View Full Version : Disabled Vets honored at Yankee Stadium

08-30-03, 07:10 AM
Disabled Vets honored at Yankee Stadium
Submitted by: New York Public Affairs
Story Identification Number: 2003828143858
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Tim McGough

NEW YORK(August 28, 2003) -- Honor, Courage and Commitment are one of the many mottos of the Marine Corps. For Cpl. Hector Delgado and Lance Cpl. Ian Lennon those words have a very special meaning. Both Marines were severly injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Although both Marines were injured, they got up out of their hospital beds for a night with the 26-time World Champions - the New York Yankees.

The Yankees and the Disabled American Veterans Association hosted Delgado and Lennon along with other disabled veterans from World War II, Vietnam, and Desert Storm to a night of the American Pastime. However, both came a long way for a baseball game.

Delgado, a native of Selden, N.Y., was coming off a convoy outside An-Nasiriyah, Iraq on 14 April 2003, when he was injured at Camp Viper. He and his buddies were getting out of the sun under a tractor-trailer when the legs gave way and the trailer landed on top of Delgado, crushing his pelvis. The accident may have crushed his pelvis, but it didn't crush his spirit.

"I thought I was going to die at first," said Delgado. "But I was determined to stay alive. My mother taught me about determination."

After spending 25-minutes under the massive weight of the trailer, Delgado was medivaced to the hospital ship USNS Comfort. He then began what would be a long and painful trek back to the States. I went from the ship to Kuwait and then to Germany. After that, I headed back to the states and finally got to St. Charles Hospital in Long Island, he said.

It might have been a long road home, but the journey to rehabilitation is far from over. "The docs say I have to go through about a year's worth of rehab," said Delgado. "The only plans I have right now are to get well again."

On this long journey to recovery Delgado won't travel alone. "I have such great support from my family and especially my girlfriend Andrea," he said.

Andrea Davanzo has been seeing Delgado for a year and is impressed with progress since he returned from overseas. "It's unbelievable how much he's accomplished in the past few months," said Davanzo. "There's no doubt in my mind that he will walk again." Although Delgado is in a wheel chair right now he is leaving the hospital for home today.

The corporal isn't the only one with a big support group. Lance Cpl Ian Lennon who joined the Corps on 4 Nov. 2000, has all his family, friends and the Disabled American Veterans Association in his corner as well.

Lennon who served as a Motor Transportation Marine with the 5th Marine Regiment in Kuwait sustained massive burns to his body and face on 6 March 2003.

According to his mother Debbie Lennon, she is very pleased with his service to the Marine Corps and country.

"It was his decision to join the Marines," she said. "At first I wasn't too happy about it, but I don't push my kids, they are adults and have to make decisions on their own. I am so proud of him and what he did for our country and I am happy that he made it home."

Lennon a native of Lindenhurst, N.Y., is a quiet kid with a talent for fixing things. "He was always working on things," said his mother. "He'd come home with dirty hands from fixing cars. That's Ian."

Although Lennon's mother is happy her son is home, she is realistic about his injuries. "I know it is going to be a long haul for Ian," she said. "He is coming home, but has to go to Texas for more surgery and I am glad that he now has an extended family with Al Giordano and the Disabled American Veterans Association."

"The DAV is more than happy to help," said Al Giordano, membership chairman for the DAV. "As we Marines say, we take care of our own." Giordano, who served in the Corps from '82-'85, says that vets like Delgado and Lennon will always have a support network to help them.

"God forbid if someone isn't there for my children when they need it," he said. "Or me for that matter, that is why we are here for them and all disabled veterans, whether their injuries are sustained in combat or accidental."

Giordano started organizing DAV nights with the Yankees last year and was very impressed with the team's support. "The Yankees are a class organization," said Giordano. "They showed true professionalism and compassion for the disabled vets. It was first class all the way."

Before the game started nine disabled veterans marched to center field just above second base at Yankee Stadium. They received a standing ovation for their honor, courage and commitment to their service, their families and their country.

Those three words honor, courage and commitment may be one of the many mottos of the Marines, but it would take many more words to summarize what disabled veterans and all veterans have done and do for America.


New Yankees Manager, Joe Torre (center), takes time out for a picture with the disabled veterans. From left to right Al Giordano, Cpl. Hector Delgado, Ron Tears, Torre, Lance Cpl. Ian Lennon and Thomas Mazza. The vets were honored before the Yankees' game with the Chicago White Sox.
Photo by: Gunnery Sgt. Tim McGough