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On September 6th, 2009, Dan returned to Kandahar, Afghanistan. With less than 36 hours on the ground, his team received their first mission task targeting Taliban operatives. During the mission, Dan activated a land mine and lost both legs, and sustained traumatic internal injuries. Currently he is at the National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland where he is fighting a new battle. Like any other challenge in his life, Dan will face this one with courage and dedication. Already, friends and family have witnessed Dan’s unbelievable strength as he begins what will surely be a long and difficult recovery. Despite the challenges ahead, Dan remains positive and exudes his kindness and true appreciation for friends and family, and for life.
Although known to some as Danny boy or Danger Dan, to others as Cnoss, C-Nasty, Disco Dan, or Batta Bing, and to some just plain Dan, we all know and love Dan Cnossen as a courageous and determined leader, a strong and selfless man, and a dedicated and unconditional friend. Though he can be described as introverted and a bit stoic, Dan’s friends prefer to use the words soft spoken and humble instead. A truly genuine and loyal person, Dan is also known to have a way with words, creating laughter in the wake of his humor, and amazement from his friends and family with his curiosity and zest for life.
His life’s motto, “Life is all about extremes” plays out everyday in both his professional and personal life, and he is excited by and drawn to activities that challenge him both physically and mentally. From the moment he learned about the US Navy SEAL program, he was hooked by the pure challenge, and immediately dedicated himself to preparing for it. In his free time Dan took on many adrenaline-filled adventures: climbing Mount Machu Picchu, Peru; hiking Patagonia’s Torres del Paine, Chile; mountaineering through Samaria Gorge, Crete; free-climbing Mount Whitney, CA; skiing the back country of Mount Baker, WA; and swimming the Mediterranean and Dead Seas. Dan’s sense of adventure has also taken him to Argentina, Uruguay, Columbia, Egypt, Jordan, Guatemala, Turkey, Mexico, and Spain.
Among his local adventures, Dan loves to rock climb and run. Those who know him from the Naval Academy share memories of sneaking off the Navy yard to join Dan on these (and other) extreme excursions. Dan amazed friends when he would sign up for a 50-mile race or ultra-marathon just weeks before a race. Taking on these unbelievably difficult tasks only further exemplifies Dan’s immense mental and physical strength, and true passion for challenge, adventure, and reaching life’s absolute limits. Some people train their entire lives to accomplish what Dan would decide to do on a whim.
Dan was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas on a small farm owned by his grandfather, and spent his childhood working on the farm, reading, running, boxing and playing soccer. Upon arriving at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 1998, Dan had never seen the ocean, had never learned how to swim, and could barely make it across the pool. Dan only saw this as yet another challenge, and because he was fully dedicated to succeeding, he sought out friends to help him learn how to swim. Dan would often skip lunch and head to the pool, and immediately joined the Navy Triathlon Team to further strengthen his swimming abilities. But being a member of the team wasn’t enough. By his senior year, Dan was elected a captain, and lead the team to a national championship. Friends watched as Dan woke up at 5am every morning to run, and then return to the gym or pool for a second and even third workout everyday. Each day Dan focused tenaciously on his ultimate goal of becoming a US Navy SEAL.
Upon graduating from the US Naval Academy in 2002, Dan headed to San Diego, CA with several classmates, and immediately began fulfilling his orders to Basic Underwater Demolition and SEAL school (BUDs Class 242). He successfully completed some of the most mentally and physically rigorous training in the United States military, and succeeded in fulfilling his life-long goal. Dan was pinned as a US Navy SEAL, and reported to his SEAL Team, stationed in Coronado, CA.
As a junior officer, he served two deployments in Iraq, one to the Philippines, and supported JSOC with a deployment to Afghanistan.
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