John is based at Camp Salerno.  For years it has been known as Rocket City because of the frequent indirect fire it takes.  This photo of the west end of the camp was taken a few years ago.



This is a diagram of the east end of the camp is used by pilots.  The “Helicopter Touchdown Point” is indicated at the small green box near the center of the diagram.




I have indicated the HLZ with a red dot in the satellite photo.



This is a Chinook.  The powerful engines and rotors can lift 54,000 pounds, but it weighs only half that.



A year ago, Master Sergeant Pedro Medina ran into a building near the HLZ to take shelter from incoming mortar rounds.  To escape those same rounds, a Chinook left the HLZ and overflew that same building.


The building collapsed and Pedro was made a quadriplegic.  He could not use his arms nor his legs.  If a mosquito landed on his cheek, he had to wait for a nurse to shoo it away.  That was his life.


Then, after six weeks, he could move a finger.  Sometimes in such cases the nerves can reconnect.  Over the following months he made much progress.


At the cell phone lot of Midway Airport on a Friday, Tim arrived to welcome home a quadriplegic soldier who had miraculously recovered.



In addition to serving 17 years as a soldier, Pedro has been a Chicago cop for 11 years.


Ron has also been a cop for 11 years, after soldiering for 23 years.  This was his second PGR mission.



Tim, Ron and I eventually found our way to the “loading dock”.



We found 22 others waiting.







We moved inside.



Philip Cline joined the Chicago Police the year of the Tet Offensive.  He worked in the Narcotics Section and the Organized Crime Division.  The year of 9/11, he became Chief of Detectives.  He became Chief of Police (“Superintendent”) the year of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  After 3.5 years as head of 11 thousand LEOs – 4 years ago – he entered honorable retirement.



He was there, shaking our hands.









This is what Pedro would see as he first emerged from the sterile area.



And this was our first sight of him.






Chief Cline made sure he was wearing a CPD cover.




Dave and Brenda…



Presented Pedro with an Illinois PGR challenge coin.



His sister faced the media with him.




And then we returned to the loading dock.