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 Special Report ~ Ryan Blackwell ~ His Purple Heart Story

Purple Heart recipient, Ryan Blackwell, was my guest for one hour, on Gene Valentino’s ‘GrassRoots TruthCast’. Ryan lays-out in detail his response to the 30-minute Saudi Arabian terrorist attack on the morning of December 6, 2019. He describes the details of the attack to 11 people, killing 3, that occurred at Naval Air Station Pensacola in the early morning. Patriotism starts at home. For Ryan, it did that day. Please enjoy this special report and share it with every PATRIOT you know.



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Special Report ~ Ryan Blackwell ~ His Purple Heart Story

Gene Valentino: [00:00:00] Hi everybody

and welcome to a special edition of Grassroots Truthcast. I’m Gene Valentino. Today we’re going to delve into a foreign terror attack that happened right here in Pensacola, Florida. When a local hero, Ryan Blackwell, stepped up that day to defend not only himself, but his fellow sailors. For more information visit www.

grassrootstruthcast. com We all remember the 9 11 attacks in 2001 when Muslim terrorists murdered 2, 997 people and tried to destroy the heart of New York City. That wasn’t the last we heard of Muslim violence in our country. The next major attack was at the home of the Blue Angels in Pensacola, Florida.

On December 6, 2019, a Muslim Saudi [00:01:00] Arabian Flight student, who for some reason was being trained by our government at our own naval military facility, attacked American service members at Pensacola Naval Air Station. The attack killed three service members and wounded eight more. E3, Ryan Blackwell, stepped up that day, and in building 633, this evil doer, Attacked our own Ryan, who took six bullets himself.

He survived and saved others in the process. We’re going to learn about Ryan Blackwell and why he justifiably received a purple heart right after this.

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Gene Valentino: Welcome back to Gene Valentino’s Grassroots Truth Cast. This special report, special edition. I have the privilege of being next to Ryan Blackwell.

Ryan, thank [00:03:00] you for being with us today. A Purple Heart recipient, a man who has received other accolades from the United States government for his actions that started at 5. 30 in the morning. I would do it injustice to tell the rest of the story. The rest of the story is yours, Ryan. What happened on that day?

Ryan Blackwell: Well, thank you for having me first and foremost. I really appreciate the opportunity to shed light on the situation and the story and, and Kind of hope to create some awareness at the end of it. But yeah, so I arrived to work about five 30 in the morning. My job, I worked in the international military training office.

I was an unrated airman. I had previously entered the Navy on a warrior challenge program, and I had endured some training that I was going through. And during my training cycle, I had sustained some injuries and I I ended up dropping from the training cycle, got stationed here in NAS, Pensacola to where I got changed over as an airman and went underwent some surgeries [00:04:00] and then I got stashed in the military, international military training office working with NATO countries and military personnel from Saudi Arabia and other, other countries.

So, that morning I arrived at 0530 and I, my, my job was to muster. The Royal Saudi Air Force and Navy IFS students. And that’s typical procedure on a, on a Friday, they, they would come in and they would start their muster about 0600 in the morning. And it would, but they’d have to show up before 07 and get everybody all accounted for.

So it’s around, you know, six, 615 in the morning. You, you, or around six o’clock you start hearing that the Saudis are coming in and there’s some are checking in, but most of them are calling in. And saying that they’re unable to make the morning.

Gene Valentino: Is that normal?

Ryan Blackwell: And that that would be normal. If they have a flight scheduled or if they have a test that’s coming up somewhere, driving from a farther destinations and others that were living local on the base or invasive.

Gene Valentino: For all the other Saudis not to show up that day, was it peculiar?

Ryan Blackwell: It could have raised an [00:05:00] eyebrow. But I had I was in my first Friday and it wasn’t the first time I had a bunch call out, you know, either. So it wasn’t anything kind of crazy. And, you know, it was like getting towards that holiday stand down to where people take their leave and they go visit their family and all that.

