Walk, Run, Fly

A Survivor Memoir


Navy Lt. John Alvarez was deployed on special assignment with the Air Force to Ecuador in 1996. While on a training mission, his helicopter crashed. He ended up losing his left leg below the knee. The is the story of how he became the first pilot in the US military to go back to unrestricted flight status after losing a limb.


Interviewer and Writer




In Edits

Behind the Story

Why This Story

I have spent almost two years working on this story; interviewing, drafting outlines, writing, rewriting, and editing because Lt. John Alvarez, now a retired Colonel, is my father. It has been over 20 years since the accident–I was only 5 years old. It profoundly changed my life and how I saw it.

I wrote this story in homage to my father and my family, who shaped how I perceive my life’s challenges and how I care for my community. After the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, my father became a mentor who passed his lessons forward to other young men and women who wanted to get back on their feet after catastrophic injury. While this story has been told over and over within our group of friends and family, and in some pockets of the military family, I wanted to give it a chance to reach others.

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