News>Laughlin lieutenant loses leg, returns to pilot training
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/Tech. Sgt. Samuel Bendet)
1st Lt. Ryan McGuire conquers the rock climbing wall at the Center for the Intrepid as part of his physical therapy session with therapist Alicia White (holding the safety rope) May 25, 2010, in San Antonio. The rehabilitation therapy helped the lieutenant get used to the prosthetic he received after his lower right leg was amputated following a boating mishap in Sept. 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samuel Bendet)
1st Lt. Ryan McGuire uses a bungee cord to force him to shift his weight to his prosthesis as part of his physical therapy session May 25, 2010, at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samuel Bendet)
1st Lt. Ryan McGuire (right) sprints the last leg of the 1,500m dash to take fourth place during the Warrior Games May 14, 2010, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Samuel Bendet)
by Joel Langton
47th Flying Training Wing public affairs
11/1/2010 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (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.
11/12/2010 6:17:46 AM ET Awesome job, Ryan. I was an IP at Laughlin. I would have been honored to be your IP. I'm out here training Iraqi student pilots now. I remember one day one of my students here said if he lost a limb he would rather die. He changed his mind after I showed him the girl who solo'd a plane and got her flying license with no arms. It's inspiring to know that when you have the will and desire there is no limit to what you can do. God bless you always and have fun up there. Gonzo, USAFA '89
Gonzo, Kirkuk Iraq
11/4/2010 1:14:49 PM ET Wicked Sweet, Ryan. Aim high and it will be. You are an awesome AF team mate. Hope to see you again soon. Jersey Jeanne'. -
Jersey Jeanne Goldy-Sanitate, Delaware
11/3/2010 1:44:24 PM ET Congratulations Lt McGuire I was one of the civic leaders from Keesler AFB who met you and heard your story in April of this year. I was so inspired by your story as well as the other wounded warriors. I knew in my heart that you indeed would be the first amputee student to be allowed to continue training. I am so proud of you and our leadership in the Air Force. Being an Air Force Brat myself I take pride in the fact that the Air Force leadership had the good sense to recognize your commitment courage and talent. It was an honor to meet you and your fellow wounded warriors. Thanks again for your sacrifice and service.
Vickie Rivers, Keesler AFB Civic Leaders Tour
11/3/2010 6:41:14 AM ET Lt your story is a testimony to the human spirit. I plan to share this with my Civil Air Patrol cadets to show them that if you really want something and work hard for it you can succeed. Thank you for your service and I wish you much good luck with your Air Force career
Tracy Flaviani, Robins AFB GA
11/2/2010 5:45:06 PM ET Lt you have more grit than all the sand on Oahu's beaches. I am really amazed.
SSgt Carolyn Viss, Hickam AFB Hawaii
11/2/2010 12:21:56 PM ET Way to go. Truly you are an inspiration to everyone. Keep on keeping on!
Chris D'Angelo, Malmstrom AFB
11/2/2010 11:59:01 AM ET Great to know that the Air Force continues to take care of it's people I had the pleasure of competing with the LT at the Warrior Games and yes, he inspired and encouraged all of us on the team. It's good to see him still in the fight. Hope to see you again sometime soon, LT.