Gasparilla is just a week away and this year the parade will be led by an American hero.
U.S. Navy Lt. Ramesh Haytasingh will be the “Community Hero” for the 2017 Seminole Hard Rock Gasparilla Pirate Fest and the Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates.
Haytasingh is a Special Operator with the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. During his 19 years of service, he has had eight combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
We got a chance to interview Lt. Haytasingh about the honor and in true American war hero fashion, he greeted us with nothing but humility.
"I don't know why I wake up every day and that I get to breathe another breath. But I do know that I am here and I am going to make every day count," says Lt. Haytasingh.
Despite seeing his share of battle wounds during those deployments, it was a jet skiing accident in 2013 that deeply affected his life. He sustained a broken neck as well as several other injuries. A dozen surgeries later and more than two and a half years later, he took the opportunity to compete in the Department of Defense Warrior Games. He joined the USSOCOM team in June 2016 in rifle, archery, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball.
Lt. Haytasingh has two children, Ayden, 9, and Elijag, 8, but over the years they have had several teenagers they have called their own… in one way or another, as Lt. Haytasingh continues to serve his community like he did his country.
Important to point out here, Lt. Haytasingh is still active duty. He now works at USSOCOM at MacDill AFB. Despite everything that has happened to him…here’s what he has to say about life. A mantra we could all learn from.
“I don’t have bad days. Just good and great days,” says Lt. Haytasingh.