Local USAF pilot released from hospital after battling COVID-19 for a month


SARATOGA SPRINGS N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Thursday, Major Paul “Tucker” Jancsy was released from Saratoga Hospital after spending 28 days battling COVID-19. He spent ten of them on a ventilator.

“The skies are blue, the sun is shining, and I’m coming home,” he said.

Dozens of his friends, family and fellow members of the 105th Airlift Wing out of Newburgh were there to surprise him and cheer him on to show their support.

Jancsy told NEWS10 ABC that after a week of not feeling well, he started having trouble breathing, and on March 26, he was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

The otherwise healthy 40-year-old Air Force pilot, who has served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, said that his faith and strength carried him through.

“I knew I was prepared to fight, but I just didn’t realize how extensive the fight would be. It was a long struggle,” said Major Jancsy.

He spent his first wedding anniversary in a negative pressure room, unable to be with his wife. The following day, on April 2, he was admitted to the ICU. Before doctors put him on a ventilator they allowed him to call his family.

“I called my dad, called my mom, and I called my wife, and I still remember the last words I said to her before they put the mask on me,” he recalled.

His mother, Debra Cogan, told NEWS10 it was a horrible feeling not being able to be there for her son.

“When he went into the ICU, they let him make a phone call to us, and he was telling us that he loved us. That was a very hard day,” said Cogan.

Then, on the night of Easter Sunday, he was showing enough improvement to be taken off the ventilator.

“The faith that helped bring me through this doesn’t let me forget the irony that it was Easter Sunday that I woke up to a chance at a second life,” said Major Jancsy.

He couldn’t say enough about the healthcare workers who never left his side.

“They do a great job, and I wouldn’t be able to walk out of here today without them. The community never lost hope in me. My friends, my family, I never lost hope in myself. It’s truly a story about coming together for hopeful, good outcomes,” said Major Jancsy.

Major Jancsy is a commercial airline pilot for Delta and serves part-time in the 105th Airlift Wing in the 137th squadrant and flies a C-17. He joined the Air Force after 9/11 and continues to do a tremendous amount of humanitarian work for the United States.

His mother told NEWS10 he’s an incredibly healthy guy, never smoked, always eats right and exercises often.

“If he didn’t have a strong heart, we don’t know if he would have ever got off the ventilator.  The doctor kept telling me he was the strongest guy he had ever known in his life,” said Cogan.

Cogan said, not only is her son her hero, but now his doctor is, too.

“He would always take the time to explain things and tell me how strong my son was, so that meant a lot,” said Cogan.

Major Jancsy said he’s feeling good, relatively speaking, and he will now be in quarantine for a period of time, but he will finally be reunited with his wife. 

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