So we were in, you know, December 6th. So it was, it wasn’t a crazy workload that was in the building, especially that early in the morning. There wasn’t a lot of people that were really there yet. So Yeah, it wasn’t too crazy, but then again, you know what I mean? Hindsight being what it is, it definitely raised an eyebrow.

Gene Valentino: So we’re hearing nationwide from Christopher Wray head of the FBI, that this Mohammed Al Shamrami was one of the two flight students that day in the Saudi Arabians Military Air Force that was training At your location, in your building, around [00:06:00] you. Let’s talk about the specifics of that day in a minute, but clearly he became radicalized.

How did that happen?

Ryan Blackwell: Well, prior to December 6th I don’t think that there was any, well, the vetting process, obviously they vet them, that they come over and there was two, if I’m not mistaken, that came from Saudi Arabia for, for the flight program. And they had this, this, this guy Al Shamrani was here for 18 months.

So he was at the tail end of his flight program and he wasn’t even part of our command or our building. He, he wasn’t part of anything. He wasn’t even one, one of the ones that was supposed to muster that morning. He was just a Saudi student at that point that was just entering a building that he had previous knowledge of being at for his academic portion of the flight program.

So his, he, he came in he came back to us, so he had, he had already went through the whole duration of his, of his of his program and he was getting ready to go back. So it didn’t really come out that this guy was [00:07:00] radicalized or anything until The FBI were able to get access to his two locked cell phones.

One of them that he had put a round in during the interaction with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department.

Gene Valentino: We’re going to come back to that sequence in a minute, but go ahead.

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah. And then so, and then they had, they had his cell phones, right? And so they were able to crack his cell phone and find his manifesto, which then dated back to 2015.

To where he had, he had starting. I don’t know what the manifesto had said, but it, it was something along the lines of, of him kind of interacting with Al-Qaeda or, or having this plan to carry out and you know, infiltrate the United States military and carry out of you know, a terroristic act.

Gene Valentino: So we’re back to five 30 in the morning.

What happened?

Ryan Blackwell: So five 30 is when I arrived. This thing started kicking off around, around like 645, roughly. So like prior, prior to that, I’m sitting at, sitting at my office and there, there’s two other colleagues of [00:08:00] mine that are in the office with me. One of them’s positioned at a round table that’s directly in front of the desk that I’m sitting at.

And the other one is to the left of me, sitting in some chairs by the, by the door and the door’s positioned in front of me. So were

Gene Valentino: there three in the room plus you?

Ryan Blackwell: There, there’s two others in me counting to be three. And then so, so two other military personnel, plus myself, equaling three that were in that office at the time.


Gene Valentino: and what was this Mohamed Al Sharami’s first contact with you?

Ryan Blackwell: So he had walked by the office and he, and I had two Saudi students that were checking in for muster in front of me. He had walked by the office and he had just looked in and smiled and I told him good morning and he just smiled and just kept walking.

He, he had on a green flight suit. With his Royal Saudi Air Force patch insignia on his sleeve and carrying a green helmet bag. And you know, just as any other military personnel would had his uniform of the day on and just looked in, smiled and just kept, kept walking.

Gene Valentino: So he had a Saudi [00:09:00] military airman’s outfit on.

Ryan Blackwell: He had our green flight suit on with that, that they get as they go through our program and it had his patches on his, on the flight. On his. Yes, sir.

Gene Valentino: So he passes your door, you two acknowledge each other, but he keeps going. He keeps going. Correct. Okay. We’re about what? Approaching 645.

Ryan Blackwell: Yes, sir. So rough around 6 45.

He approaches. He’s at the quarter deck, and I hear a loud gunshot go off and next

Gene Valentino: door to you.

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. About 20 yards down the hallway from me. Not not too far. It’s like kind of the entrance to the building. In a sense to where where you have your watch standing at and you check in with the watch if you’re getting access to the building or whatever the case may be.

So we had we had the watch was that on the quarter deck. And that was around 6. 45, I hear a gunshot go off.

