Gathering of Eagles Foundation

Honored as an Eagle in:

2011

Eagle Biography

Israel Del Toro

Sgt Israel "DT" Del Toro was born on 27 April 1975, in Joliet, Illinios. In 1988, his father died of a heart attack, and a short time later his mother was killed by a drunk driver. As the oldest of four children, and just a teenager, Israel became the provider for his family. With assistance from his grandparents, he helped put his siblings through Catholic school. By the age of 22, Israel was working in an ammonia plant and believed his factory job was getting him nowhere. In 1997, with his brothers and sisters now old enough to take care of themselves, he joined the Air Force after seeing an Air Force recruiting ad and a compelling recruiter. TSgt Del Toro completed one of the Air Force's most challenging schools and became a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Apprentice. Mastering his craft, he assumed greater responsibility as a Battalion Air Liaison Trainer, instructing Air Force officers in tactics, techniques and procedures in the ground employment of air power. During this period, TSgt Del Toro deployed to Bosnia in March, 2001, and to Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. TSgt Del Toro then used his expertise to train A-10 pilots by calling in air strikes from the ground, while operating in the field with the US Army. TSgt Del Toro was next qualified as a joint terminal attack controller, and in August, 2005, saw the battlefield again as he deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. In December, while supporting Combined Task Force Bayonet with the 503d Infantry, his humvee exploded when it rolled over a buried pressure-plate mine. The explosion severed one hand, most of the fingers on his other hand, and took his face. With his body mangled and on fire, he crawled into the dirt in an effort to put out the flames, and eventually submerged himself in a nearby stream to cool his seared body. Despite massive medical trauma, and amisdst the explosions of ammunition stashed in the burning humvee, TSgt Del Toro struggled to call in airlift medics, uttering code words into half-burned radio equipment. With over 80 percent of his body burned, he spent three months in a coma and was given less than a 20 percent chance of survival. Since that day, TSgt Del Toro has fought for every bit of recovery his body has made. He has persevered through many hard days filled with surgeries, skin grafts and grueling physical therapy. Consistent with his humble attitude, he credits the love and closeness of his family, as well as the support of the Air Force, with the progress he's made thus far. For the injuries he sustained in the line of duty, the Air Force Chief of Staff presented TSgt Del Toro with the Purple Heart. Despite his severe injuries, TSgt Del Toro's heart and spirit remained those of an Air Force warrior, and on 8 February 2010, he became the first 100% disabled Airman to re-enlist in the Air Force. He is currently assigned to the 342 TRS at Lackland AFB as a TACP instructor/recruiter. TSgt Del Toro is a qualified jumpmaster and master parachutist with more than 115 jumps. He has completed Army Air Assault training, has been awarded the Air Force Command and Control Badge, and is a qualified Instructor Terminal Attack Controller. He and his wife, Carmen, live in Cibolo, Texas. They have one son, Israel.

See the Lithograph
2011
Lithograph Setting

On 4 December 2005, during a mission with the 503d Infantry, supporting Combined Task Force Bayonet in Afghanistan, TSgt Del Toro's humvee exploded when it rolled over a buried pressure-plate mine. The explosion took off his face, severed one hand and most of the fingers on the other hand, and weakened the vision in both eyes. On fire, he crawled into the dirt, and limped on his Lieutenant's arm into a nearby stream to cool his seared body. Amisdst explosions from ammo in the burning humvee, he struggled on half-burned radio equipment to utter the code words necessary to call in airlift medics. With over 80 percent of his body burned, he was given less than a 20 percent chance of survival. His magnificent strength and courage has pulled him through many hard days filled with surgeries, skin grafts and grueling physical therapy. He credits the love and closeness of his family, as well as the support of the Air Force, with the progress he's made thus far.

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