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Duckworth, crewmates, mark her 'alive day'

By Ed O'Keefe

Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of veterans affairs, lost both legs while serving in Iraq in 2004. (Pierre Kattar/Post)

Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth and 22 former military crewmates watched as President Obama departed the White House Thursday morning on Marine One en route to Asia, according to a White House pool report.

Duckworth and her military buddies are meeting today in Washington to mark her fifth "alive day," or the fifth anniversary of the day she lost her legs during the Iraq war.

As The Eye reported in Wednesday's Post, Duckworth lost her legs on Nov. 12, 2004 when the Army Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting was attacked over Baghdad. Her co-pilot successfully landed the plane and she was pulled to safety by him and other crewmates.

Though the group normally meets in St. Louis, Duckworth will instead lead them today on a tour of the White House and U.S. Capitol.

"After all, they defended all this; they might as well see it firsthand," she told The Eye during a recent interview.

"The anniversary of my shootdown, the anniversary of the day I was gravely injured and lost my legs could be a really depressing day," Duckworth said in that interview. "It could be a day that I just stayed under the covers and cried and felt sorry for myself. Or it could be a day that I look at as, you know what? I'm alive. This is my second birthday. My buddies saved me.

"So I use it as a day to honor my buddies. It's a celebration that, you know what, each one of us struggled as hard as we could and we're here together because we stuck together. For me personally, it's a day of thanks to everyone who was there along the way to save my life," she said.

Duckworth still serves as a Major in the Illinois National Guard and is training with small aircraft to earn a new pilot's license.

By Ed O'Keefe  | November 12, 2009; 11:32 AM ET
Categories:  Administration  
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Tammy Duckworth -- now THAT'S a real American!

Posted by: isthisajoke | November 12, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

my hat is off to Tammy Duckworth. She has truly risen above disaster and has made her life meaningful and, luckily, helful to all vets (of which I am one). May she serve many years in what ever role she tends to, but I hope she'll stay with the vets long enough to get the vet admin in a cohesive order.

Posted by: janwhite30 | November 13, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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