Our Mission

To provide life-changing opportunities for men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have suffered severe injuries post 9/11 and need the support of grateful communities to realize their goals and dreams.

Meet Our Sentinels

Donald “Donny” Daughenbaugh USMC, Retired

Cpl. Donny Daughenbaugh was shot in the face on October 12, 2004 . At first Donny didn’t think he was wounded that badly and continued to fight to destroy the enemy. Soon he realized his injury commanded his full attention. Determination and dedication are the heart of this Marine.

A car raced ahead of Cpl. Donny Daughenbaugh at a search checkpoint and tried to run over one of Donny’s team members. In the midst of the battle, the driver was hit by multiple gunshots but managed to pull out an AK-47 and pointed it in Donny’s direction, opening fire.  For Marine Cpl. Donny Daughenbaugh the day ended with Donny being shot in the face and medically evacuated to a surgical hospital in Baghdad. Donny was eventually transferred to the National Naval Medical Center – Bethesda, where the doctors determined that the bullet was inoperable and still remains so today. Donny still struggles today with many side effects from his injuries, but his drive and determination to thrive have helped him overcome the debilitating side effects of his injuries.

Donny was selected as the first recipient of the Gulf Coast Sentinels Scholarship in July of 2010 where he, his wife Sarah and their two children received a new home built jointly by Gulf Coast Sentinels and Operation Finally Home. Donny will always be a part of our Sentinel family, a neighbor and a friend.

Donny is currently attending San Jacinto Community College working on his Associates Degree while maintaining fulltime employment with The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes. He has been promoted to Regional Vice President – East Coast where he continues to make an impact on other Veterans. For us,  Donny, Sarah and their children will forever be a part of our Sentinel of Freedom family and we are proud of his accomplishments and commitments.

Ryan Sykes USN, Retired

In early 2008 due to an unforeseen accident Petty Officer First Class Ryan Sykes suffered a severe traumatic brain injury while serving as a Naval Special Operator in Afghanistan which left him in a wheelchair. Ryan has undergone intense treatments for his injury but remains focused on a positive and bright future and he proves to be an inspiration to many others.

Ryan completed his basic Naval training in Chicago, Illinois. Upon completion of his core military education, Ryan was stationed in Florida at the United States Southern Command and served as the Caribbean, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Colombian Navy and Marine Corps Senior Analyst, separate times of course. Ryan was then transferred to Virginia Beach and served as a Special Warfare Intelligence Analyst. His tours include; Afghanistan (5x), Iraq (2x), Colombia, and Africa. While stationed in Virginia Beach, he graduated from the High Risk S.E.R.E (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) school and the Military Free Fall Parachutist Course, to name just a few. He was also awarded the Bronze Star and several Joint Service Commendation Medals . Ryan underwent intense treatment for his injury, including four months of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. After these extensive treatments, Ryan was accepted into the Gulf Coast Sentinels Scholarship Foundation program in League City, Texas.

Ryan continues intensive physical therapy while maintaining a course of study at a nearby college. Ryan has also become a fulltime volunteer of the San Ramon Police Department, putting his military experience to work for his community.  Since his injury, Ryan has participated in several bike races, gone skydiving, white water rafting, and rock climbing. “The world doesn’t stop turning because you may be in a wheelchair”. His advice,” make every second matter.  Every passing second is your chance to grab life by the horns”. Ryan has recently taken up to 300 steps using a walker and has a new best friend named Docker, his service dog. Ryan has stated many times, it is the Gulf Coast Sentinels that showed him light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Ryan’s spirit will inspire and encourage you to never give up.

David Lewis USMC, Retired

1st Lieutenant David Lewis was blinded after he was hit by an RPG ( rocket propelled grenade) that bounced off his helmet, exploded in his face and covered him with shrapnel. His men tried to evacuate him but he refused to go until he knew every man in his unit was safe. Leadership and bravery are not learned, they are innate.

