Marine Sergeant Dan Sidles, son of Ron and the late Diane (Funderburg) was born January 16, 1982 in Emmetsburg, Iowa. He attended grade school in Graettinger, and he was a 2000 graduate of Emmetsburg High School. During high school, Dan excelled at football and wrestling. After a year of junior college, and just before the September 11, 2001 attacks, he enlisted into the United States Marine Corps. Dan graduated boot camp as the Platoon Honor Man, and he continued to the School of Infantry to become a machine gunner.
As a team member of the 2003 invasion of Southern Iraq, Dan pushed as far north as Nasiriyah. He returned home in the summer of 2003 and was redeployed to Fallujah in March of 2004 for Operation Vigilant Resolve – the first Battle of Fallujah.
During his service, he was meritoriously promoted in the field; he was given a Certificate of Commendation for expertly prosecuting enemy targets during multiple engagements with enemy forces in and around Fallujah, and he was awarded the Purple Heart. The best-selling book, No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle of Fallujah, was written about Dan’s battalion. After returning home to the United States, Dan served his last year with the Marine Corps as an instructor in the Marksmanship Training Unit.
Dan participated in World T.E.A.M. Sports’ Soldiers to the Summit expedition in 2010. It was an opportunity to climb Mount Everest along with 10 other wounded veterans as the movie “HIGH GROUND” was filmed. As a result of this, Dan found a new love. Climbing mountains brought back that rush of life he was so eager to rekindle. Dan enjoyed working out, playing guitar, watching movies and of course, climbing mountains.
On April 26, 2016, Sgt Dan Sidles passed from this life. He was 34 years old.
Following a year of community college, he followed his older brother into the Marines. Shortly before the September 11, 2001 attacks, Dan was sent to boot camp, where he graduated as the Platoon Honorman, and then he continued to the School of Infantry to become a machine gunner.
During his deployment from 2003 to 2004, Dan Sidles’ suffered a TBI, PTSD, two herniated disks and shrapnel to the face, head, and torso. He was badly wounded twice while serving and earned a Purple Heart.
“My recovery has been a nightmare at times,” Dan said in an interview with World T.E.A.M. Sports in 2010. “The war is not fought over there, it’s fought when you get back. I really don’t have too many people in my life. I’ve burned a lot of bridges. I keep mainly to myself.”
In October 2010, Dan Sidles was part of a mountaineering expedition in Nepal led by blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer (co-founder of NoBarriers). The 2012 documentary “High Ground” by emmy-winning director Michael Brown follows 11 combat veterans, including Dan, as they return from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. These men and women, representing all four branches of the military, set out to climb the 20,075 peak of Lobuche East, just 8.7 miles from Mount Everest. The documentary revealed the true story of the soldiersʼ difficult road to recovery as they faced a return to civilian life, a challenge that Dan often spoke about with friends.
Before heading on the expedition in 2010 Dan said, “This opportunity to go to Nepal seems to be too good to be true. I have not climbed, but I am excited to learn and to get a rush out of life again. I am looking forward to this new experience.”
“Dan did his best to find peace and fulfillment in the mountains, on glaciers, on rock or on ice,” High Ground (Michael Brown from Serac Films) commented on Facebook following the news of his death, “Everyone who met Dan was touched by him in some way and his smile and laughter were a joy to experience. We are grateful to have been able to share his story, and those who climbed with him will always hold him close to their hearts. Fair winds and following seas, Dan. May the trails ahead be clear and offer sure footing.”