“I’m not about the pass up the second chance I’ve been given," Maj. Tammy Duckworth said after surviving the explosion of a rocket propelled grenade on the helicopter she was flying in Iraq on Nov. 12, 2004.
That attitude, recounted in a 2005 issue of Stars and Stripes, helped her through six months of recovery and rehab at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In a public appearance on Veterans Day in 2005, Duckworth got a standing ovation when she said, "I, along with the rest of the soldiers at Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] would strap on our new limbs, pick up our weapons and go right back [to Iraq], if we could."
"What's important," she added, "is that each one of us gives something back for all of the gifts we have for being Americans."
Since then, she has made an unsuccessful run for the US House of Representatives, as a Democrat from Illinois, and become assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, focusing on public and intergovernmental affairs.