Tinker Airman recieves ACC award

  • Published
  • By Kimberly Woodruff
  • Tinker Public Affairs
A Tinker Airman is the Outstanding Department of Defense Service Member with a Disability Award winner for Air Combat Command.

Tech. Sgt. Chad Molenhour lost his leg in a near fatal motorcycle accident two years ago, but with a positive attitude, remains on active duty with the 552nd Air Control Wing and mentors other wounded warriors.

On Sept. 30, 2012, Sergeant Molenhour and his wife, Twyla, were on leave when the motorcycle accident occurred. Both were severely injured, each sustaining a fractured pelvis, a fractured arm/shoulder and both having a leg amputated.

The couple, hospitalized for 10 months in five different medical facilities, endured 15 surgeries.

"Initially, my morale was very low and I was unsure about what life was going to be like from that moment on," said Sergeant Molenhour.

His perspective would soon change. After a call from his first sergeant, Sergeant Molenhour learned that he and Twyla had been selected to continue their recovery process at the Center for Intrepid in San Antonio.

"I had that opportunity to recover alongside my combat injured brothers- and sisters-in-arms," the sergeant said. "My attitude toward life changed drastically while at the CFI."
This past year, Sergeant Molenhour was called on by his first sergeant to aid a young Airman who had been in a similar motorcycle accident sustaining a lower limb amputation.

"As a wounded warrior myself, I was uniquely able to console the Airman through this rough time and mentor him through the five stages of grieving to help him through his healing," said Sergeant Molenhour. The Airman is still recovering at CFI.

Col. Jay Bickley, 552nd ACW commander said recognition outside of the wing, especially at the major command level, is a testament to Sergeant Molenhour's exceptional work ethic.

"Sergeant Molenhour's amazing story of experiencing and overcoming adversity is truly remarkable and his adherence to our Air Force's core values certainly merits receiving this prestigious award," the colonel said.

Sergeant Molenhour said he was honored to be nominated and selected for this award.
"I know there are many other DOD employees out there with disabilities even worse off than mine, yet they still get the job done," he said. "I feel it is my duty to share my experience with others and show them that there is nothing that cannot be overcome."

Since his accident, Sergeant Molenhour and his wife have met several people who have sustained similar injuries and share their stories to inspire them to overcome.
"I was given a second chance, and I will not waste another minute without making the most of my life," he said.