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    Marine Corps helicopter crash survivor, guest speaker at JBER



    Story by Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead 

    Alaska National Guard Public Affairs

    JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — The Alaska Air National Guard’s 210th Rescue Squadron will host a guest speaker tomorrow morning to talk to the elite Pave Hawk helicopter unit about overcoming obstacles by sharing his personal story of tragedy, loss, PTSD, alcoholism and suicidal ideations.

    Retired Marine Ryan Leighton, a former crew chief who has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, was in a UH-1Y Yankee helicopter crash while deployed to Iraq in 2012. Two Australian comrades on his aircraft died in the accident.

    Leighton spent three weeks in Walter Reed Medical Center, which was just the beginning of his recovery from the crash. He had traumatic brain injury, nerve damage and loss of feeling in his arms, speech and memory issues, a serious infection in his leg, and his spine was “more smashed than broken,” as stated in an article about him in The Atlantic by Devon Heinen (link below).

    His is a story of personal triumph and overcoming tragic circumstances that challenged him to his core mentally and physically.

    Leighton worked through excessive drinking, PTSD, massive injuries, pain, depression, and suicidal tendencies and ideations. With the love and support of his wife, a cycling coach, his service dog, and his Wounded Warrior battalion, Leighton continued in his healing process, turned to his love for running and cycling, and continued to honorably serve in the Marine Corps.

    The That Others May Live Foundation is bringing Leighton to Alaska to speak to the helicopter rescue unit who assisted with the rescue mission in Afghanistan after his helicopter crashed.

    JBER military personnel and retirees with base access are welcome to attend the speaking engagement.


    Read the article about Ryan Leighton here: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/12/running-for-his-life/546944/

    What: Helicopter crash survivor, guest speaker
    When: Tuesday, April 17, 10 a.m.
    Where: JBER, Arctic Warrior Events Center, 9387 Kuter Ave, Anchorage, AK 99506
    Note: Media interested in attending the speaking engagement should contact Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead at 428-6030 or text 727-1972 by 9 a.m. Please text or leave a voice message with name of news organization and reporter. Plan to meet at the Boniface gate visitor’s center at 9:30 a.m. for escort to the event.



    Date Taken: 04.16.2018
    Date Posted: 04.16.2018 21:44
    Story ID: 273286

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