Battling Bruin: Daniel

Posted December 2015

Daniel Sterling joined the United States Army at the young age of 17 after graduating high school. Growing up, he had always wanted to become an Army Ranger. After enlisting, Sterling attended the grueling Ranger Indoctrination Program and, at the end of the course, was selected to become a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the U.S. Army’s premier special operations unit. During his time in the Army, he was deployed four times—once to Iraq and three times to Afghanistan.

In 2010, at only 20 years old and on his third deployment, Sterling was severely injured during a night raid in Afghanistan. Like most other nights, his team’s mission was to capture an enemy leader. As the Rangers approached their obective, a firefight broke out. One of the enemy’s bodyguards hid and managed to throw a grenade that landed right at Sterling’s feet. The grenade exploded, sending molten steel shrapnel through his legs and up into his stomach.

After the explosion, two of his teammates carried Sterling to safety and then he was rushed to the hospital. In emergency surgery, he received nearly 700 stitches and staples and had three feet of his unsalvageable intestine removed. When Sterling arrived at the hospital, he had already lost a lot of blood and the blood remaining in his legs had stopped circulating. His legs were ashen white and the doctors around him were discussing how much of each leg would need to be amputated. However, one Scandinavian surgeon spent 12 hours massaging his feet and ankles in an attempt to get the blood back into Sterling’s legs. With this care and dedication, the blood eventually flowed back into his legs and they were saved. It took him six months to learn how to walk again, but now he can walk and generally run.

Sterling still has shrapnel throughout his lower body and a lot of metal imbedded in his bones. However, he made an incredible recovery and returned to Afghanistan for a fourth deployment, where he served in a temporary management position. Since Sterling had worked so hard to become a Ranger, it was difficult for him to accept this as the end of his military career, but he found a new passion in higher education.

Sterling is now 26 and attending UCLA as a political science major. UCLA was his dream school and we are overjoyed to support him as a Bruin.

About Battling Bruins » | All Battling Bruins »