Gene Valentino: One. One gunshot. One

Ryan Blackwell: go off at first, and then it, then it, I kind of was startled. And the way, like, time happens in this, it seems so long, but it happens so fast. You [00:10:00] know what I mean? So, like, you hear the first gunshot, I remember rising from my, my, my desk that I was sitting at, walking forward, and then I continue to hear more gunshots.

And then I start hearing chaos unfold. And then I start, Ray, Ray just triggers that it is an active shooter situation and it’s something, something’s going on.

Gene Valentino: All right, you had not made contact with this terrorist yet.

Ryan Blackwell: I have not.

Gene Valentino: Okay, but you hear a lot of shots going off, people screaming a lot of commotion.

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. And even at this moment, I don’t know that Al Sharmani is the terrorist. I don’t know who’s doing the shooting. I just know that there’s gunshots going off

Gene Valentino: at this moment.

Ryan Blackwell: There’s just gunshots are going off and there’s chaos happening on the quarterdeck. And I don’t know who it is. I didn’t get it.

I didn’t get a visual. Like I said, there was no weapon brain dish when we first made eye contact with each other. And I greeted him with a good morning. It was just like, just typical, you know? And then, Fast forward a couple minutes from there, that’s whenever the shooting starts to unfold, and I had just got this feeling inside that our office was

Gene Valentino: [00:11:00] next.

So you got up from your chair and made your way toward that classroom door entry?

Ryan Blackwell: Yes, it was, it was an office about, you know, 16 by 16 square foot, nothing too crazy with two desks positioned in the back of the office with two windows behind each of those desks a door in the front that was part wood, part glass pane.

So it was kind of half and half door, but there was a keypad on the outside of the door. And so as I, as I had gotten up, I told the, the officer that was in front of me, the female, I had told her to, what’s her

Gene Valentino: name?

Ryan Blackwell: Ensign Thomas.

Gene Valentino: Ensign Thomas. Yes.

Ryan Blackwell: I, I had told her to like to take cover behind me under the desk and to call 9 1 1 and report the active shooter.

Gene Valentino: And she did.

Ryan Blackwell: And she did. Yes, sir. And then there was the gentleman that was positioned closest to the door Airman Apprentice Johnson. I had told him to secure the door, shut off the lights, and to take cover.

Austin Elliot: He did? He

Ryan Blackwell: did. And right as he was getting under the desk, we had the TV on with the morning with the morning news, and I had told him to cut the TV off, so we just tried to make it look like it was a dead office, like nobody had came to work yet.

And he [00:12:00] had positioned himself under the desk that was directly next to me.

Gene Valentino: But the alleged shooter had already passed your door.

Ryan Blackwell: He had. There was So I was looking back to know who the shooter was. Yes, he had already passed the door and it was and there was, there was activity going on in there that morning.

And so yeah, as that, as the, the, the office got secured the best we could, as the word got put out to 911 that there was an active shooter, I had called my office supervisor, Captain Whitlock, and I had told him that there was an active shooter and to not enter the building. And then right as I was kind of getting that message out to him, he told me to get out of there.

Gene Valentino: Okay, so Captain Whitlock plays an important role in the min we’ll talk about in a minute. But now, the active shooter, 9 1 1 has been called. There’s the two other, Whitlock and, excuse me Thomas and Johnson are behind ta desks, turned over in the office. And someone’s going up. Was it you or was it Johnson that went up and locked that door?

Ryan Blackwell: So [00:13:00] Johnson, the door was open. He was sitting in a chair right next to the door, so he had secured the door just by closing it, and then he went and took cover. At that time, I was on the phone calling the captain, and Instant Thomas was on the phone calling 911. And the desk, they were L shaped, so it did have a front on it, so it was just like, it ran along the wall, and then it came across the front of the room is how the desks were positioned, so we didn’t.

We didn’t flip the desk over, but there was like pressed wood as the front of the desk. It wasn’t like a a steel desk or by any means, it was just like, you know, a regular cubicle desk. And so we had taken cover the airman airman apprentice Johnson took over by himself under the desk that was to me facing door to my left.

