Disabled Servicemembers Recognized by DoD for Outstanding Performance

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

prosthetic legThe Department of Defense has formally singled out 17 wounded or disabled servicemembers or DoD employees for outstanding achievement. The 32nd Annual Department of Defense Disability Awards Ceremony was hosted December 4th by Frederick E. Vollrath, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management, in the Pentagon Auditorium.

Among those recognized:

SSG Alexander Shaw, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). SSGT lost his left leg below the knee to an improvised explosive device in Ramadi, Iraq in 2006. A devoted runner, he despaired of being able to run again. But he worked closely with Bulow BioTech Prosthetics, which helped him develop a suitable prosthetic leg at no charge to the soldier. Eventually, Shaw was also able to run again, using a prosthetic foot developed by Össur. With the help of these two prosthetic devices, Shaw was able to remain on active duty. He is currently still assigned to a non-deployable section of the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he plans to do a full 20-year career in the Army.

SSG Donald G. Sistrunk, Warrior Transition Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. SSG Sistrunk was selected for the award for his tremendous and selfless dedication to helping every veteran he meets, wounded or otherwise, on duty or off. Sistrunk is the post commander of his local VFW chapter, near Ft. Hood, Texas.

Sgt. Julian P. Torres, USMC. Sgt. Torres was wounded in Afghanistan early in his deployment, on July 15, 2010, when he lost both of his legs. His wife and journey through the Navy medical system is detailed here.

Capt. Ryan Maguire, USAF. Ryan’s leg had to be amputated after a boating accident over Labor Day weekend in 2009. Capt. Maguire completed a 26-mile walk just three months after strapping on his prosthetic for the first time. Despite the injury, Capt. Maguire was able to complete his training as a U.S. Air Force pilot, and graduated from his undergraduate pilot school last year. He is the first amputee to earn USAF pilot wings.

Those were the uniformed service members honored at the ceremony. The Department of Defense also honored a number of civilian employees who themselves had overcome the obstacle of a physical disability to excel at their jobs. Their names and agencies are:

  • David L. Miller, Department of the Army
  • Bruce Baraw, Department of the Navy
  • LaVonne Rosenthal, National Guard Bureau
  • Grayson J. Colegrove, Army and Air Force Exchange Service
  • Billy W. Bowens, Defense Commissary Agency
  • Thomas G. Pisoni, Defense Contract Audit Agency
  • Samson Isaacs, Defense Contract Management Agency
  • Edward L. Bright, Defense Finance and Accounting Service
  • Sarah E. Gunn, Defense Intelligence Agency
  • John A. Clark Jr., Defense Logistics Agency
  • Carl Doeler, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  • Julia G. Orth, National Security Agency 


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