Tribute to Aaron Mankinby Senator John Boozman
Posted on 2013-02-04
BOOZMAN. Mr. President, having served on the Rogers School
Board, I understand how important the Wall of Distinction is to the
school district and the community. This honor highlights the
accomplishments of a wide array of people who have proven their
commitment to upholding and sharing the values of Rogers.
I can't think of a better person who fits this description than Aaron Mankin.
I have known the Mankin family for much of my life. I grew up with Aaron's dad. Aaron grew up with my three daughters. Our families have a long history together.
Aaron's love for his country led him to join the Marine Corps in 2003, where he served as a combat correspondent. In 2005 he deployed to Iraq, risking his life to protect the interests of his country. I had the opportunity to visit with him during a trip to Iraq. Just a few weeks later, his life changed forever. He suffered intense burns and major lung damage when the armored vehicle he was riding in ran over a land mine in Northern Iraq. Aaron was sent to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and placed in the ICU. The damage to his lungs was so extensive that he was placed on a ventilator. He had third- degree burns on his arms and had to have his thumb and two-thirds of his index finger on his right hand amputated.
I have visited with Aaron on several occasions since his devastating injuries and heard him share his experiences. He is one of my heroes, and I am always moved personally regarding my own efforts after seeing how he has fought through his adversity.
Aaron has faced many challenges, but his contagious enthusiasm for life has opened many doors, and I am confident those opportunities will continue. Many programs have benefited Aaron along his path to recovery, and he has shown his appreciation by becoming a champion and spokesperson for UCLA's Operation Mend and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
[[Page S467]] He has a long list of accomplishments and awards, including earning the Purple Heart and the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device for Valor. In addition, he was named as one of People Magazine's Heroes of the Year and a 2011 recipient of the Veterans Leadership Award presented by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. The next year, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta invited Aaron to discuss matters affecting wounded veterans.
He has taken his pain and suffering and turned it into a model of perseverance that is helping other soldiers and veterans heal from the pain of battle.
Aaron, we are proud of your visionary leadership and all of your accomplishments. You have always maintained an optimistic attitude and a determination that can be an example to us all. We are excited to see what your future holds, and we are proud to call you a son of Rogers, Arkansas.