EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FL (CPT Thomas Cieslak) – A Green Beret who sustained a gunshot wound to his neck during a firefight in Afghanistan retired from Active Duty Military Service in a ceremony February 26 at the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) compound located in Northwest Florida.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Romulo “Romy” Camargo was shot in the neck September 16, 2008 while deployed as a member of the 7th SFG (A) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The gunshot ricocheted off Camargo’s C-3 vertebrae, paralyzing him from the neck down and placing him on a path to become a leading advocate for wounded warriors.
“I knew I had a long road ahead of me and had to make that transition from an NCO to a warrant officer when they guys started calling me “Chief” instead of Romy” said Camargo about preparing for deployment to Afghanistan in 2007. “I was always aware of what could happen every time we left the gates of our firebase” he continued.
At the time of his retirement, Camargo served over 20 years of active duty military service, beginning his time in the Special Forces with 7th Group.
“I remember walking into the company area for the first time and the very first person I met was Staff Sergeant Romy Camargo. He shook my hand, and a smile and a wink from ear to ear, he said “Welcome to Bravo Company new guy,” said Lt. Col. Raphael Rodriguez, commander of the group’s First Battalion, in a pre-taped shout-out about when he reported to the unit for the first time as a Captain.
Camargo’s retirement will help him focus on the opening of the Stay in Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center near Tampa, Florida. The recovery center will be a non-profit organization seeking to provide state-of-the-art rehabilitation and recovery to military and civilian spinal cord injury patients. Camargo was inspired to start his own recovery center after having to make numerous trips to Project Walk Orlando for his rehabilitation – a four hour round trip from his residence in Tampa, Florida. His wife, Gaby, currently serves as the director for the non-profit. Camargo credits her with being the rock in his home, always by his side and helping him through his recovery.
“I take all these things in every memory, of all my missions, all my schools, and all my deployments, then I put them into my rehab and therapies that I go to everyday” said Camargo, concluding his remarks.