Soldier finally returns home to be with sick son
By KOMO Staff
A week ago, 10-year-old Daniel Harris was playing when a vein in his head ruptured, causing a blood clot.
Daniel was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in critical condition. But his father David was serving in Iraq. The only news on his son was coming in rare phone calls.
"Do you know how hard it was to stand in line to wait find out if your son was still alive or not?" David Harris said. "That was probably the hardest thing I had to do."
The Red Cross sent an urgent letter to the Army asking that his dad be sent home right away. At first, the Army said no.
"I just wanted to be able to get into a car and drive and come see him, but I was more or less being held there," David Harris said. "There was no option for me to come home right away."
What made it worse, the infantryman was still on duty; often surrounded by Iraqi children.
"And seeing these kids and the whole time thinking about my son... it was hard," he said.
In explaining its initial denial of the request for David to come home to be with his son, a commander at Fort Stewart, Georgia, where Harris' unit is based, told the family the message did not indicate an emergency; the message had reportedly stated Daniel's condition as critical but stable.
"The commander of PFC Harris' unit didn't feel the situation was serious enough to release the soldier because the letter didn't indicate anything about how serious the situation was," said Fort Stewart spokesperson Kevin Larson.
But according to David's wife, the situation has been urgent from the start.
"It's always been critical because he is in a life-threatening situation," she said.
With their son on a ventilator, Cynthia and David agonized over his well-being while thousands of miles apart.
"He (David) was basically begging me to do whatever I can say, whatever I have to say to get him back," Cynthia said.
Daniel's mom contacted Senators, the KOMO 4 Problem Solvers, and the Red Cross again.
This time it worked.
"The second letter from the Red Cross more clearly indicated that this is indeed a serious situation," Larson said.
Harris said they woke him up early in the morning with the news.
"(They said) 'Hey, we just got a message through. You're going home,' " Harris said.
Harris is now by his son's side for at least two weeks. Daniel needed another surgery on Wednesday.
"The pressure was building on his brain too much and they had to actually take a piece of skull out," Harris said.
Daniel is now in a drug-induced coma. Doctors don't know how long it will take for Daniel to recover, but for now, a Soldier Dad can help in his son's fight.
David Harris is scheduled to go back to Iraq on March 26, but he is applying with the Army to stay longer.