SFC Alan Hornaday & Family

From: Fordyce, AR
Age: 51
Branch of Service: U.S. Army/National Guard
Rank: Sergeant First-Class/E7
Service-Related Awards: Purple Heart, Bronze Star w/ V-device, Combat Infantry Badge, Army Achievement Medal (3), Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (5), National Defense Service Medal (2), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (3), Army Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon (2), Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/ M-device (2) and the Iraq Campaign Medal

His Story:
SFC Hornaday comes from a military family with members in the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Army National Guard. Hornaday joined the Army National Guard in 1986. He trained soldiers in Germany and Honduras and was chosen to receive the State NCO Leadership Award in 1996. Hornaday deployed to Iraq in February 2004 and was stationed in the Green Zone in Baghdad in March 2004. His oldest son was just 30 miles north in Taji.

In May 2004, Hornaday’s platoon was manning a checkpoint at the entrance to the Green Zone. Hornaday describes that morning like this:

“It was early in the morning and very busy as people were waiting to cross the 14th of July Bridge to get to work. As my men were checking IDs of the pedestrians and those in their vehicles, I was keeping watch for anything suspicious. I didn’t have long to wait. After a few minutes I noticed a small taxi driving very erratically and heading for the checkpoint. As it got closer, I could see that it was weighed down in the back. I could also see the driver. He was young, clean-shaven, and dressed in white. Within seconds, he was close enough for me to see his eyes. He had a cold, dead stare.

“Immediately, I yelled for everyone to take cover as the taxi swerved off the road and back toward the waiting vehicles. Sgt. Hessley Box was closest to me and had been checking IDs among the cars waiting for clearance. He began running through the cars to reach safety. I was also running to reach cover when I realized I had to stop the attacker. I stopped, turned around, ran back toward the taxi, and raised my gun to shoot. Sgt. Box also stopped and turned to fire. The bomb inside the car detonated before either of us could get off a round. Sgt. Box was killed in the blast. I made it to within 30 to 40 feet of the car before it exploded.

“When it detonated, I was launched about 50 yards into a blast wall. I hit the top and slid, in what seemed like slow motion, to the ground. The sand bags that had been stacked on top of the wall fell and covered me. I don’t recall losing consciousness. I was very aware of my surroundings. I could barely hear, but I heard people screaming and crying, people shooting, and things exploding as the fire burned out of control. I could also tell I was badly hurt. I didn’t feel any pain, but I couldn’t move. I tried to call for help, but it came out as a whisper. My men looked and looked for me, but couldn’t find me. Finally, someone saw my hand sticking out from under the debris that was covering me. They dug me out and had to roll the engine of the taxi off my legs.

“Once I was free, they dragged me to safety. When I was clear of danger, everyone took an injury and started doing first aid on what they could. My eardrums were burst; all of my facial bones were broken; glass and debris filled both eyes, and my left eye was badly lacerated; there was a long, deep gash along my right jaw line; something had slammed into my throat which had caused my larynx to swell and fill with fluid; both elbows were deeply lacerated, and the left elbow was fractured; both hands were badly burned, as was my face; both arms and legs had 2nd and 3rd degree burns; my right hip was dislocated, and my right quadricep was virtually gone; the damage to my right quadricep was so deep, my right femoral artery had been knicked; my right knee was terribly mangled, and my right femoral condyle and main ligament was missing; my right tibia and fibula were broken in 3 places; my left leg was also mangled – I had 4 deep tissue wounds, 1 of which exposed my shinbone; and shrapnel was embedded over my entire body from head to toe.

“It wasn’t until later that I found I suffered a closed head injury. As a result of the concussion of the blast, I have a mild TBI characterized by executive function disorder and chronic migraines. I also suffer from severe PTSD. If not for the quick action of my men, the combat medic, the ambulance that arrived so quickly to transport me to the 31 CASH in Baghdad, and the mercy and grace of God I would not be here.”

Hornaday was transferred to Walter Reed, where they worked to treat his orthopedic issues. They then transferred him to the Burn Center at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio. After 22 months of rehabilitation, he returned home to Arkansas. The Army retired him five years later and he still receives regular care at the VA Hospital for ongoing issues from his injuries.

The Hornadays’ two sons, Collin and Cory, serve full-time in the National Guard. Collin is currently training to fly Blackhawks at Fort Rucker, AL. Cory is a Blackhawk Crew Chief with his Medevac unit and completed his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2007. Their daughter, Kerbi, is considering joining the Air National Guard to learn to fly C130s.

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