And then I took cover under the desk kneeling behind the desk to the one on the right and instant Thomas was directly behind me under the desk positioned with the David Pasqualone, [00:14:00] Remarkable

Gene Valentino: People

Ryan Blackwell: Podcast, Listen. He had came by and he shot out the glass window pane of the door and then he had shot me.


Gene Valentino: it a clear glass? Translucent glass? It

Ryan Blackwell: was translucent and it was, could you

Gene Valentino: see a body through the other side?

Ryan Blackwell: You could see a figure. Okay. But the way, the way it happened was like it happened so fast I didn’t really see him. I just was on the phone and then I just got shot in my arm. And then I had, you got shot

Gene Valentino: in your

Ryan Blackwell: arm that was holding the phone up to my ear.

So I was on, I was talking on the phone with my, in my right hand and I had it, I had it up to my ear and I was, I was talking to my captain. So you

Gene Valentino: got shot in your right arm here, sir? I got stuck in my right

Ryan Blackwell: arm, yes sir. And so I was in a kneeling position. I was kind of like in a crouching, not necessarily within I was just a kneeling kind of position behind a desk, kind of trying to look and see what was going on, but talking and making sure everything else is getting taken care of as far as 9 1 [00:15:00] 1 and where everybody’s good.

You’re carrying

Gene Valentino: on a conversation with a bullet hole in your arm.

Ryan Blackwell: Before that I’m on the phone and then right as I’m, as my captain tells me to get out of the office is when I get shot in my arm and I dropped, I dropped my phone. My phone’s still on the call, but I dropped my phone and one comes through my arm and I rotate counterclockwise.

And Anson Briana is directly behind me. So as I turn counterclockwise, I’m in a crouching position. I don’t jump on top of her, but I’m just kind of a wall between her and the shooter. And I cover her in a sense. And I take another one off the right side of my rib cage. Two came into my back my lower back.

One came out the inside of my right thigh. The other came out of my left hip. And I had one go to into my right calf and the other one going to my left foot.

Gene Valentino: If I count correctly, that’s six bullets. Correct. And did any, did the captain or the ensign get shot?

Ryan Blackwell: Yes. So the captain wasn’t in the office, but the, the other gentleman [00:16:00] Airman Prince Johnson, he did receive gunshot wounds as well.

And one of the bullets that had came through the, through me, the one that came through the inside of my thigh had struck Ensign Thomas in her calf. And as, as the broad, so the

Gene Valentino: bullet went through you, it did, and proceeded into her calf?

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. It went through my back. It hit my, my pelvis came out the inside of my right hip or right thigh.

And then because I was crouching, kind of like in a rotated crouching position, and it struck her in her calf. And

Gene Valentino: now what happened to the, the, what happened to the shooter? He had, he did, he, he obviously had clear aim at you at some point.

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. So I had received six gunshot wounds and I know the other gentlemen in the office had received you know, six or six to eight.

I’m not really sure how many he did, but he, he had a lot that he that he sustained as well. And come to find out that the, the shooter had a Glock 45, nine millimeter. With extended magazines, which would have the capacity of holding 14 rounds and he was using ball rounds. [00:17:00] So it created a ricocheted more so than a mushroom, like a hollow point would.

So in a sense

Gene Valentino: that might be better,

Ryan Blackwell: correct, or worse in my situation to where it ricocheted through my body where the exit holes didn’t line up with the trajectory of the entrance, but do the, the kind of bouncing off of the bone. It created, you know kind of some lesions that were internal that I wasn’t aware of.

Gene Valentino: At what point did you make contact with this, um, assailant Mohammed Al Shamrani? So, I When did you make eye contact? In what level of his volley of six bullets into you?

Ryan Blackwell: So, to kind of backtrack, I Had kind of checked him in 18 months prior. So when he came to our so when he first came to America, as far as to go through the, the flight program

Gene Valentino: which you administered,

Ryan Blackwell: I only did the, the basic low level fruit as far as just getting them acclimated to the United States and helping make sure that they were prepared to.

Go [00:18:00] through their educational portion of their flight program. And

Gene Valentino: this job was part of your transition in your military career.

