Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wounded Air Force officer to lead Gasparilla parade

TAMPA — An Air Force officer critically injured when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his helicopter in Iraq has been selected to lead this month's Gasparilla parade of pirates as grand marshal.

Master Sgt. Christian "Mack" MacKenzie is assigned to the U.S. Special Operations Command's Care Coalition at MacDill Air Force Base, where he helps serve all of the Special Operations wounded, ill and injured.

MacKenzie, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1991, was badly wounded in 2004 while on a mission in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004. An RPG hit the cockpit of his chopper and he suffered facial trauma, a brain injury and the destruction of an eye. He spent almost a year and a half in and out of the hospital enduring surgeries and rehab before returning to full active duty.

"When we announced Care Coalition would be Grand Marshal for the parade, we all agreed these folks were true heroes," said a statement from John Fontana, president of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the title sponsor of the Jan. 25 parade. "Clearly, MSgt MacKenzie exemplifies best what Care Coalition stands for. We're ecstatic he will be representing this terrific organization."

Wounded Air Force officer to lead Gasparilla parade 01/09/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 9, 2014 3:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New Port Richey police investigating shooting that left one man wounded

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A man was shot and wounded Saturday after police said he assaulted a restaurant employee.

  2. What to watch this week: 'Still Star-Crossed' on ABC, 'House of Cards' Season 5



    Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey in House of Cards Season 5.
  3. Rays call up Jose De Leon to add depth to bullpen tonight


    The Rays decided that after playing 15 innings Sunday they could use some depth and length in their bullpen after all and have decided to call up RHP Jose De Leon from Triple-A.

    RHP Erasmo Ramirez is still slated to start tonight, even after throwing 12 pitches to get the final three outs - and the save - in …

    The Rays have recalled Jose De Leon from Triple-A Durham.
  4. Trump hails the fallen and their families at Arlington


    ARLINGTON, Va. — President Donald Trump expressed his nation's "boundless and undying" gratitude Monday to Americans who have fallen in battle and to the families they left behind, hailing as heroes the hundreds of thousands buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

    President Donald Trump participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. [Photo by Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images]
  5. Tiger Woods arrested in Florida on DUI charge, released

    Public Safety

    Tiger Woods was arrested early Monday on a DUI charge in Jupiter, Florida, and spent nearly four hours in a county jail before he was released.

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a DUI charge in Florida.