Anthony Radetic Hero Story
Anthony Radetic began to pursue a military career at the age of 14, with the dream of becoming a fighter pilot. He attended a military boarding school in Melbourne, FL, but, unfortunately, while he was there, he learned that his eyesight would prevent him from realizing that dream. “Being a fighter pilot was out of the question, so I decided to pursue different interests,” he said.
After graduating from Florida Air Academy, Anthony enrolled in Embry Riddle Aeronautic University in Daytona Beach, FL. Two years later, he decided he wanted to enlist in the U.S. Army and entered the service in March 2000. “I initially entered as a parachute rigger (92R) and fast-tracked to the rank of E5. Shortly after, I was selected for Special Forces and picked to become a Special Forces communication sergeant (18E).”
During this time the Army began a new program, Army Laser Surgery Program, allowing soldiers that have had photorefractive keratotomy (PRK) eye surgery partake in a special test program to attend the Army flight school. Anthony was selected for the program and was stationed in Ft. Rucker. “I was the perfect candidate,” he said. “I was promoted to WO1, completed the Army helicopter flight training and became an Army aviator (153A).”
With the new Army program, Anthony was given another chance at achieving his childhood dream. It wasn’t until years later when Anthony’s fighter pilot career was halted. On February 17, 2004, on his way home from a flight-training mission, Anthony had an accident on his motorcycle. He sustained a spinal cord injury at the C2, C3, T7 and T8 levels. He remained in critical care for 40 days.
After being stabilized, Anthony was air lifted to the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, GA, where he remained for a little over six months for treatment.
It was during his recovery when Anthony met with national service officers from Paralyzed Veterans of America, Anthony Steele and the late Chuck Izzett. “Chuck and Anthony were able to get my life in order and prepare me for the upcoming chapter,” Anthony said.
“I had a hard time adjusting during the first year after my injuries. My first biggest hurdle was adapting my home for my wheelchair; then, parting with my two sports cars and getting a more practical car that I could actually use. They helped me get all the grants necessary to do the changeover.”
Paralyzed Veterans’ national service officers laid the groundwork for Anthony’s discharge from the military. He was medically retired as U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot in 2010.
“Prior to entering the service, I was always an active kid, always on the move, and playing every sport I could get into,” Anthony said. “I had a big passion for water sports, especially windsurfing; then moved to riskier sports like skydiving—which is the biggest reason I became a parachute rigger in the Army. Now postinjury, I still try to stay as active as I can. Water sports are one of my biggest interests. I try not to be held back by anything and attempt to live life to its fullest with my loved ones right next to me all the way.”
Anthony took that spirit and traveled to his first National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Spokane, WA, in 2009. “I quickly picked up new hobbies and started life as a new person with my family and friends at my side.”
Anthony is a member of the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and is active with the Paralyzed Veterans handcycling team.