His left arm and both legs were ripped from his body, his ear drums shattered. He wasn't one of the "lucky" who lose consciousness. Corporal Juan Dominguez remembers it all.
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"I woke up with a bad feeling that day, I knew something was going to happen," said Dominguez.
The 27-year-old Marine Corporal was on foot patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan assigned to a battalion from Camp Pendleton. A rifleman on the front line-safeguarding the way for others- when he stepped on a 30 pound improvised explosive device. It threw him 15 feet in the air.
"It was a Saving Private Ryan moment where everything was in slow motion. I saw dirt flying and I saw my legs. It looked like mangled raw meat. I knew at that time I was a double (amputee) but I didn't notice my arm right away. I was screaming for God to take the pain away. I was saying please if you are going to take me, take me now. If you are going to keep me on this earth, please make me numb God," Dominguez said.
Within minutes his fellow Marines found him in a cloud of smoke and they refused to let him die.
"They kept screaming at me saying this was my ticket to go home and see my daughter. They were bawling, these guys were my best friends," according to Dominguez.
A Navy corpsman kept him from bleeding to death by refusing to give him morphine, lest he go into shock.
Dominguez remembers, "my corpsman was yelling at me, I can't give you morphine, because I don't know if I will be able to bring you back if I do. Stay with me, stay with me. I just had to sit there for 18 minutes with no pain killers until they got me on the bird, basically cold turkey."
Back home in Deming, New Mexico, his mother got a knock on the door. She ran when she saw two uniformed Marines.
"She knew what they were going to say. My father had to come to the door and deal with it because she thought for sure it meant I was dead," said Dominguez.
"I couldn't stand hearing it. I flew to his bedside and haven't left him since," said Martha Dominguez.
For 16 months his mother has been there for the worst, 24 surgeries, grueling daily therapy and countless scares.
"I died five times." said Dominguez
Today, the 26-year-old is an outpatient at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
It is his new battlefield, where he is learning to adapt to new challenges as a triple amputee. His mother is getting ready to leave his side.
"I never wanted to let him see me cry, because I knew that wouldn't help him. He has a daughter who needs him. My goal was to make sure he could be independent and do things on his own. He's almost there. I will soon go home to my own bed for the first time in over a year," said his mother.
Dominguez thanked his mother by showing her what he can do and not what he can't.
He completed a Marine marathon on a hand cycle. He taught himself how to play the piano with one hand. He plays the guitar and writes music for his rock band- Fabricated Mess.
"She is a strong woman. She had to clean me, shave me, teach me. Everything she did for me as an infant because I had to learn things again, Dominguez said. I thank her by not being depressed. I wanted to die at first when I saw myself. I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep. But I couldn't do that to her. God wanted me alive for a reason, I am try to figure out what he wants me to do every day."
Dominguez believes he was spared so he could help others.
He is now a motivational speaker who reaches out to veterans with the same physical and emotional scars and has no regrets.
"My dad was a bronze star Vietnam Vet. I have known this is what I wanted to do since I was a little boy. I was prepared to die when I was deployed. I told my family I was not coming back. Now, I never look back. I'm glad it was me and not someone else. This was a proud stand I took for my country and I'm happy to do it. The Taliban didn't win, I am still here," Dominguez said.
Now he is getting a big thank you from actor and "CSI" star Gary Sinise.
The Temecula City Council has approved a proposal by Sinise to hold a fundraising concert to build a specially equipped home for Dominguez and his 9-year-old daughter.
Sinise, who portrayed a soldier in the movie "Forrest Gump" who loses his legs in Vietnam, started his charity band in 2004. His foundation has teamed up with New York-based Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation. The two are building nine homes this year for our nation's most severely wounded veterans.
"Donmiguez is a wonderful, wonderful man. This is the least we can do, it's an opportunity to honor Juan's heroism. These guys in the infantry go in knowing they are going to die. They teach me how to get through the day. They humble me," said Sinise in an interview with 10 News.
"I can't thank Gary enough. I can't wait for a house where my wheelchair can get through the bathroom door. And an elevator for a second floor. My buddies have to carry me just to get in the bathroom. I am just so happy there are Americans that appreciate the military, it feels so good." said Dominguez
Dominguez is hoping Sinise will invite him to play his guitar on stage at the benefit concert.
Tickets for the concert will go on sale at the Old Town Temecula Community Theatre box office, or by calling 866-653-8696. The concert will be at the Town Square City Plaza on March 1st.
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