The E-T is hosting a contest in which residents have been asked to nominate their favorite local Everyday Hero, involved in any capacity of everyday life — from healthcare workers to community volunteers to grocery store clerks and everything in between — who have made an impact on others. The overall Everyday Hero winner, to be decided by vote of E-T readers, will receive a $100 gift card.
The E-T has been spotlighting nominees, and the current one is Anthony Gray-Mandala of Stephenville.
The 29-year-old, originally from California, moved out of his parents’ home to join the Army in 2011 at the age of 20. He was stationed in Fort Hood for six years.
"I was in college before I joined the military. I felt like I was stuck at school. I wanted to do something bigger and better," Gray-Mandala said. "I love what I did. I love being in the military. It gave me a lot of skills and knowledge about life because when I joined, I was 20 so I was just out of mom and dad’s house, so doing that gave me a lot of skills to be on my own and gave me a lot of career opportunities. I joined the Army to do something bigger and better than myself, to be part of a big team and be a part of something bigger than me."
However, Gray-Mandala was injured overseas in an IED explosion. An IED, or improvised explosive device, is designed to be placed and detonated in an automobile or other vehicle. Gray-Mandala received a Purple Heart due to the incident.
Since January, Gray-Mandala has worked as a paramedic in Dublin.
"I love helping and being there for people," he said. "I'm able to help by the best of my ability and I try to make every situation turn out as best as it could for everyone involved. I love the fact of helping people and being there for them in their times of need, and even their times of not – driving around, people are waving, seeing kids smiling when you turn the lights on in the ambulance; just to make everyone feel good.
"I love the confidence that they have to call 911, to know that they don’t know who’s coming, but they trust us enough to be able to help them. I love doing that the most," he said.
Gray-Mandala and his wife, Emily, have a baby girl – 3-month-old Addaline Jean.