Army Capt. Luis Avila was severely wounded by an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, but even the loss of much of his voice doesn’t stop him from singing “God Bless America,” or prevent President Donald Trump from joining in.
Before we get to the scene, a few words about Capt. Avila. His is one of those amazing stories our military seems to produce with shocking regularity. Avila served four years in the enlisted ranks, before attending OCS and his swearing-in as a 2nd Lt. in 2004. In all, he served five combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A few years ago, I was privileged enough to attend one of Sheldon Adelson’s many Salute Our Troops events for wounded warriors in Las Vegas. Virtually every soldier/marine/airman I spoke with that weekend… well, their story always started off the same: “The day I got blown up…” Avila’s story is no different.
He was leading a search and rescue mission in Afghanistan near the Pakistan tribal regions eight years ago, when a 600-pound IED blew up directly under his vehicle. Three soldiers were killed, and by all rights, Avila probably should have been dead, too. Avail’s injuries cost him his left leg, put him in a coma for nearly six weeks, he suffered two strokes and two heart attacks, and oxygen deprivation left him mostly paralyzed. The Gary Sinise Foundation reports that “although the doctors felt he would not recover, his wife Claudia and three sons stayed by his side.” They’re together still at his specially-adapted smart home.
As I mentioned before, Avila also lost the use of much of his voice — but not his love of music, or his desire to sing. And that brings us to the present day, when Avila was invited to perform at a ceremony honoring incoming Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Mark Milley. It was there that President Trump joined in on the second verse.
Here’s the video. It comes with a three-hanky warning.
The kicker? This whole scene actually took place late last month, but somehow failed to generate the buzz of, say, an all-too-famous promotional picture of Barack Obama riding in Rosa Parks’ seat all by himself. As I’m writing this at oh-dark-thirty on Thursday morning, the YouTube video doesn’t even have 6,000 views.
Let’s change that, shall we? I don’t know if it would matter to Capt. Avila or to President Trump, but it would sure make me feel better if that video went viral.