An Amputee's Long Walk Back to Flight Duty

Illinois Army National Guard Maj. Tammy Duckworth

hide captionIllinois Army National Guard Maj. Tammy Duckworth receives treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., in December 2004.

Master Sgt. Bob Haskell/Courtesy U.S. Army

In November 2004, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter Maj. Tammy Duckworth was piloting in Iraq. The grenade struck right near Duckworth's legs; both had to be amputated.

Senate Testimony

On March 17, 2005, Maj. Tammy Duckworth testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs about the concerns of troops wounded in Iraq. Many fear a decline in their medical care once they leave the military.

Listen: <b>Hear Maj. Duckworth's Testimony</b>

In civilian life, Duckworth manages programs for Rotary International and travels to Asia and around the world. When she joined the Illinois National Guard, she signed up to be a pilot because, she says, that's where a woman had the best chance to go into combat.

Despite her injury, Duckworth says she's determined to fly again.

"From the time I woke up, I knew I wanted to fly again," Duckworth says. "I knew I wanted to serve, finish my time in the military as a National Guardsman. And then also to get back in the cockpit. I want the decision to not fly or not serve to be mine and not the decision of the guy who fired the RPG at me."

But first she has to learn how to walk. NPR's Joseph Shapiro joined Duckworth in February as she took her first steps on her new prosthetic legs.



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