Most Viewed Stories
Sgt. Atwell's widow recalls special man
Yuma lost a Marine in Afghanistan this month – Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell, an electrical systems technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13. Danielle Atwell lost much more – Brad, her husband.
Danielle and Brad were still newlyweds. They met in April 2011, got engaged that September and married in November – when you know, Danielle said, you know.
“I wouldn't change this for anything, even if I could go back before I met him knowing this was going to happen,” she said. “He was that good of a man, that I would go through this whole experience again just to have the 10 months that I had.”
Atwell, 27, died on Sept. 14 when insurgents attacked Camp Bastion, his base in southwestern Afghanistan. Lt. Col Christopher “Otis” Raible, the commanding officer of Yuma's VMA-211 attack squadron, also died in the fight that destroyed six Harrier jets and badly damaged two others; VMA-211 is the only Marine Corps Harrier squadron currently in Afghanistan.
Atwell had just shy of 7 years of service in the Marine Corps and several awards to show for it, including two Good Conduct Medals. His funeral will be in Kokomo, Ind., the couple's hometown, this weekend.
Through her grief, Danielle swells with pride for her husband. He made her who she is, she said.
Through her grief, Danielle is grateful.
Atwell was a proud and dedicated Marine. With his loss, his fellow Marines have wrapped their camaraderie around his wife, a widow well before 30.
“I have just met all these people, but I know that they are here for me no matter what – and I know that's what my husband felt, that they were here for him and I understand why he loved the Marines so much,” she said.
Danielle is a nursing student at Arizona Western College. She's going to try to stay in school because that's what Brad would want.
She wants people to know that her husband was brave. Honest. Smart. He enjoyed shooting, off-roading and dreaming of a life in Alaska. He was goofy, too, but she wants them to know how hard-working he was and that they had a great life ahead.
She wants them to know, “just that he was perfect.”
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.