Wounded Paratrooper returns to Moody AFB - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Wounded Paratrooper returns to Moody AFB

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April 30, 2003

by Mathew Palmer

VALDOSTA - A wounded soldier from Moody Air Force Base's 38th Rescue Squadron was given a hero's welcome Wednesday night as he landed in Valdosta.

Sergeant Robert Disney and his Pararescue crew took on fire in a mission in Pakistan They were flying in an HH60G Pavehawk helicopter.

The skies over the base emptied just as Disney was landing and more then thirty friends stood drenched to welcome him home. But, it was a trip that he almost didn't make.

"I started to fade. I started to go out. I thought it (death) was coming," Disney said. He was recollecting his thoughts after he and his crew took on fire over Pakistan during a rescue mission. "We started getting lit up pretty good: heavy automatic fire from the ground, small arms."

Disney was sitting in the rear of the helicopter when he took a bullet to the face. Unaware that he had been shot, Disney kept firing at the enemy. "I turned around to let the others know that I had been hit and was told, 'No kidding,'" he said as he and the crowd around him chuckled.

The homecoming could be described as no less than a hero's welcome. Friends made a poster of a smiley face donned with Mickey Mouse ears. Champagne was poured over his head and handshakes and hugs seemed to be endless.

It was bittersweet at the same time, though, he said. Disney witnessed the crash that took the lives of six Moody airmen in late March. "It happened right off our wing while I was right there and could do nothing about it."

But, there was something he could do on another mission. While at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, Disney met two Army Special Forces Rangers he had saved prior to his own mishap. "This is exactly what I want to do. There is nothing I'd rather be doing than what I am doing right now."

And that he plans to do but not after a short leave. He plans to take two weeks off before returning to the air, upholding his squadron's motto: So others may live.

Disney was awarded the purple heart in Washington where he was able to spend time with his mother and father.

posted at 2:10pm by mathew.palmer@walb.com