FARMINGTON — A local war veteran who was inspired by Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's heroics during "The Miracle on the Hudson" four years ago said he reflected on the pilot's actions while driving Army vehicles in combat zones.

The soldier's story will be one of several segments on The Katie Couric show at 2 p.m. today. Couric's show is dedicated to the pilot and survivors of the airplane water landing four years ago today, on Jan. 15, 2009.

Damian Jaquez, 37, is a retired military veteran who served in the Army, Army Reserves and National Guard from 1995 to 2011. He was born and raised in Aztec and moved to Sundown, Texas, in September to work for Chevron. His final military missions were to drive armored vehicles in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria from June 2008 to February 2010, he said.

During that time Jaquez became the Army's only armored vehicle driver who traveled more than 30,000 miles in combat zones without being in a crash or explosion, he said.

Jaquez said he etched the word "Sully" on the gloves he wore during many of the those missions.

"He inspired me because he didn't have guns, super powers or any Super Bowl rings," Jaquez said. "The man did something on his own. His heart, gut and mind got him through that."

Shortly after taking off from New York's LaGuardia Airport four years ago, Sullenberger, the pilot, reported the plane hit a large flock of birds which broke both engines.


Sullenberger successfully ditched the plane in the Hudson River and all 155 people on board survived.

Jaquez was interviewed about Sullenberger for today's episode and met the pilot.

Branda Parker, Jaquez's sister and the director of the San Juan Center for Independence, said her brother has always had respect for "everyday heroes."

"The attitude my brother always had was: All of us over here (in America) are the real heroes because we have to live everyday lives, pay bills and raise families," she said.