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Warrior Games bring McChord pilot, Prince Harry together

Published: 05:36PM May 17th, 2012
Warrior Games bring McChord pilot, Prince Harry together

(Courtesy photo)

Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera, left, and 1st Lt. Ryan McGuire meet Prince Harry in Washington, D.C.

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — First Lieutenant Ryan McGuire, a 4th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot, recently won five medals at the 2012 Warrior Games and is also the Air Mobility Command nominee for the 2012 Department of Defense Employee/Service Member with a Disability Award.

On top of these accomplishments, McGuire was also one of five DOD service members selected to meet the Prince of Wales May 7 at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“My coach called me out during the middle of volleyball practice, which was unlike her, and acted all giddy,” McGuire said. “She asked me if I would like to go to D.C. to meet Prince Harry and I instantly said, ‘Yes.’

“It was a really big honor. We took a tour of D.C., saw the British ambassador’s residence and met with Air Force leaders,” McGuire said. “Prince Harry met people in groups of five and he was really concerned about the British team member’s impression of the Warrior Games. He was really nice, he said he was looking into bringing the games to his own country and coming back next year, so it was cool to see how impressed he was with the games and the U.S.”

The prince, who is also an Apache helicopter pilot in the British Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry Regiment, visited the U.S. to meet the injured service members and to accept a humanitarian prize for his charity work.

For McGuire, competing in the Warrior Games was not something he thought he would be able to accomplish. In September of 2009, a rope wrapped around his leg while boating and pulled him out of the boat leading to an amputation on his right leg below the knee. After about eight months of rehabilitation, McGuire faced a medical board in August 2010, and was able to stay in the Air Force with a waiver to fly.

In May 2011, McGuire became the first amputee to complete pilot training and by October of that same year, he was the first amputee to finish C-17 qualification training.

“I definitely did not think I would be afforded all that I have done,” McGuire said. “I’ve had a lot of amazing opportunities with the Air Force. I was part of the inaugural Warrior Games in 2010 and I did not think I would be able to do it again.”

More than 200 injured, ill or wounded service members participated in the Warrior Games. The annual event, hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee, featured seven sports including: swimming, cycling, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery, shooting and track and field. The athletic events were held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

McGuire participated in track and field, swimming and volleyball. For track and field, he participated in the 1,500-meter run in which he earned a gold medal, the 200-meter run and the 400-meter relay race. In swimming, he earned a gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke event, silver medals in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle events and he also swam the 400-meter relay race. Lastly, the Air Force team earned a bronze medal in sitting volleyball.

“It is unbelievable how much the games have exploded,” McGuire, who won three medals at the 2010 Warrior Games, said. “I did it to see the athletes and to meet new athletes. The games are also good for my injury because it gives me something to compete for and it is therapeutic for me to workout toward a goal.”

McGuire has returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where he is eager to get back to work.

“I’m ready to focus on flying, I’m still really new with only 100 flying hours,” he said. “I recently did a medical evacuation mission and it was powerful for me being an injured person to see how the Air Force saves lives, so my goal is to focus on that right now.”