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. I had gotten placed on a medical board due to a wrist fusion for a surgery that I had sustained while I was still active duty. So I got stashed in the international military training office, which turned to be my job for the next 18 months while I was awaiting the results of a medical board that I was, that the Navy had It took on, that put me through just because of the fusion of my wrist.

Gene Valentino: Okay. I’ve interrupted you. Go back to this whack job shooter. Who, when did you first make contact with? Yeah, so

Ryan Blackwell: the first contact was so like, like I said, we 18 months of the program. Saw him in the beginning. I saw him that morning, didn’t know who the shooter was, and we were getting shot. All I know is that after I had got, I had gotten shot, I had fallen over and I covered my head.

And like some of the crazy thoughts that were just going through my mind, you know, it was just like don’t get, don’t get shot in the head, you know, and it was like, man, you go through the fear of dying and it’s like, you know, I don’t, I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. You know, don’t get shot in the head, you know?

And [00:19:00] then all of a sudden I had this overwhelming peace come over me. And it was like probably the most peace and bliss I’ve ever felt in my life. Was it

Gene Valentino: a, was it a general peace? Was it, Some spiritual revelation with you and your God, what was it?

Ryan Blackwell: It just felt like you just really relaxed and I just in a tranquil state as far as just kind of I didn’t hear gunshots no more.

You know what I mean? It was just kind of like I was drifting in a sense. And you

Gene Valentino: were drifting with eight bullets in you, six bullets in you.

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. I only thought you know, well, So, I only thought I got shot twice when, when, when I kind of like, when, when, whenever I start to come through, I only thought I got shot twice.

I remember the initial gunshot to my arm because I was like, man, I can’t believe I just got shot. You know, I just remember I got dropped the phone, looked at my hand, rotated counterclockwise and just a, a bunch more came in. But as I was kind of laying there, like cover my head and going through this kind of a, this crazy life [00:20:00] experience, you know, I started to hear Blackwell. Blackwell, are you still there? Now

Gene Valentino: that’s Captain Whitlock.

Ryan Blackwell: On my phone.

Gene Valentino: On your phone. That’s still live on the call. It’s still live on the call. The phone wasn’t in your hand. It was on the floor. And you were a few feet from the phone. I

Ryan Blackwell: was, I was a couple of feet. So as I kind of dropped it and as I rotated, I.

I covered her, then I fell off to my right,

Gene Valentino: covered,

Ryan Blackwell: Anson Thomas as I, as I rotated after the first gunshot wound, I rotated counterclockwise

Gene Valentino: to cover her in some way to cover her in a sense. Oh, cover her with your body.

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. But I didn’t lay on top of her. She was just, it was just like a brick wall, her and me.

And then the shooter. And so that’s kind of like how it went. And then I fell to my right side and just started. And the

Gene Valentino: shooter was still shooting.

Ryan Blackwell: He was still shooting. I think he took his attention off of me and to put his attention on the other desk that was next to me. Cause I’d like to, I like time happen.

Like I said, it’s like a warp of time, right? It seems so slow and so fast at the same time. And in that experience, like as I was kind of drifting and I heard that phone [00:21:00] call It just really brought me back to like, I’m a wrestler. You know, I wrestled my whole life. I wrestled in college. I grew up wrestling.

I own a wrestling facility now. And it’s like one of the things like in wrestling, like the third period, right? It’s that, it’s that gut check moment to where you’re tired and you really put your all into, into trying to defeat this opponent. And maybe you’re on bottom and you got to get up. Right. And that’s where my mind kind of went was like, you got to get up, Ryan, you got to get up.

And so I crawled to my phone and And as I picked up my phone.

Gene Valentino: You were talking to Captain Whitlock was still on the phone. He

Ryan Blackwell: heard the whole, all the shooting. Did he hear the gunfire? He heard the gunfire. He heard everything unfold. Did you

Gene Valentino: know that he stepped into action to do something to help you?

Ryan Blackwell: I just had a feeling just because of how like the brotherhood works with the military that he wasn’t going to leave me hanging,

Gene Valentino: you know. Well that’s, and I think that probably saved your life in terms of timing.

