A Wise Pilot
On April 11, 2015, a boat struck Capt. Christy Wise while she was paddle boarding in Destin, Florida. Despite the shock of being struck, she had the wherewithal to attempt to swim away from the boat's propeller. Her quick reaction combined with the fast actions of her then boyfriend to make a tourniquet and the help of locals in a nearby fishing boat saved her life. She lost her right leg above the knee and spent 8 months in grueling physical rehabilitation at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, Texas.
To return to active duty and flying status, Wise had to pass an Air Force fitness test, requalify for her aircraft on flight simulators, and prove to the medical board she could perform the tasks of a pilot. Wise returned to active duty May 20, 2016--a little more than a year after her injury. She became only the sixth amputee and the first female to return to flying in the United States Air Force after losing a limb.
While recovering and only 9 weeks after her accident, Wise competed as part of the Air Force team in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)Warrior Games. She won 11 medals and went on to represent Team USA in the international Invictus Games in May 2016. Throughout her recovery process, Wise freely shared her story with service members and civilians at various venues. She gave credit to her squadron, base and her broader Air Force family for supporting her through the recovery process. Humbled by how many people reached out to her, she started a nonprofit organization for amputee children in Haiti.The organization held its first fundraiser in August 2015--a paddle board race in the same spot she was hit. In 2016, Wise led two separate teams to Haiti, where they delivered 10 prostheses, fixed 12 existing prostheses, made two braces, and provided physical and occupational therapy to folks in need.
Wise's courage and determination to continue her Air Force career while also using her experience to help others exemplifies tremendous courage and strength of character. For her efforts, Wise was awarded the Wilma Vaught Leadership Award and the Parker Greene Volunteer Award.