President Trump embraces wounded Afghanistan hero who sang God Bless America at tribute ceremony

In a touching moment on Monday, President Donald Trump embraced a wounded and wheel-chair bound veteran from Afghanistan who sang ‘God Bless America’ at a ceremony to honor the new incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

U.S. Army Captain Luis Avila sang the patriotic hymn in a ceremony filled with a 21-gun salute, a fife and drum corps, military bands, and other pomp and circumstance.

It was an emotional moment for those present, which included Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, incoming Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.

In December 2011, Avila was leading a search and rescue mission along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border when a 600-pound improvised explosive device detonated underneath his vehicle – wounding him severely and killing three others.

Avila suffered two strokes and two heart attacks, along with a severe lack of oxygen which caused anoxic brain damage – injuries that left him almost completely paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. His left leg was also amputated, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

He spent 40 days in a coma before he woke up.

He has used music therapy in his recovery and was the featured singer for the ceremony honoring Milley’s appointment and Dunford’s retirement after more than four decades in the Marine Corps.

Milley joined Trump and the others to listen to Avila sing near the conclusion of the ceremony, which happened on a rainy day at Fort Myer in Northern Virginia.

During the song, Trump bobbed his head along with the music and gave Avila his signature thumbs-up sign. When Avila finished his solo, the president and other guests of honor joined in singing another verse.

And, when the song was done, President Trump walked over to U.S. Army Captain Luis Avila, arms held out wide, to give a big bear hug to him and his wife Claudia, who appeared to be holding back tears.





The rest of his national security team also offered hugs to Avila, who appeared to give them, including the president, a challenge coin.

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