Purple heart veteran launches new life-saving mission

AZ veteran launches new life-saving mission
Posted at 6:20 AM, Aug 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-30 10:00:03-04

Honor, respect, loyalty and selfless service. They're just some of the values ingrained in local Army veteran John Soto, who received a purple hard after being hit by an IED while serving in Iraq. 

"I'm a sheepdog at heart and I feel like I need to protect the flock all the time," he said. 

Years after leaving the military Soto had a new mission. He's spearheading an all-volunteer tactical search and rescue team, based in Casa Grande, called AZ SAR-TAC. With about a dozen people already committing to the cause, he says the endeavor is restoring his "sense of purpose." 

"People want to help people," he said. 

AZ SAR-TAC already has four pilots, four planes, ATVs and a boat ready for action. Soto is in the process of obtaining the organization's 501(c)3 status and hopes to supplement law enforcement in Pinal County and across the Valley in their rescue efforts. 

"It's all about saving lives," said pilot Jack Dixon. 

The group is aiming to be deployment ready by January. Soto told ABC15 they are in need of volunteers, equipment and monetary donations.