Giving a copy of Unshaken to my rescuers

I enjoyed a simply wonderful couple of hours on Friday (Dec. 17, 2010) with some of my rescuers from Fairfax, VA’s Virginia Task Force 1. Such an amazing experience to hand Sam Gray a copy of my and Christy’s book, Unshaken, that details our ordeal after Haiti’s earthquake and my rescue from the Hotel Montana. Sam and his colleague, Raul Perla, are key players in the book, and it was great to honor them and several others (Juan, Mark, others) who were directly involved in my rescue. These really are salt of the earth people, and I’m grateful to call them friends. Christy and I consider Sam like family, and I forgot how funny Raul was –  now I remember that he kept me laughing while they worked on rescuing me. I’ll have to add that detail in for a future printing of my book.

Some local news outlets showed up as well as a reporter from USA Today who is doing a story on people connected to the Hotel Montana (stay tuned), so the rescue team got some good press from it as well. It is sad to hear from these heroes that having someone whom they rescued return to thank them and tell their story is a rare occurrence. [NOTE: If you are ever helped or rescued by firefighters or search and rescue folks, FOLLOW UP AND SAY THANK YOU!!]

While there I read a message to them from the acknowledgements in Unshaken, which reads:

There is a fraternity of men (and women) who choose to risk their lives, day in and day out, in order to bring others to safety. Declaring firefighters and search and rescue professionals “heroes” may not be an original sentiment, but I now have such great personal appreciation for the selfless and risky work they do that my understanding of the words hero and bravery will forever be redefined. So I must begin by thanking the brave men and women of Virginia Task Force 1, the International Urban Search and Rescue team from Fairfax, Virginia, for putting their lives on the line for me and others in Haiti in January, and for doing so in other crises around the world.

I feel especially indebted to my rescuer, Sam Gray, who, after finding a crack in the rubble, said, “I can fit through that hole” and then climbed down through the elevator shaft to the bottom of a col- lapsed and unstable hotel to be with me and pull me out, embracing the danger for my sake. Because of Sam Gray, William Moreland, Mike Davis, Carlos Carrillo, George Hahn, Evan Lewis, Brian Gill- ingham, Buck Best, Eddie Thurston, Daryl Casey, Doc MacIntyre, and Teresa MacPherson [I left Raul off this list! That will soon be fixed!], I am here to tell my story today. My wife and I can confess no less than love for them, in response to the love they showed me, in the spirit of Jesus’ words in John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” May God bless all of you and your families, and may you know his peace in your lives.

Here’s the footage (below) from a local DC station, and here’s a link to some of the local news coverage.


  1. Heather George says:

    Glad to read this & see the video as well. Also glad to hear you’ll be making corrections to your acknowledgements page to add details about Raul’s special part in your rescue, especially his ability to keep you laughing. I can’t wait to read the book!

  2. Dan!

    You’re the one who returns with thanks on his lips — and that’s the kind of faith that makes us well.
    God bless you, brother….

    Keep shining so bright…

    All’s grace,

  3. Molly Piper says:

    This is excellent! Such a good reminder to say “thank you.” Thank you God for these brave men & women.