His wife Rosemarie slumped in her seat beside Walker. Donald, still buckled in his seat, said he tried to get his bearings despite the familiar clanging in his head. Later, he'd find out that the impact broke his back, legs, feet and jaw. It was later determined that her arm was broken and her intestines severed, possibly by the lap-strap seat belt common in small propeller planes.The same sensation, he said, had followed mortar explosions and IED blasts during the 13 months he'd spent in Iraq. Mckenzie had been sitting in the back row before the crash. Together, father and daughter pulled themselves back to the plane where Rosemarie was regaining consciousness.Just before takeoff Donald noticed an emergency locator beacon clipped to the pilot's sun visor.One in three fatal commuter plane/air taxi accidents in the United States happens in Alaska, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Maybe it had all happened for a reason, she told him.
The prospect of another baby left them excited and nervous.
Suddenly the decision to share a single teaching job, rather than moving to a district where they could each earn a full salary, made more sense.
"Within the first four or five hours after landing, I knew this was it," Donald said. When he arrived at Rosemarie's family party, it was with Alaska plates on his truck. After leaving the military in 2007, the couple settled in Wasilla and studied at Alaska Pacific University to be teachers. They wanted to be in rural Alaska," said Karen Ladegard, then superintendent for the Iditarod School District.
After four years in the Marines, Donald enlisted again, this time with the Army. She hired the pair to job-share a single elementary school teaching position at Anvik's two-classroom Blackwell School. They met Julia Walker, the only other teacher in the village.