Injured videographer returns home, greeted by dozens
By Senior Airman Stephen Cadette , 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 19, 2007
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A combat videographer with 30th Space Wing Public Affairs returned home Dec. 18 after being shot in the neck by a sniper in Iraq eight weeks ago.
Airman 1st Class Michael Brady, his wife, Tiffany and their children, Jordan and Mia, stepped off the plane at San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport to dozens of fellow Airmen who waited to cheer his arrival.
"We are a strong Air Force family, and we've been looking forward to welcoming Mike home," said Lt. Col. Christina Anderson, commander of the 30th Space Communications Squadron. "Throughout Mike's duty and sacrifice to support the GWOT mission, we did whatever it took to take care of his family both while he was deployed and when he was injured and subsequently recovering."
It had been nearly nine months since he deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq to perform an "in-lieu-of" tasking for the Army, providing visual information support for Soldiers. He was wounded in the neck while with the Army on near Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq on Oct. 12.
"You hear one shot echo and everyone dropped low," Airman Brady said. "It felt like someone punched me in the neck."
He received treatment in Baghdad, then Germany, and was eventually at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Pictures of him during treatment show a tracheotomy, placed in his neck to help him breathe for around two weeks.
After he was released from the hospital, Airman Brady spent time at his parents' house in Virginia.
For his injury in the line of duty, Airman Brady received the Purple Heart from Brig. Gen. Burt Field, the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, at the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad, Iraq, on Oct. 14.
"They told me in Baghdad that this was a million dollar wound (like in Forrest Gump)," he wrote in a letter to his family in the company of his fellow Airmen after receiving the medal.
The extent of Airman Brady's recovery can be heard in his voice. During on-camera interviews during his arrival at the airport, his voice sounded clear and normal.
"It didn't hit my voice-box," he said. "It missed all the vital parts. It nicked the main artery, but they sewed it up. I don't really have any problems."
With 200 Airmen deployed throughout the world, Airman Brady was one of about 120 of Vandenberg's Airmen performing "in-lieu-of" taskings, filling a variety of non-traditional combat and combat support missions to augment the Army.