First AF amputee pilot nominated for DOD disability award

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) — A Laughlin Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training graduate was one of two Airmen nominated for the 2012 Department of Defense Employee/Service Member with a Disability Award.
Capt. Ryan McGuire, with Air Mobility Command, lost his leg in a boating accident on Lake Amistad in 2009 while in pilot training here. He went on to become the first Air Force amputee to earn a pilot rating.

“Ryan’s perseverance was always inspirational for all of us,” said Col. Tom Murphy, 47th Flying Training Wing commander. “This is another example of him doing great things.”

McGuire was yanked from a boat traveling 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. His hip was dislocated, pelvis was fractured and his right foot mangled.

The then-lieutenant McGuire was eventually rescued from the lake, taken by ambulance to Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Del Rio, Texas, and 10 hours after the accident, arrived by helicopter at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Attempts by doctors to repair the foot ended in failure and much of his leg below the knee was removed.

“It was so surreal,” 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.” Determined not to lose his dream of flying, McGuire began the painful road to recovery.

“I never wanted to give up my dream,” he said.
After completing rehabilitation using prosthetics, McGuire completed the 26.2 mile Bataan Memorial Death March, earned three medals at the 2010 Warrior Games and ran the full Air Force marathon in under five hours, earning honors as the 2010 Air Education and Training Command Athlete of the Year.

After appealing to the Air Force medical continuation board, which had originally deemed him as unsuited for continued service, he received word in 2010 that he would be returning to pilot training.

“His achievements prove hard work and dedication make anything possible,” said Senior Master Sgt. Diana Gonzalez, the Air Force Evaluation and Recognitions Programs branch superintendent. “McGuire is an inspiration for others, illustrating what someone can achieve, regardless of physical disabilities.”

McGuire and Christopher Randall, with the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, will be honored at the 32nd Annual DOD Disability Award ceremony, slated for later this year. For more information on Air Force recognition program and other personnel issues, visit the myPers website at

(Courtesy of 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs.)