Wounded Warriors Take Flight

Ex-fighter pilots join program to help injured vets recover.

ByABC News
May 15, 2010, 6:35 PM

May 16, 2010— -- Maj. Lisa Maddox is a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, but nothing could have prepared her for the thrill ride she took in the sky above Frederick, Md., last Wednesday.

"It was phenomenal," she said, "To just be sitting in the plane and realize that you could reach out and touch another plane, it's just so cool."

Maddox was one of a handful of injured veterans to take part in a new partnership between the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that seeks to help this generation of injured service members, and Vandy-1, an elite team of former fighter pilots, who put on some of the flashiest air shows in the country.

Maddox, who is a now a doctor at the Veterans Administration, lost her leg to a debilitating nerve injury several years ago. Since then, the 1989 West Point graduate says she has "good days and bad days."

"You get frustrated sometimes when you can't, you know, it takes you extra effort to do certain things," she said. "You always hear the phrase, 'you can do anything you want,' but it depends on the amount of effort that you have to put in to it, and sometimes you just don't feel like doing it."

Army Sgt. Neil Duncan can relate. In December 2005, just two months shy of ending his tour, Duncan was on patrol in Afghanistan when his convoy hit a roadside bomb.

"We rolled over an IED that was in this trail, and detonated directly underneath me," he said, "It kind of sheared the truck, and pushed the dashboard up, hit me in the jaw, knocked out all my teeth and damaged my legs, obviously beyond repair.

After countless surgeries and two years of therapy and recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Duncan said he is now more active than he was before the attack. He skies, runs, sails and even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

"I can provide the will and the strength, but there has to be opportunity," Duncan said.