U.S. Department of Defense


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FROM: Leadership in Dangerous Situations : A Handbook for the Armed Forces, Emergency Services, and First Responders. Edited by Patrick J. Sweeney, Michael D. Matthews, and Paul B. Lester (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2011).


US government work


Daniel B. Cnossen was born and raised in Topeka, growing up on a small farm. He spent his childhood reading, running, playing sports, and working on the farm. Cnossen enrolled in the United States Naval Academy in 1998. He had never before seen the ocean and did not know how to swim, but he asked his new friends at the academy to teach him; he would often skip lunch to spend time in the pool. Cnossen joined the Navy triathlon team to strengthen his swimming. By his senior year, he had been elected captain of the team, which he helped lead to a national championship. After graduation, he headed to San Diego to undergo training as a Navy SEAL.

Cnossen served several tours overseas. On September 6, 2009, less than thirty-six hours on the ground in Kandahar, Afghanistan, he activated a landmine, losing both legs and suffering internal injuries. Lieutenant Cnossen is now back in the United States facing new challenges. He is doing so with the same dedication and enthusiasm that he used to surmount previous challenges. He is positive and appreciative of his friends and family, and he is happy to be alive.

Described by some as stoic, Cnossen is seen by those who know him best as soft-spoken and humble. No one as full of curiosity, zest, and humor as he is could be described as stoic. As Cnossen began his rehabilitation, he noted that now he would be able to do even more pull-ups. While at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Cnossen and other troops were visited by President Barack Obama. As the president was leaving, he noticed a copy of War and Peace on Cnossen's bedside table. The two men joked that merely lifting the book would be another form of physical therapy.