He credits military training in his role in day's heroics

2011-01-11T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T11:05:51Z He credits military training in his role in day's heroicsBecky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 11, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Like many of the others injured in Saturday's shootings, retired Army National Guard Col. Bill Badger had just gone to say hello to Gabrielle Giffords.

He didn't know he would have to try to dodge a spray of bullets and help take down a gunman. Badger, 74, is recovering from a bullet graze to the back of his head.

Badger's military career included six years as commander of the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Marana before he retired in 1991.

Here is how Badger described Saturday's shooting spree:

• "I went down to meet with the congresswoman. She is a military spouse, I'm retired military, so we have some common ground there. She does good work for me as far as TRICARE (military health plan) is concerned."

• "They had lined up 12 chairs against the wall, and the chairs were full. It was roped off, so I went to the end of the line and signed in. ...

"All of a sudden, I hear bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, just one shot right after the other. My initial reaction was that somebody had thrown a bunch of firecrackers."

• "I looked over and saw a man with his arm out shooting a gun. He was starting to shoot the people sitting in chairs. Some were falling over from being shot; others were diving for the floor. I knew I was going to be in the line of fire. I went to the ground. I felt a burning sting in the back of my head, and I knew I'd been hit."

• "When the shooting stopped, I stood up, dazed. I didn't realize he was walking by right in front of me. Just as he passed me, another individual took a folding chair and hit him on the back of the head. The guy slumped forward so the chair would hit his back. His left hand came out, and I said, 'There's my opportunity.' And I grabbed his left hand and twisted it behind his back, and at the same time I took my right hand and put it between his shoulder blades and started pushing him down."

• "I credit my military background with being able to react like that."

• "We held him down for five to 10 minutes until a deputy arrived and put him in handcuffs and took him away."

• "I didn't realize all the blood that was running down my arm and over him and onto the sidewalk was coming from my head."

• "A woman (Patricia Maisch) ran into Safeway and got paper towels and put pressure on the back of my head. . . . She is an extremely brave lady. I've got all the respect for her in the world. I saw her this morning and hugged her."

• "They took me in an ambulance to St. Mary's. . . . Dr. (Julia) Brown read the MRI and said there was no bleeding inside the skull. I wanted to go home."

• "The staff was super. My shirt had been cut off for evidence, and a male nurse gave me a shirt, a U of A shirt he'd gotten for Christmas. It just made me feel really good."

• "When I got home, the phone was already ringing. People wanted information, but the deputies asked us not to talk to the news media for 24 hours to give them time to investigate."

• "I feel OK, but I'm run-down, because yesterday morning there was a car here at 3:30 in the morning to pick me up to take me down to start the interviews in time for the 7 a.m. news on the East Coast."

• "I talked to the sheriff this morning and told him if he put together a task force to study what has to be done to make sure this never happens again, I wanted to be on it."

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@azstarnet.com or 807-8012.

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