From August 2001 through February 2006 Lieutenant David Lewis served as a Marine Corps Infantry Officer where he led and coordinated the actions of 25 operational missions, 50 personnel, $250 thousand in equipment, and processed 500 detainees though two tours of duty in Iraq. David retired as a First Lieutenant and was awarded the Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with V (valor), and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with V (valor). These medals were awarded for acts of bravery and leadership during battles with Muqtada al-Sadr and Mehdi Army forces in An Najar. 1st Lieutenant David Lewis was totally blinded from an explosion while leading his men on a mission to remove members of the Republican Guard from inside a Masque in the town of Al Kut.

After many surgeries to correct his medical diagnosis of total blindness, David  remains partially blind today, but anxious to become a successful entrepreneur and an integral member of his community. After retiring from the Marine Corp, David moved on and gained Capitol Hill experience as a legislative correspondent for the Office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

When asked about the Sentinels program David had this to say: “Since officially joining the Sentinels program in 2012, the Sentinels have been an incredible blessing in my life. My experience with the Sentinels has served as a steady reminder that I am here today but by the grace of God and the generosity of others who are helping to set me on a path of success. This is knowledge that I keep with me so that as I work to lead a productive life, I’m mindful to give back and work to help the next veteran. I am so grateful for the Gulf Coast Sentinels program and all of the wonderful blessings they have provided me. I look forward to giving back to this program when able.”

Joshua Campbell US Army, Retired

While serving in Afghanistan Army Sergeant Joshua Campbell suffered severe injuries to his right leg while acting as a Medic and providing medical assistance and cover to members of his battalion. Serving with honor and valor is something that Josh knows all about.

On October 4, 2007 Army Sergeant Joshua Campbell 2nd Ranger Battalion serving in Afghanistan, was injured in a grenade explosion while providing medical assistance and protection to the wounded.  During the attack, Joshua suffered serious right leg injuries with extreme nerve damage from shrapnel as well as traumatic brain injury (TBI).

While serving in the Army, Joshua was awarded the Purple Heart, the Joint Service Commendation Medal with “V” Device, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal just to name a few.  Joshua has been described by one of his commanding officers as “a true patriot and American hero who truly cares for his fellow man. He is very bright young man with unlimited potential and he will succeed in whatever he endeavors.”

Joshua was medically discharged from the Army on October 26, 2011 and was accepted into the Gulf Coast Sentinels program in December, 2013. He is currently attending St. Thomas University in Houston and majoring in History and Psychology. His long term goals are to continue with his education achieving a Master’s Degree in History and becoming a Historian. We welcome Josh into the Sentinels program and look forward to helping him reach his personal goals.

Alexander Reyes USMC, Retired

On March 9, 2007 in an area outside of Baghdad, Army Specialist Alexander Reyes stepped down on an IED while insurgents in the area were watching his unit advance. His severe injuries to both legs and his arm have not stopped Alex from living a full life and wanting to help other severely injured Veterans. Humility, dignity and a grateful heart describe Alex’s approach to life.

The mission was to find an enemy training camp many miles from their base of operations. The road became impassable for their trucks and equipment, so the approach needed to be accomplished on foot and their equipment hand carried. When they arrived at the suspected location, the enemy was gone and the field was empty. Their orders were to proceed to the second suspected location, still on foot. The next thing Alex remembers is flying through the air wondering if he was going to live or die and then slamming into the ground wondering why he was alone. Alex believed everyone in his unit was dead, so he began saying his prayers. At some point during his prayers he realized that someone was calling his name and telling him he was going to be alright and dragged him to safety. Alex tells his story with pride for his unit, their accomplishments and service but also with humor, which speaks to his humility.

Alex began his long road of recuperation in Germany and ended up in San Antonio, Texas facing many surgeries and rehabilitation sessions. He met his physical and personal challenges with determination and faith for his future. Alex and his wife moved to League City in 2010 and he completed his Associates Degree from San Jacinto Community College in December 2013. Alex is a husband, a father of a two year old, and now a Sentinel. Welcome Alex!

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