Video: Different time brings warm reception for vet

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 1/22/2007 7:52:33 PM ET 2007-01-23T00:52:33

After a year and a half of medical treatment, Dan McKinney is back on his feet and very lucky to be alive.

The 55-year-old McKinney was badly injured in Iraq after being called up by the Army Reserves.

While training Iraqi police officers, he took a lunch break just as a suicide bomber struck.

"I glanced up, glanced back down to my food, and the bomb went off," remembers McKinney.

The lunchroom was obliterated. Two Americans were killed and four seriously injured. McKinney suffered a severe abdominal wound and worried about whether he could ever return to his civilian job as an officer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Miami.

"I looked at this man, and said, 'Boy, I mean, he's in tough shape,'" recalls McKinney's boss, Tom Winkowski.

To Winkowski, the injures didn't matter, and he assured McKinney he would always have his job back home.

"I felt he needed to know that," says Winkowski. "I felt he needed to know we had not forgotten him, that we stood next to him."

That was a huge relief. McKinney could now concentrate on his physical recovery.

"The support that he showed from Day One was absolutely incredible," says McKinney. "Far, far beyond anything I ever imagined."

And a far cry from what McKinney experienced 37 years ago when he returned home wounded from service in Vietnam.

"People [were] literally screaming obscenities at me in the lobby of Dallas' Love Field because I was in the Army," says McKinney.

Now he's been flooded with get-well cards.

"It's overwhelming," he says. "It'll make you tear up and go through all those emotions that you don't want to admit that you have."

On Monday, Dan McKinney finally returned to work — a wounded vet from two wars, this time enjoying full support.

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