Thursday, August 30, 2012

US Army Hero In Action - Ryan McIntosh

His name is Ryan McIntosh.  He's 23-years old.  Married.  Has a 16-month old son.

In this photo he's a ballboy in a tennis tournament - the 2012 US Open.  But you may notice his right leg is a C-shaped prosthesis.

Ryan grew up in Colorado as a high school track star.  He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds.  He planned to run track and play football at Graceland College (in Iowa).  But he changed his mind and enlisted in the US Army to become a soldier.  He then went off to Fort Benning, GA for basic training.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in October 2010, and two months later he lost his leg when he stepped on a land mine near Kandahar.  He and his unit were walking through the very dangerous Arghandab River Valley when he stepped on the mine which launched him 10 feet in the air.  As a result, his leg was amputated just below the knee.

Since then he has bravely moved forward with life.  His wife gave birth to their first child in April 2011!  He works for the US Army at Fort Sam Houston (in San Antonio) as the Adaptive Sports Coordinator - helping other wounded soldiers rehab and recover.

Out of 600 people who applied to be ballboys at this year's US Open, Ryan was 1 of 250 chosen.  Next year he plans to compete in the Warrior Games for wounded US Military soldiers.  And his ultimate goal is to compete in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio De Janeiro!

His physical strength and overall story are inspiring.  But Ryan says the most challenging aspect of his recovery is the psychological trauma.  Nightmares often haunt him.  And blasts, like the opening ceremony fireworks, are "gut-wrenching."

But he presses on.  Ryan says, "When I was growing up, my dad was always my coach, always right by my side.  That's what I want to do with my son."

This young man is a US Army Hero In Action!

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