U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (KKTV) - Master Sergeant Israel Del Toro has proven time and time again anything is possible. DT, as his friends call him, made his way back to the airfield after nearly losing his life.
DT served with the Air Force for more than 20 years. After a horrific injury he defied the odds and came back to the Air Force. He was deemed the first 100 percent disabled airman to return to duty.
After seeing an air force commercial in 1997, DT decided that would be his future. His career would take him around the world.
“I’ve been assigned to North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Italy, Korea, San Antonio, here in Colorado Springs now," said DT.
In 2005 MSgt. Del Toro was in Afghanistan working as a joint terminal attack controller when his Humvee rolled over a roadside bomb. He was thrown from his vehicle, his body was engulfed in flames from head to toe. But-- through his bravery MSgt. Del Toro still managed to successfully call in his air strike coordinates.
“I always get my target”
After years of recovery he made his way back to the airfield. He went through parachute training a second time alongside cadets. DT was not going to miss the chance to jump out of a plane again.
He surpassed that goal in 2017 and went on to teach cadets and continue to jump with the wings of blue parachute team. This year he decided to take one last leap out of a plane.
“I started with a jump in my career, I’m going to end it with a jump.”
As he suited up for his final run one thought kept running through his mind.
“Man this is it. This is my last jump. This is, my military career has been, 22 years have gone through in the blink of an eye. I just can’t believe it’s going to be over.”
MSgt. Del Toro made his way to the runway one last time.
He says out of everything, he’ll miss the brotherhood the most.
"Honestly, it’s that comradely, that brotherhood I have with my teammates. I did my last controls up in the tower and as I’m coming down, you know I see cadets and teammates there and I get to the bottom of the stairs and they hosed me down. Stuff like that, I’m going to miss. That closeness."
As for the cadets he’s mentored and taught through the years, he has one piece of advice.
“I always tell them it’s like ‘When you get into a leadership role, listen because not everyone knows everything.’ You know you don’t become the best by on your own. You pick up bits and pieces from other people and that’s how you get better and always take care of your teammates.”
DT took one last step out of a plane. Thousands of feet in the air. Something he’ll cherish for the rest of his life.
An honorable, determined, inspirational hero, a legend.
DT says after his retirement he plans to spend time with his wife and son. He will also be traveling the country as a motivational speaker.