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Patriotic Article
By Joel Langton

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Laughlin Lieutenant Loses Leg, Returns To Pilot Training
(November 5, 2010)

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1st Lt. Ryan McGuire dives into the pool to compete in the 100m freestyle where he earned the bronze medal during the Warrior Games May 12, 2010, in Colorado Springs, Colo. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel Bendet
1st Lt. Ryan McGuire dives into the pool to compete in the 100m freestyle where he earned the bronze medal during the Warrior Games May 12, 2010, in Colorado Springs, Colo. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel Bendet
  LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (11/1/2010 - AFNS) -- A lieutenant here received word Oct. 29 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 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 Air Force Base, but not in pilot training.

"When I first lost my leg, I never dreamed this day would come," Lieutenant 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, the 47th FTW 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."

Lieutenant McGuire was injured Sept. 6, 2009 when he was yanked from a boat while jetting across a lake at 40 mph. He was lifted out of the boat by a rope 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.
He was rescued from the lake and then taken by ambulance to Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Del Rio, Texas. Ten hours after the accident, he arrived by helicopter at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

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 child, Lieutenant McGuire wanted to be an Air Force pilot. His dream eventually led him to the U.S. 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. In August, he went before a medical board where he was found fit for duty. Two days later, a waiver was submitted to return him to pilot training, which was approved Oct. 29.

There are a active-duty pilots with prosthetics. Lieutenant McGuire however, 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 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 said.

By Joel Langton
47th Flying Training Wing public affairs
Copyright 2010

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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