By Clint Davis
Dayton Daily News
OHIO -- A local couple say he's a hero -- but Larry Draughn said he was just doing what he hoped anyone would. "I didn't want to see anybody stranded on the side of that road, it wasn't safe," said Draughn, a Marine veteran who lost both his legs four years ago in Afghanistan after a roadside bomb exploded just two weeks into his deployment.
During Sunday's snow storm, he used his pickup truck to pull three unlucky drivers out of a ditch at the side of an icy stretch of Regina Drive. "It was a sheet of ice and people kept going into the ditches behind my house," Draughn, 26, said. But Draughn was sure about one thing, "I wouldn't call it heroic." Wendell Ledbetter, 77, is one of the drivers Draughn helped -- getting him out of the ditch within 10 minutes.
"People weren't slowing down and they were slipping, sliding by," Ledbetter said. That's when he said Draughn helped him out with his winch and a laugh. "I said, 'Sir, I'll get down and strap up the car for you.' He said, 'Don't worry about it, I've got metal knees, they don't get wet,'" Ledbetter recalled.
Draughn saw the trio of slide-off crashes from his backyard, where his son was sledding. He said he didn't help the drivers for "any recognition," rather he felt compelled to help them because the community has blessed him. In 2011, a group called "Home For Our Troops" built his family a new house in Fairborn. "The community did so much for me as far as building my house and making sure me and my family had everything we needed," Draughn said.
Ledbetter's wife Mildred was moved to tears by the man's thoughtfulness. "I mean, there that boy is with no legs and he's out there helping people still yet," she said. "After he's done everything a man could do in a lifetime for his country."
The act was nothing new for Draughn. When he was coming home from a recent hunting trip, he came upon a driver that had spun off the road. "I had to get down in the ditch, in about two feet of water but I was able to hook up my two strap and pull them out," Draughn said. The Ledbetters don't care what Draughn insists -- they're going to keep calling him a hero.
"He was a hero not only in Afghanistan but he continues to be one here," Mildred Ledbetter said.
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