Claremont American Legion post, Rolling Thunder help wounded veteran, son reunite
Dakota Bonner, 9, of Claremont, last spent time with his dad, Robert Martin of San Antonio, Texas, in 2011. (COURTESY)
Members of the American Legion were moved by a Veteran's Day speech given by Dakota at the Legion observance this year, said Post 29 commander Sam Zannini, and so enlisted Rolling Thunder to share travel expenses to make the family reunion possible, he said.
Martin and Dakota's mother are originally from the Spokane, Wash., area. When Martin was in high school he learned he was going to be a father so he dropped out of school and joined the Job Corps and pursued his G.E.D. When he was old enough, he joined the Army.
Martin was deployed to Iraq in 2006. Eight months later in 2007 he was severely burned when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his convoy.
"The door of his vehicle jammed so he had to climb out," Bonner said. "He was in a drug-induced coma for a long time."
Eventually, Martin, who received burns to 70 percent of his body, was transferred to an Army burn unit in San Antonio, Texas, where he now lives with his mother.
"He is such a great boy, brave boy," Lescord said. "It's a very touching story."
The local veterans first offered to fly Martin to New Hampshire, but he didn't want to travel because of his condition and asked for no media coverage in Texas, Lescord said.
And the San Antonio Marriott River where they are staying gave them rooms at a discounted rate, she said.
"They are just spoiling him because it's never something Dakota gets. He never gets that time with his father so they are going to make it the most memorable trip they've ever had," Lescord said.
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