Ryan Blackwell: Right. And, you know, being, being an, an officer in the Marine Corps, he’s just like any officer.

He’s held to a high standard. And, you know, [00:22:00] he he responded without without question, you know, and he, he really stepped up and, and did what I hope any great leader would do, you know, and as I had picked up his phone and I just said, sir I did a visual. It’s like two things are happening at once.

I see in St. Thomas mouth, Timmy, that she’s been shot in her leg. Airman Apprentice Johnson is. You know, he, he’s kind of like screaming, agonizing pain because his right leg is broken. It was broken. It was riddled with gunshots. His whole right side was road with gunshots. And

Gene Valentino: it was more than one bullet.


Ryan Blackwell: had sustained multiple gunshot wounds as well. And so as I did a visual of the room, I told captain Whitlock, sir, we’ve all been hit. I’m gonna get us out of here and I’ll call you back. And I just put the phone in my pocket. At that point, we have no, no more gunfire is going on. It’s everything is kind of settled and I just got up and Well,

Gene Valentino: wait a minute now.

What happened to the assailant? Where did he,

Ryan Blackwell: he had walked past our office. He had left our office after he

Gene Valentino: unloaded.

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. Yeah. He had kind of like unloaded [00:23:00] or, or just about unloaded. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I know that he had put a lot of rounds into our office and then left our space and had carried on down, probably like another 20 feet or so from our office.

During that time that’s whenever I was on the phone. I’ll, as soon as I like got off the phone with Captain Whitlock, I went to the back window, which had like a floor AC unit that was vented out. Well, that’s the question.

Gene Valentino: How’d you get out of there?

Ryan Blackwell: Right. So I like, I just remember telling myself I’m fast and I, and I, and to be honest with you, in that moment, Wait a minute,

Gene Valentino: you’ve got six bullets in you and you’re working at the back window.

Ryan Blackwell: Ray, I only thought I had gotten shot twice. My arm and my leg were the two that I felt really bad. Like I felt my arm, like my arm was completely paralyzed. My right arm, like it completely just incapacitated the arm. I couldn’t use it at all. It was just dangling. And then I felt it like a big hole in the back of my right leg.

And so as I like got to the window, I used my left arm and I removed the tubing and the plate that had the ACE unit vented out of the window. I’d unlocked the window and I removed the [00:24:00] ACE unit. And the window

Gene Valentino: you removed the AC unit,

Ryan Blackwell: the unit, it was a floor unit that had a hose that ducked out of the window.

So it wasn’t an impossible task to do as far as removing that portion of it. Being that it was an older building, the windows weren’t like super well sealed. Sealed or to put push up uhhuh, you know. So as I unlocked it and I removed that a the AC unit part that was ducted outta the window, it slid down.

And so there’s just a little lip and I’m, I was trying to get my fingers under and I couldn’t use my right arm. I’m right hand dominant, you know, I’m using my left hand and I’m trying to all my might to get this window up. And it was like that moment in time, I thought I was going to get shot again because I was taking too long to get the window open.

And like in, in my head, like when I had jumped up, I, I told myself I’m fast. Like, I just told you like, I’m fast. I can get it. I’m fast. And then, so like I got to the window and then I started like, I wasn’t panicking. I stayed calm, cool and collect, but I was just. I feel like I was taking too long, so I started ushering for help from [00:25:00] the other two, and then they had came over, and between the three of us, we were able to get the window lifted, and it was about a seven foot drop, give or take, into some bushes.

We were on an elevated first level, so we were able to kind of get up and over the window. I exited the office first, and I landed in the bushes, and St. Thomas had then helped lower Airman Johnson down to me. And then she had exited the building. And so that was kind of like our first hurdle that we had gotten through, but it wasn’t the last one, needless to say.

But we had, we were able to get ourselves out of, out of that situation and then start to look for what, what needs to happen.

Gene Valentino: All right. Time out for those just joining us. We’re with Ryan Blackwell. And every time I hear the story, it gets more emotional to me and more profound in the way Ryan explains it.

