Kentucky Sgt. home recovering from helicopter fall

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It's been three weeks since a training exercise went terribly wrong and sent Master Sergeant David Gentry, of the Kentucky Air National Guard, falling 60 feet from a helicopter. But, now, he's back home and he said the doctors and nurses are impressed he's recovering as quick as he is.

"I'm glad to be home that quick," said Gentry, who is finding the little things to be a big blessing.

"It was great honestly, it was nice to sleep in my own bed for a change."

But it's the little things that are also a big challenge.

"Getting out of bad, putting this thing (back brace) on, sitting up, taking a shower is pretty much an ordeal," described the survivor.

Still, he knows he's blessed because it wasn't long ago that he was flat on his back staring at a helicopter he'd just fallen out of.

"I really, honestly, don't know what happened. I just hit awful hard."

Up until that point, Gentry said that day was just another routine training day and it was something he's done nearly 200 times before in his 24 year military career.

Gentry said it's always been a rush, "It's windy, it's loud, but it's kind of fun. You know you do that initial push off and it's kind of fun, you get to the ground relatively quickly, just without doing it this way."

Gentry joked about it, but he still can't figure out just what went wrong.

"I remember seeing the ground coming awful fast. When I knew something was wrong, at the last second I guess I did think 'oh no,' that's about the only thing that came through my head," he added, "I don't know why it didn't kill me or why I'm not paralyzed at least from here down."

Gentry said his doctors explained that he was spared by an eighth of an inch, he said that's the margin between paralyzation and being able to walk.

"I am walking, yeah, I'm not 'Speedy Gonzalez' or nothing but I am walking," and he does so with a concentrated effort. He said he's still weak, but he's able to walk about 200 feet. Although he said he has to focus on each step as he's regaining his strength.

Still, for a man who's fallen that far, being able to recover in this way is a big accomplishment. For now, Gentry is expected to stay in his back brace for three months, but he said that could be reduced depending on his recovery.

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