By Greg Smart
HUBER HEIGHTS — The Grand Marshal for the Star Spangled Heights Parade on Saturday was Staff Sgt. Anthony Paletta, a wounded vet, with his service dog, Aggie. He served seven years in the United States Air Force as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller before medical retirement in 2013.
Paletta, who resides in Springboro, said it was an honor to be selected as the grand marshal.
“It’s very rare that I come across an opportunity like this,” said Paletta, age 29. “Certainly foremost, I want to say thank you for the opportunity.”
Paletta, who graduated from Cincinnati Northwest High School in 2004 and enlisted in the Air Force in 2006, said he was “kind of speechless” when he was asked.
“I’ve never gotten the opportunity in order to do something like this before,” he said.
Paletta served in multiple deployments in Afghanistan (2011) and Iraq (2008), with the majority being in Afghanistan. It was in these two areas that the bulk of his injuries were sustained.
In his role as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller, Paletta said he called in air strikes. He said his injuries were the result of a series of very bad events on missions gone awry. He indicated that he suffered from post-blast injuries from rocket propelled grenades and “danger close” air strikes that resulted mainly in post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
Paletta said concerning his seven years of serve, “I loved every minute of it.”
“If it weren’t for certain events that I was placed in, or that I walked into, I guess, I’d still be in,” said Paletta. “But, life had different plans for me.”
Paletta has been aided by Aggie for the past year.
“She’s my best friend; she’s literally my left leg, is what I say because she’s always attached to my left side,” said Paletta. “She goes with me absolutely everywhere I go…”
Paletta has been a licensed skydiver the past five years and is training for a jump on July 9 in Middletown in conjunction with an event, called the Halo For Freedom Warrior Foundation (see www.warriorwtr.com). Warrior Weekend to Remember is a combination of activities meant to enrich the lives of active duty and veteran men and women injured in combat or training. At least 20 wounded warriors are expected to participate throughout the weekend. Paletta said his role will be to provide wounded warriors with information regarding service dogs and how to obtain one.
Greg Smart may be reached at 937-236-4990, ext. 2542 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.comGreg Smart may be reached at 937-236-4990, ext. 2542 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.com