallace. "God has been so good to him and us as a family."
Next week, PFC Wallace and his grandfather are planning to go deer hunting - a sport always enjoyed by the young soldier.
"It's going to be nice to get away from everybody and just enjoy being in the woods, waiting on the deer to come up," said PFC Wallace prior to venturing onto wooded area at Rocky Comfort Plantation, located between Warrenton and Gibson. He and his grandfather are members of the hunting club there.
PFC Wallace is an avid deer hunter and fisherman the medical leave has helped pick up his spirits.
"It's really done him a lot of good to see family members, friends and get to do some of the things he's wanted to do like deer hunting," added Mrs. Wallace.
At the same time, he's eaten well, too.
His grandmother has cooked several of her grandson's favorite dishes, including cabbage, which he "dearly loves."
PFC Wallace and his wife, and their son, Chase, plan on returning home for two weeks at Christmas. PFC Wallace hopes that instead of spending another six months in rehabilitation in Washington, D.C. he might be able to transfer to Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon.
"It would be nice to get transferred there," said PFC Wallace. "Then I could go back to living out in the country. That's what I'm used to."
In Washington, PFC Wallace is allowed to stay in a hotel with his wife and son. Daily, he goes back and forth to the hospital to undergo further rehabilitation.
Since being back home, he and his wife have purchased a new vehicle. The couple even attended their first-ever college football game at the University of Georgia in Athens last Saturday.
"I love the Georgia Bulldogs," said PFC Wallace, noting he used to play football with fro UGA linebacker Danny Verdun-Wheeler at Thomson Middle School.