Published Sat, Sep 24, 2011 8:13 pm Dateline
ROTC Air Force Ohio University Student Matt Pirrello is asking to be allowed to serve in the Air Force with a prosthetic leg.
Pirrello, a sophomore from Dayton, lost his right leg while attending a special air jumping school the summer after his freshman year in 2010. He was given the opportunity to go to Colorado Springs and do five air jumps from a military plane. His first jump earned a perfect score.
"It's one of those feelings where you're just amazed that you're doing it," Pirrello said.
Pirrello's second jump, on June 25, was delayed for 45 minutes because of wind conditions. On his second jump, Pirrello hit his leg on a windsock pole, which ripped his right leg off immediately. His left leg broke when he hit the pole.
Pirrello says he doesn't remember seeing what happened after he jumped out of the plane, but he was able to feel what was happening.
"It just felt like someone hit me with a baseball bat," Pirrello said.
Pirello's girlfriend, who he met at Ohio University, found out about the accident hours after his family.
"I was pretty devastated," Maggie Pattaglia said.
Pirrello spent about one month in Colorado Springs in rehabilitation before he was transferred to the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. The medical center is one of two premier medical hospitals for military men.
Pirrello got the chance to go through rehabilitation with people who were recently hurt serving overseas.
He has not been walking again for a full year yet, but he knows he wants to serve in the Air Force.
Pirrello is filing an "exception to" policy, which is a collection of medical records and recommendations from his rehabilitation doctors. An exception never been made for an ROTC student. People who are already serving in the military usually file such exceptions, but because Pirrello is a ROTC student, he is not officially in the military.
"It's never been done before so it definitely looks intimidating from that sense," Pirrello said.
Pirrello is a business major, so if he is not able to serve in the Air Force he plans to go into business.
Pirrello will learn if he will be able to serve in the Air Force in the spring of 2012.
In the slideshow photos, Pirrello is interviewed by WOUB. He also goes for a training run with Pattaglia. Photographer Samantha Goresh says he used to run six-minute miles and now is running 12-minute miles. Pattaglia is working with him to train so he run 1.5 miles in 13 minutes as required by the Air Force. One of her friends is the president of the running club and gave them a rehab workout to do.