An improvised explosive device changed his life forever.
And now that Darryl Wallace has officially retired with the rank of sergeant from the U.S. Army, he's trying to get back on track.
Of all of the things the wounded soldier from McDuffie County knows or has learned, he realizes that the challenges that now await him may be the toughest he's ever faced. Nevertheless, he intends to give it his best.
The same was true when the 2003 graduate of Thomson High School decided to enlist in the Army.
"I knew right then that I wanted to give my country my best," retired Sgt. Wallace said just prior to a special ceremony honoring him with the Purple Heart and Bronze Star at Fort Gordon on Nov. 24. "It's been a great privilege to have served in the Army. I'll never forget it."
It marked the second time that Sgt. Wallace has received a Purple Heart and his first time receiving the Bronze Star. Sgt. Wallace received his first Purple Heart while recovering from multiple surgeries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. While there, he also received a special visit from his commander and chief, President George Bush.
The explosion tore through his armored vehicle, leaving him critically wounded and in the hospital for months.
He lost both of his legs and also received other extensive injuries.
At the time, family and friends didn't know if he'd survive.
"I've always been a pretty determined person," Sgt. Wallace said. "I knew I had to keep fighting to survive."
The day after being bestowed the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, Sgt. Wallace attended yet another special ceremony in his honor at Fort Gordon. The ceremony was to thank him for his service to his country and to wish him well in the future as an American veteran, following his retirement.
"I had wanted to stay in the Army, but I can't be at a desk job," Sgt. Wallace told The McDuffie Mirror. "I've got to be out and about doing things."
A number of his relatives, including his wife, Tiffany, and their son, Chase, along with his grandparents, Gene and Edna Wallace, attended both ceremonies. High-ranking Army officers also attended, as did representatives from U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss' office, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson's office and other groups.
Now that he is retired but still living on base at Fort Gordon, Sgt. Wallace, an avid hunter and fisherman, is hoping he still can have a bright future.
"I'll find something to do that will make me happy," he said. "I don't know just what that might be right now, but I have faith."