A Patriot's Promise: Protecting My Brothers, Fighting for My Life, and Keeping My word
By Israel "DT" Del Toro, U.S. Air Force, Senior Master Sergeant (Ret.)
St. Martin's Press; 288 pages, includes one 16-page color insert; hardcover, $28.99; EBook, $14.99
"You bravely answered the call to defend our country in the United States Air Force. You showed us that a warrior's heart transcends even the worst of wounds. You're incredible. You didn't let it change you. We've seen it again and again: you bring joy, you bring hope, you bring inspiration to everyone you meet." - President Joe Biden
"He found a way not just to survive against the odds, but to thrive. He is a study in strength, tenacity, bravery, and service. He is a damn miracle." - Jon Stewart, former host of "The Daily Show." and current host of Apple TV+'s "The Problem with Jon Stewart."
"DT has an amazing story of courage and perseverance. He is truly inspiring, and he clearly never gives up. A true inspiration." - Jay Glazer, FOX Sports, NFL Insider for "FOX NFL Sunday."
"Del Toro is a man of uncommon courage, and a patriot of the highest order...When I painted you a few years ago, I tried to capture your hopeful, joyful, unconquerable soul on the canvass. You're an inspiration to us all, and I was honored to serve as your Commander in Chief." - President George W. Bush
These are just a few of the tributes to Israel Del Toro, Jr., who served as a Senior Master Sergeant of the Air Force. In Afghanistan, he was a Special Ops paratrooper, and he was injured in action in 2005 in a mission targeting a high-value target in the southeast corner of the country, neat a valley ticked into the mountains of Zabul. His long recovery included adaptive sports as well as advocacy for his fellow wounded warriors. Del Toro was instrumental in the creation of the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program.
Senior Master Sgt. Del Toro became the first completely disabled Airman to re-enlist in the Air Force, and he is the recipient of the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the Pat Tillman Award for Courage at the ESPYs.
In his inspiring memoir, A Patriot's Promise, Del Toro tells the story of his ordeal for the first time. This is a story about overcoming roadblocks throughout his life, up to the courage he showed to overcome horrific obstacles from war.
Del Toro lost his father when he was just 12 years old, so he became the man of the house. When a high school guidance counselor advised him to concentrate on going to a local junior college, the determined teen earned a scholarship to the University of Illinois.
Just as it looked like his young life was taking shape, his mother died unexpectedly. Now, Del Toro had to embrace the promise he made to his father to take care of his younger siblings. He walked away from his dream of attending college and returned home to care for his family.
As his siblings grew up and with family members close by, Del Toro made the tough decision to enlist in the Air Force. His skills were a natural fit and his superior officers saw he had natural leadership qualities. Though he was recently married with a baby boy, he was sent to Afghanistan. His strength and perseverance made his fellow cadets gravitate to him.
On December 5, 2005, Del Toro's life changed forever when, in the process of returning to his base, the Humvee he was in ran over an IED. The fire and explosion that resulted burned him over 80 percent of his body. He survived, and was transported back to a hospital in the United States.
For the next four months, Del Toro lay in a coma, and on three separate occasions, his devoted wife, Carmen, was called to his side as doctors feared he would not make it through the night. When he was told he would need to spend 18 months in the hospital, he was so determined to return home that he was released only two months into his stay.
Del Toro still needed daily care from his wife, and his greatest fear remained, that his three-year-old son, Guero, would be frightened by his physical appearance. When they met after months of separation, the young boy ran into his arms, as all he wanted was his Dad back.
The incredible story of his recovery inspired other wounded troops, and eventually, Del Toro became an advocate for others in the Burn Unit and those badly injured. He speaks at numerous organizations and foundations, and counts among his numerous friends former President George W. Bush, Gary Sinise, and Jon Stewart.
Gary Sinise, an actor, musician, and founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation, wrote of Del Toro, "Years ago, while signing autographs after a concert with my band in support of our wounded service members at the Road to Recovery Conference in Orlando, Florida, for the Coalition to Salute America, I looked up, and standing there was Israel Del Toro. I had never met anyone with such severe burns before, and I can remember distinctly the impression he made on me. I thought how painful his injuried must be for him. Yet his resilient personality and never-quit attitude were shining through. I remember him cracking jokes about Lt. Dan (from Forrest Gump). In the years to follow, I have watched as his amazing spirit and perseverance went on to inspire others in countless ways. His road to recovery story has truly been remarkable and now he tells that story in his beautiful new book. I have no doubt you will be inspired and moved."
Del Toro has set records and won medals at The Warrior Games and The Invictus Games, a competition created by Prince Harry for wounded servicemen, and won the Pat Tillman Courage Award at the ESPYs. That only built up to his biggest accomplishment - in February 2010, when he became the first completely disabled airman ever to re-enlist in the Air Force and become an instructor.
Officially retired from the Air Force, Del Toro still encourages troops and others dealing with major setbacks in their lives. He advocates for awareness and change in public policy for wounded, injured, and ill soldiers. The thing that is most important to him is that he kept his promise to his Dad to "take care of your brothers and sisters," which now extends to his immediate family and his family in uniform.
Ed Mylett, a global speaker, world-class entrepreneur, bestselling author, life and business strategist, and a top-rated podcaster who is also on YouTube and Instagram, writes of Del Toro in the introduction, Meet This Hero:
"Very few people leave me speechless, but when I met Israel Del Toro - 'DT,' I found myself completely without words. He is the most unforgettable person I have ever met, a hero among heroes. One thing that makes him so special is the fact that he doesn't know that he is. DT didn't even want us to use the word 'hero' in the title of this book...
This man encompasses the truest meaning of some of the most powerful words: Heart. Courage. Love. Honor.
Humans are capable of heroic acts they cannot imagine, but not everyone is willing to be that hero. Everyone can turn their lives around, but not everyone is willing to be so disciplined to keep after it day after day, month after month, year after year - and then to become an advocate for others beginning the journey. Maybe everyone can do what DT has done, but not everyone would have. DT is one of the most resilient among us, and the most resilient can indeed change the world.
He went into the military because he wanted to be able to someday say to his grandchildren, 'Let me tell you my story.' Oh, I guarantee his great-grandchildren will hear this story. Two hundred years from now, people will be telling the story of this man. There is a pride in his family - and in our nation - for generations to come. I believe this man is on the precipice of becoming one of the greatest forces for good and change on the planet.
DT's story gives us this perspective: our dreams - and our tragedies - show up in ways we never pictured them, and the ripple effects of our lives have an impact in ways we cannot imagine. Who you're becoming and what you've done will impact far more than you know. You can change your family tree in your quiet way, and the difficulty you're going through is the very thing that will build your legend and your legacy. If you've ever wondered if you have what it takes, read DT's story for motivation, inspiration, and a dose of perspective.
Millions of people will read this book, hear this story, and nod their heads in agreement about this man, Israel Del Toro, Jr., senior master sergeant of the United States Air Force, the man who changed the world. In this book, he will finally tell his whole story, but I wanted to brag about him for just a moment before you dive in.
DT, we are proud of you and thankful for you. You did what your dad told you to do, brother. You've taken care of your family. Your impact reaches further than you know. Give yourself some daggum credit."