Board of Dir.
Serving the Present... Remembering the Past...
events that occurred in June of 1999 (http://www.airweaassn.org/archives/morgan.htm)
with my accident in Ecuador have forever changed my life.
I first want to thank AWA, the 10th Combat Weather Squadron, the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment, Army) and the rest of the guys who have been praying as well as financially contributing to me and my family. The total money raised was over $16,000. And, I had to use every bit of that money to adapt to my new life, which included everything from relocation, to adapting my vehicle so that I could still drive, to help paying for state-of-the-art surgery. I'm now in the VA system which has taken very good care of me from medical to financial.
After my accident, the doctors said that I would never walk again and the paralysis was permanent from my waist down. I refused to believe that and immediately started looking for other answers. Six months after the accident, I returned to Ecuador to have a state of the art nerve-graph preformed less than 20 miles from where I broke my back. In fact I could see the mountain pass where my accident occurred from my hospital window. The surgery went better than expected. Out of 300 of these surgeries this doctor has preformed, he said he has never witnessed any of his patients progress so quickly. I now have full use of my hips, and can lift each knee in the air from the sitting position. I can also slightly extend my leg from the knee and through extensive physical therapy and determination, I continue to progress weekly. It was a unique experience returning to Ecuador and very rewarding. I was able to meet the missionaries that saved my life. Since I was in a slight coma after the accident, I didn't remember the accident at all. One of the men responsible for saving my life was an American Missionary who had been living in Ecuador for over 20 years with his family. They visited me on several occasions while I was in the hospital during the nerve-graph surgery. They brought me many home cooked meals which was a nice relief from the Ecuadorian food. I have been back one more time since then for some minor "tune-ups" to my back. Sometime soon I will undergo another back surgery to remove the titanium rods in my back. These rods are the only thing in the way for me to start walking. In order to balance, and have the right amount of flexibility to walk, the rods have to be removed. Once the rods are removed, I will be able to start stretching and hopefully take my first steps a month or two later with the aid of specially made boots that go just below the knee and a walker. Removing the rods should also reduce the severe pain that I undergo daily in my back and legs.
Since the accident I have remained very active. I've been competing in wheelchair sports such as basketball, handcycling and racing. I've also competed in swimming events as well. In fact in July I'll be competing in the National Wheelchair games in Cleveland, Ohio where I promise to win at least 3 medals, one being gold. I'm also training for the 2004 summer paralympic games held in Athens, Greece. I learned how to SCUBA dive and many other things such as snow skiing. I am currently trying to renew my civilian pilot license so that I can fly for a company called Challenge Air. Challenge Air performs air show events all over the country, flying children with disabilities and terminal illness. The company is already holding a flight position open for me. After my medical is approved, I will need to learn to fly with hand controls and take a check ride. All of it only consisting of about 10 flight hours. I have nearly 400 flight hours total.
I have been able to find life after near death. The first year was extremely difficult. I went from parachuting out of C-130's to riding wheelies in my wheelchair. Also because of the accident, my marriage of 7 years ended. You never know how you'll respond to such a catastrophic event, but God has given me the strength. And, He put wonderful people in my life to help me through it. In mid-December, I married the woman of my dreams. She inspires, encourages, and loves me very much.
I hope to stay in touch with the Air Force weather community as well as the special operations weather teams. I'm trying to get the resources together to do the Web site for the 10th Combat Weather Squadron. I will never forget what the Air Force and the people in it have done for me. It was a dream job and I'm very proud to have served my country in the Air Force. I will never forget when I was first injured and spent many months in the hospital in the Spinal cord injury clinic. I was surrounded by military men and woman who were now paralyzed because of the service they gave to our country. But out of all the injured there, I was the only one who was visited by my supervisors, commanders, and people I served and worked with. I was the only one there to receive money raised by not only my unit, but many units throughout the Air Force as well as the Army. Again I will never forget that and I thank all of you with all my heart. I'll make sure and keep you posted. By the way, I'm 32 years old now and I promise you that I'll run a marathon by my 40th birthday.\\
And on 22 February he wrote: It looks as if I'll be taking my first steps within a month. Physical Therapy is going much better than expected, and all the therapists are amazed at my progression. The way things are going, I'll be walking with minimum braces and crutches by summer.
The Air Force and all special operations have been so good to me with their contributions and prayers. I could have never done it with out you all. This is why I want to keep everyone updated at my amazing progression and recovery. I can't wait to walk in the doors of the surgeons who said I'll never walk again.
My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
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