Lakenheath: Suffolk airmen’s “miracle” recovery after German shooting

TWO Suffolk-based airmen are making what doctors describe as a “miracle” recovery after suffering multiple gunshot wounds.

Senior Airman Edgar Veguilla and Staff Sergeant Kris Schneider, both based at RAF Lakenheath, were shot in an attack outside Frankfurt International Airport at the beginning of the month.

They were in Germany en route to Afghanistan.

The gunman who boarded their bus killed driver Airman 1st Class Zachary Cuddeback and RAF Lakenheath colleague Senior Airman Nicholas Alden.

Airman Veguilla and Sergeant Schneider were sent to the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Hospital and were treated by a trauma team led by Dr Kai Zacharowski, who was just about to depart on holiday when the airmen were brought in.

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“They were in very critical condition, and I felt I had to be around,” said Dr Zacharowski. “Initially, we expected the worst.

“It’s a combination of God’s grace and God giving us the ability to treat patients who are so severely sick, injured and almost dead basically. I call (them) the miracle of Frankfurt.”

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Just two weeks after the shooting, the two airmen are looking forward to getting home and enjoying “quiet time.”

“Honestly, I just want to sit down for a bit in a quiet room,” Airman Veguilla said.

Both Airmen are already talking about getting back to work and being with their team in Suffolk again.

“I’m doing fine,” Sgt Schneider said. Describing his team, he said simply: “I love them, and I can’t wait to see them.”

Airman Veguilla’s mother, Maria Soto, was at work in Texas when she learned an Air Force representative was trying to contact her.

Mrs Soto was in Germany within 36 hours of being told her son was injured - though she was unaware initially how seriously hurt he was.

Holding her son’s hand, Mrs Soto said: “He’s been given a third chance at life, because any one of those bullets could have taken him.

“I will keep encouraging him to make things better even when he wants to give up.

“With all of this, he is positive even through his frustration.”

Describing the support she has received, Sgt Schneider’s wife Amanda said: “From the very beginning, I felt very supported,” she said. “My (air force family) was fabulous with everything and kept me calm.

“Even with my England family, I wasn’t alone for a minute.”

Mrs Soto and Mrs Schneider have since developed a close bond and have taken it in turns to look after the men.

“We made sure that each of our boys had someone with them. They were never alone,” Mrs Schneider said. “We’ve had each other to lean on, get some emotions out and vent to one another. We’re family now.

“I think that’s helped everybody through this situation. (We) are ‘family for life’ because of this shared experience. I don’t think I could have gone through this alone.”

Describing her husband’s current condition, Mrs Schneider said: “His huge personality is still there. He’s been joking and being sarcastic ever since he woke up.

“He is still able to crack a joke or two, even with all the pain he is in.

“I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”

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