While much of the Christian world spent Christmas surrounded by family and friends, Dan and Juanita Carlton and their four children celebrated not only Christmas, but also New Year's, Valentine's Day, and one of their daughter's birthdays in a hospital room far from their Freeport home.

In fact, Dan underwent surgery on Christmas Eve and New Year's Day.

Dan is a U.S. Army Ranger who lost his left leg in November after stepping on an IED while serving in Afghanistan. He was flown to an Army medical facility in San Antonio on Dec. 5 and has endured 13 surgeries on both legs. He is currently receiving rehabilitation there and probably will be for the next eight months as he heals, awaits his prosthetic leg, and gets help in using it.

This is not Dan's first encounter with an IED, as his left hand was injured in 2008, for which he received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Juanita said he will probably get another.

But while the honors canít undo the damage, she said her husband is really positive about the ordeal and healing quickly.

"Most people get angry when something like this happens, which leads to depression, but he has accepted it and is upbeat and awesome," Juanita said cheerily. "He knew the risk when he went. And we have seen so many people here with worse injuries and he knows he's lucky. He just wants to heal and get back to work."

Juanita and their children will remain with him until he is able to return home to Freeport.

While the Army and VA are helping the family, their church family in Freeport also wants to assist Dan, Juanita, and their four children who are ages 1 through 7 years.

On Feb. 16, a benefit car wash and bake sale will be held at the BP station in Freeport at the southwest corner of U.S. Highway 331 South and State Road 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"The public is invited to come out and get your car washed and buy some goodies to help support this courageous young soldier and his family," said Sally Orlosky, a member of their congregation at Christ the King Catholic Church, who is sponsoring the benefit.



Those unable to attend the Feb. 16 benefit may mail donations to:

Dan & Juanita Carlton

c/o James Burbach (Wounded Warrior REP)

717 Hightrail Road

Cibolo, Texas 78108.

For more information call Christ the King Catholic Church at 267-2558.