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News > Laughlin lieutenant loses leg, returns to pilot training
Laughlin lieutenant loses leg, returns to pilot training

Posted 10/29/2010   Updated 10/29/2010 Email story   Print story

    


by Joel Langton
47th Flying Training Wing public affairs


10/29/2010 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A Laughlin AFB lieutenant received word Oct. 29 from the Secretary of the Air Force that he will return to pilot training at the 47th Flying Training Wing here within the next month.

1st Lt. Ryan McGuire lost a leg in a boating accident on Lake Amistad 13 months ago. Since the accident, Lieutenant McGuire has completed rehabilitation using his prosthetics, completed the Air Force Marathon and competed in The Warrior Games. Since July, 2010 he has been back on duty at Laughlin AFB, but not in pilot training.

"When I first lost my leg, I never dreamed this day would come," McGuire said. "But leadership here has supported me every step of the way, and honestly, they're the ones who gave me this dream to come back."

The 47th FTW wing commander said it was a no-brainer to support Lieutenant McGuire in his efforts. "When I first met Lieutenant McGuire, it was obvious that this young man is something special," said Col. Michael Frankel, 47th Flying Training Wing commander. "He has always had a positive attitude, I've never seen him down, never see him upset, he's always been pressing forward trying to achieve his goals. I look forward to the day when he graduates from pilot training and I can hand him a set of silver wings."

Lt. McGuire was injured Sept. 6, 2009 when he was yanked from a boat while jetting across Lake Amistad at 40 miles per hour. He was lifted out of the boat by a rope that was tied to an inner tube when the wind caught the tube, pulling him out. As a result of the accident, his hip was dislocated, his pelvis was fractured and his right foot was mangled.

The aftermath was a nightmare for many, and a challenge for Lieutenant McGuire. He was rescued from the lake and then taken by ambulance to Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Del Rio. Ten hours after the accident, he arrived by helicopter at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Initially, doctors attempted to repair the foot, but five weeks later, he lost much of his right leg below the knee.

"It was so surreal," Lieutenant McGuire said. "It probably really didn't hit home until I woke up after the surgery. I woke up after and my mom started crying. I pretty much knew then it wasn't just a bad dream."

As a small child, Lieutenant McGuire wanted to be an Air Force pilot. His dream eventually led him through the Air Force Academy.

"I never wanted to give up my dream," he said.

That burning passion led him through months of sometimes painful rehabilitation, as he relearned to walk and then run. Eventually, he went before a medical board where he was eventually found fit for duty in August. Two days later, a waiver was submitted to return him to pilot training, which was approved Oct. 29.

There are a few pilots on active duty with prosthetics; however, Lieutenant McGuire is the first student to be returned to training status.

Lieutenant McGuire said he's learned a lot through the whole ordeal but really learned the meaning of the words, Air Force family.

"I went to the Academy and such, and it was a great time and we experienced a lot of camaraderie," he said. "However, throughout this, my Air Force family, and my real family, has been by my side throughout.

The day of the accident, I had commanders at the hospital with me, helping take care of my real family and ever since, they've been in my corner helping and pushing me as needed," he added.



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