Calexico, CA- Sergeant Odin Ayala was honored by the City of Calexico with a proclamation for his courage and exemplary service while serving in the United States Army.
"He is a true American hero and we are very proud of him and we are very proud that he's from Calexico," says Councilman John Moreno.
27- year-old Ayala, a Calexico High school graduate class of 2003 and former star football player was wounded in Afghanistan in September 2011.
He lost both of his legs at the knee and has trouble with hand stiffness.
"I remember hearing a click and the next thing my sight and my hearing went out," says Sergeant Ayala.
Sergeant Ayala says he stepped on an improvised explosive device that was set up by Al Qaeda.
"I never thought that it would happen to me and I didn't mind taking the lead for my team. I'd rather it have happen to me then my soldiers. They were really young. A lot of them were 18 or 19 years old," says Sergeant Ayala.
Currently Sergeant Ayala is rehabbing at a Naval hospital in San Diego and is recovering much faster than doctors expected. He just received prosthetic legs and expects to be walking in about 2 months. As for his hands he will have to under go a couple more surgeries.
"I like being on my own, I like doing things by myself and that's one of my big motivations. I have also the support of my family and friends which helps me too, but I think the main thing is I want to be independent again," says Sergeant Ayala.
Sergeant Ayala will be medically retired by the army but says he has many things to look forward too. He's finishing up his college degree, he has intentions to work, and would like to start a family one day. He also says he would like to get back into sports.
"My old football coach Bill Cunningham lives in San Diego and he's a sprint coach out there. Once I get my running legs going, I'm going to train with him and hopefully start competing in a year or so," says Sergeant Ayala.
Councilman John Moreno was vice principal of Calexico High School when Alaya attended.
"He was an outstanding football player, quarter back and outstanding defensive back. He was named MVP of the year and this year he will be honored in the Imperial Valley Football Coaches association," says Councilman Moreno.
"One of my greatest moments in Calexico was when we finally beat central after 22 years and we put Richard Gonzales on our shoulders and carried him off the field," says Sergeant Ayala.
Sergeant Ayala says he is very honored by the recognition.
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