Wounded Warrior receives hero’s welcome to kickoff week long celebration

Lights flashed and sirens blared as police and fire vehicles from all three Downbeach communities escorted Wounded Warrior Sgt. 1st Class Angeleek Courtney to her beachfront vacation home in Longport.

Courtney, who was injured during a tour of duty in Afghanistan, was selected by Army officials as the honoree for the sixth annual Longport American Legion Post 469 Wounded Warrior Week honor.

“We try to make each year’s Wounded Warrior Week even more special than the year before, and we try to make a good first impression with the motorcade parade,” post Commander Larry Pacentrilli said. “We never tell the Wounded Warrior about the parade. It’s always a complete surprise. Last year’s turnout of local residents and schoolchildren along the parade route through Ventnor, Margate and Longport was absolutely amazing, leaving Master Sgt. Kris Parker and his wife overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from our local communities.”

Courtney was born and raised in Chicago before moving to North Carolina during her teen years but considers herself a Chicagoan, Pacentrilli said.

During her most recent overseas tour in Bagram, Afghanistan, in July 2012, Courtney was in her living quarters when a bomb exploded just outside her room, causing extensive damage and knocking her unconscious, Pacentrilli said. When she came to, she joined the effort to ascertain casualties and ensure her soldiers were accounted for. Once she was satisfied that her people were out of harm’s way, she succumbed to the severe head pain she was experiencing. She spent a week at the base hospital, where she was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, assigned to light duty and eventually returned to the United States.

Pacentrilli said she still suffers from insomnia and temporary forgetfulness, one of the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, as a result of her injury.

Along with the motorcade parade and a weeklong stay at a beachfront home in Longport, Courtney, a Purple Heart recipient, was treated to special dinners and a show in Atlantic City. There will also be a military-style ceremony and reception in her honor, Pacentrilli said.

Residents linned the parade route to show their support for American troops and provide Courtney with a warm and enthusiastic welcome, Pacentrilli said.

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