Monday, July 14, 2008

Navy Petty Officer Daniel R. Verbeke

Remember Our Heroes

Philadelphia Enquirer -- Daniel R. Verbeke, 25, of Exton, a Navy petty officer, died Monday at Paoli Hospital of complications from injuries suffered in December 2005 during combat operations in Iraq.

Mr. Verbeke was part of the landing crew aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. Planes from the ship were supporting combat troops in Iraq.

Mr. Verbeke was left a quadriplegic after being injured when he was hit by a piece of equipment while trying to repair a cable on the flight deck. He suffered traumatic brain injury, a collapsed lung, fractured vertebrae and fractured ribs. He was initially comatose, said his father, Robert, but after months of intensive therapy he was able to go home in early June.

He learned to vocalize basic words and make his feelings known, his father said. He recently said, "I love you," on the phone to his mother and sister.

He enjoyed visits from his former shipmates and listening to hip-hop and classic rock. An avid Phillies fan, he became upset when anyone blocked his view while he was watching a game, his father said. He was looking forward to the Phillies-Atlanta Braves game July 27, the first game he would have attended since his injury, his father said.

Mr. Verbeke was initially treated at military hospitals in Kuwait, Iraq, Germany and Betheseda, Md., and then was a patient at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, Va. He made notable progress in his recovery after he was moved to Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital in June 2006, his father said.

Born in Arlington Heights, Ill., Mr. Verbeke grew up in Chester County, where he played baseball for the Lionville Youth Association and participated in junior bowling leagues. He graduated from Owen J. Roberts High School near Pottstown. In 2004 he joined the Navy and had been aboard the Theodore Roosevelt for 15 months when he was injured.

In addition to his father, Mr. Verbeke is survived by a daughter, Savanna Jones; his mother, Melanie North; stepmother, Katherine Verbeke; sister Sarah Verbeke-O'Neill; and grandparents Ann North and Leonard and Barbara Verbeke.

Friends may call from 6 to 9 p.m. today and from 9 to 10:45 a.m. tomorrow followed by a funeral at 11 a.m. at Logan Funeral Home, 698 E. Lincoln Highway, Exton. Burial will be in Philadelphia Memorial Park, Frazer.

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