By Beth Hillyer
(KHNL) - A heartwarming homecoming for a McKinley High School graduate.
After Tammy Duckworth left high school, she earned a degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, then joined the army as a helicopter pilot. But her life took a tragic turn when she lost both of her legs after insurgents shot her chopper down.
Her crewmembers thought she was dead but later realized her heart was still pumping.
Major Tammy Duckworth was in a coma for 10 days then spent over a year recovering. Now she shares her struggles with McKinley students.
Each step is a struggle with two military-issue artificial legs Tammy Duckworth makes her way to the microphone.
this local girl graduated in 1985.
"Aloha tigers it's good to be back."
She motivates the students to serve, "I thought I would talk to you about what it means to serve your country and what it means to do that."
She jokes about stupid party tricks, "The point is you have to have fun with your life."
in 2004 she lost both legs when a rocket propelled grenade exploded in the helicopter she was piloting in Iraq.
She had to learn to stand, walk and use her badly injured arm.
"My sacrifice was for this country the opportunities this country gave me. "
McKinley student Megan Casey comments, "It takes a lot of courage to go and do what she did and much less be optimistic about suffering.'
Now Duckworth works in Illinois improving health care for veterans.
JROTC Staff Sergeant Charles Pittman believes, "Veterans need a lot of help they are not getting the care they should."