A young man born in Chicago, raised in Puerto Rico and in Humboldt Park, became a Chicago Police officer after graduating from UIC. He spent 10 years on the force when he was called to serve his county in Afghanistan for the National Guard. Three months before he was to come home, he was in a terrible accident that occurred during battle.
Thirty-six-year-old Chicago Police Officer Pedro Antonio Medina Jr. is glad to be alive. Teaching in the rifle program at the police academy, he instructs others on how to properly handle weapons. In 2009, the national guardsman was in Afghanistan in combat when a building collapsed, crushing him, breaking his neck, arm, pelvis and foot. He was given the Bronze Star.
"Because of the break in my neck, I was told I would never walk again," said Medina.
Medina did not give up, and with a lot of hard work, by the end of that same year he took his first steps.
"It was very painful," Medina said. "Medically, I am categorized as an incomplete quadriplegic. I do have movement, but it has been impaired."
Medina is now on convalescent duty until he gets better. He has completed all of the training and eventually hopes to go on full duty back to patrol.
"Pedro is an amazing person to me," said Chicago Police officer and colleague Louis Rangel. "I see Pedro walking around. Knowing what he has gone through, I think, you know what? I need to stop complaining and whining."
Chicago Police officers visited Medina in Florida while he was recuperating. This is his 13th year in the police force. Medina wants to continue serving his country as an Illinois Army national guardsman and as a Chicago Police officer even though he lacks a complete range of motion in his hands and legs.
"Hispanics have a long history of serving their country," said Medina. "My family has a long history of serving our country. I am just continuing that legacy."
Medina says it was his deep faith and the love of his family that gave him the courage to fight back and walk again.