|Hill Air Force Base Newspapers
|No Copyright - United States (NoC-US)
|Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
|Hill Air Force Base Newspapers
W T M FIS . 3, 2008 Reaching out moving on and up "He sets an exceptional example, and I'm a better leader because of him." Maj. WILEY BARNES, 28th Bomb Wing executive officer and former intelligence flight commander of the airman who lost part of his leg Master Sgt. Ronald Heller, 28th Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight superintendent, stretches with his co-workers during a group physical training session at a hangar at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., on March 20. Heller lost the lower half of one leg due to cardiovascular blood complications, but gained a renewed vigor for his outlook on life. STAFF SGT. MICHAEL B. KELLER U.S. Air Force BY SENIOR AIRMAN JOSHUA STEVENS 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs E LLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. — Upon seeing him, one would never suspect a difference between him and anyother uniformed servicemember. He stands tall, exhibiting a morethan-personable attitude and fervor for military professionalism. „.,,,..._.. However, there is more to this airman than anyone would immediately suspect -.——-.*..*• In May 2007, Master Sgt. Ronald Heller, 28th Operations Support Squadron intelligence flight superintendent, lost the lower half of one leg due to cardiovascular blood complications, but gained a renewed vigor for his outlook on life. Hie problem arises During a deployment to Guam in the first half of 2006, Heller began to notice he was having odd sensations in his foot. "I started noticing a tingle in my toes and wondered what was happen- ing," the master sergeant said. "Once I got back (to Ellsworth) I went to get checked out, because I thought I might have gotten a piece of coral stuck in my foot while scuba diving." At first, doctors were not able to pinpoint the problem, having taken X-rays, which brought no evidence of coral under Heller's skin. After a series of tests and procedures, specialists had discovered that the amount of blood platelets in the leg was five times higher than aver- age. Due to this, the vessels in his leg and foot were clotting and producing severe pressure buildup in his leg. By the end of all of the testing, it was March 2007 and doctors told Heller he would have to lose his toes. There was also the remote possibility of a leg amputation. "Not knowing what was going to happen was very difficult," said Kari Heller, Sgt. Heller's fiancee atthe time,., and now his wife. The day finally arrivecl for feller to *liave the operation on his toes. With the love and support of his wife and family he was as prepared as one can be prior to a major surgery. Unfortunately complications arose during surgery that warranted the amputation of the leg, just below the knee. "I wasn't allowed to see family for about an hour afterward while the nurse explained what had happened during surgery," he said. Once they were able to see me, my parents were there to console me after the shock. Hie recovery "After the surgery, for me, (the hardest part) was wondering how Ron was going to overcome losing his leg," Kari said. "I knew he was a very strong person, but you just never know how someone will react when they are faced with a life-changing event." "I just told myself, Til be able to walk; it's not going to slow me down,'" the airman said. "I couldn't wait to get a leg and walk once more." Two months after the surgery, he was fitted for his prosthetic leg. After attending only two physical therapy sessions, he amazed doctors and family with how fast he was able to walk again. "Ever since Ron got his prosthesis, he lets nothing get in his way," Kari Heller said. "He is determined to do everything he could do before he lost his limb, if not better. Even before this happened, he was my hero — now he is my superhero." A self-proclaimed "gym rat," Heller was used to pushing himself. He consistently scored in the high 80's to mid90's on physical fitness testing prior to the surgery. In his first post-surgery fitness test, he scored a 78. "I feel ahead of the power curve (as far as amputations go)," Heller said with pride. "I have made great progress with my prosthetic in only seven months, when it takes an average of a year for most people to come this far." Becoming an inspiration The master sargeant said the support of those around him has served as great motivation. "My co-workers and leadership have been phenomenal," he said. "Their support has been huge in my recovery. I realized that the Air Force is a big family. It has become an influence for how I act as a superintendent, and reinforced how I care for my people and our mission." Those who have worked with him easily recognize his willpower. "Sergeant Heller cares about his airmen, he faithfully supports his leaders, and he's a hard-nosed competitor who'll let nothing stand in his way," said Maj. Wiley Barnes, 28th Bomb Wing executive officer and Sgt. Heller's former intelligence flight commander. "It has been my privilege to serve alongside him. He sets an exceptional example, and I'm a better leader because of him. I look forward to calling on Chief Master Sgt. Heller in a few years for advice." During his recovery process, Heller met a man who had been disabled in a car accident. This man became a source of his inspiration. , "He just had an overall positive attitude," Heller said. "Spending time with him showed me the importance of having a positive attitude. You can't blame anyone or have a negative attitude. This was actually a second chance at life, and keeping that mindset helps not only you, but those around you." He reflects these ideals in his personal life as well. "Ron has shown me and others that despite the challenges we face, we have the power of choice," Kari Heller said. "We can either grow from an experience to rise above it or we can become a victim of circumstance." It is important to him to share his outlook and advice with those who find themselves with a disability. "Make sure you don't hold it in — talk with people," the airman said. "You may be embarrassed at first, but there is nothing to be embarrassed about. You just have to keep a lighthearted attitude about it." Tb those who may know people with disabilities, he said, "One thing they don't want is sympathy. I'm the same person I was before and so are they." '27 Dresses' follows well-worn pattern to enjoyable moments BY STEVE SALLES Standard-Examiner movie critic R Twentieth Century Fox Films Perpetual bridesmaid Jane (Katherine Heigl) revels in her impromptu modeling session of a dress she calls the "Bahama Mama" in "27 Dresses." iding on the taffeta train of the wildly successful "Knocked Up," Katherine Heigl goes oldschool romantic comedy this time as Jane, the perfect little helper when it comes to planning the BIG day. She has the worst collection of bridesmaid's dresses you'll ever see. She's filled an entire closet with these garish costumes, which I'm convinced are purposely hideous to make the brides look that much better. Unfortunately, the dresses may be the most creative aspect of this movie. Jane works for the clueless George (Edward Burns), the editor of a hip outdoor sports magazine. She anticipates his every need as the dutiful assistant, and has developed a blushing crush for the big lug over the years. Her comedic best friend, caustic life analyzer and the film's resident tramp, Casey (Judy Greer), pushes Jane to grow a backbone, but before she can, Jane's flighty, younger sister less ("Heartbreak Kid's" Malin Akerman) comes to visit and George falls instantly head over heels. So now Jane faces the ultimate insult—having to plan her baby sister's wedding to the man she truly loves. Ouch. In the meantime, Jane meets Kevin (James Marsden)—at a wedding, of course. Only she doesnt know that he writes the "wedding and commitments" column for her favorite New York newspaper. He personally hates weddings and marriage, calling them the last form of legal slavery, but sees Jane's always-a-bridesmaid story as a way to get off that beat. So, as per formula, he sees an opportunity to take advantage before he really gets to know her, while she insists he's just a creep and, as per formula, wants nothing to do with him. But over time... you can guess the rest I must admit that I did enjoy Heigl's performance here, plus Greer's gritty insights, and Marsden proves once again that he can bring the laughs.