June 20, 2021


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NAS Pensacola shooting survivor opens Gulf Breeze wrestling gym

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One year ago, Airman Ryan Blackwell was just weeks away from medically retiring from the Navy.

A training injury from several years earlier had proven to be debilitating, and Blackwell’s date for leaving military service was fast-approaching.

But everything changed Dec. 6, 2019, when a terrorist launched a deadly attack at NAS Pensacola.

On that day, Blackwell shielded a colleague from the shooter’s gunfire and saved her life. His own body absorbed six bullets.

Blackwell was one of eight people, both in the military and civilians, who were injured in the shooting, which also claimed the lives of three young sailors.

For Blackwell, a year of recovery followed the shooting. For four months, he used a colostomy bag after one of the bullets tore into his abdomen. Nerve damage in his arm led to chronic pain with a prognosis that could last a lifetime.

But today, Blackwell is not bitter.

One year later:NAS Pensacola heals from tragedy, stands resilient a year after terrorist attack

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