Ryan Blackwell is a Purple Heart recipient. Ryan Blackwell was there at 5. 30 in the morning when the action started, not too long later. [00:26:00] And now you’ve just popped out of the window, the three of you, maybe 15, 20 minutes has gone by. You don’t know what happened to the assailant. You don’t know if he’s dead or not.


Ryan Blackwell: Right, so we, How everything unfolded kind of with my story was like, once we had exited the building there was no first responders that were there. There was no security. It had just happened and it continued to go on for 15 more minutes. So within that, I was at the start of the 15 minutes.

So I had, I was able to remove remove us from the office and with, with the help of my, my, my office mates, we were able to like, you know do what we were supposed to do and get out of there. As, as, as like we lean in the bushes, there’s a building about 110 yards across the street, and it’s it’s called the Navy Yard Eatery, and it was right next to the library, and it was known for having, you know, like breakfast items or lunch items, and it was like a little hot food bar where you could go, and they had a staff, a kitchen staff.


Gene Valentino: how far away was that? About

Ryan Blackwell: 110 yards. So it was a [00:27:00] direct, you know, directly across from where I was at. So I, I see like two gentlemen that are sitting outside those staircase that goes into that building right when I would exit the office and I, I told you know, Airman Johnson, he Airman Prince Johnson had gotten up when I, we all gotten up and I took him, I put his arm around my shoulder and he had his right, his leg was broken.

I put my right arm on top of my head to keep elevating it, to kind of get it out of my way too. So it was just dangling, and I helped, and we ushered ourselves over to that building, and then

Gene Valentino: So he’s helping you hold your arm?

Ryan Blackwell: No, I’m helping hold him up, and I’m holding my own arm up on top of my head.

So I have my arm like this on top of my head Hold on, hold on.

Gene Valentino: Your fitness going back to your wrestling days from college must have something to do with your ability, your stamina. You’ve got six bullets inside you. You jumped out of a window, I wouldn’t say two stories, but it was more than one story. It was an elevated seven feet.

You’re now working with Airman Johnson [00:28:00] to go over a hundred yards away to the concessionary mess hall type of hallway. What happened to John to Ensign Thomas?

Ryan Blackwell: So as we departed, she saw I think a base security that was at the chapel. And so she had made a, she had, she didn’t come with us, she went to the chapel.

So that’s where we had gotten separated. And I took in, I, I just knew that I needed to start first aid. I knew, I knew that the gunshot wounds I had sustained were, weren’t weren’t good. I didn’t know the extent of any of them. I just knew I needed to start first aid. I needed to get help and I didn’t need to be in that spot because that was a bad spot to be at.

Right. So I needed to get out of there. I needed to get cover. I needed to get help. And so as we made this this trek across this like lawn, To this other building. As soon as we get inside of the building, I’m, I mean, I’m telling these guys, active shooter, active shooter, we get inside the building and it’s all glass windows in their lobby area.

And as soon as we enter the building Aaron Prince Johnson falls on the floor to my left. So we enter the building, he just falls on the floor and I just told him, active shooter. [00:29:00] I said, where’s the back door? I said, you need to secure this. You need to secure this building and get outta the lobby, is what I told ’em, because it was all glass windows.

I said, where’s the back door? And then they said, come to the kitchen. So we get to the kitchen. And I told him, I said, get some towels. I said, get them up, get towels, start pressuring his wounds. He’s like, what I told him to do. And I said, I need to catch my breath. Is what I told him. And I was like I’m gonna call my wife.

So I called my wife real quick as soon as I got over there and I just told her, I said you know, Carly, I’ve, you know, I’ve been shot. Carly. Carly, yes sir, yep, I told her, I said, I’ve been shot I’m trying to get myself to the hospital, I just wanted to tell you. Did she

Gene Valentino: think you were joking, too? She didn’t

Ryan Blackwell: think I was serious at first because of just how calm I was, like, telling her and I was just trying to just like, Let her know, I told her, I told her I loved her, and I told her to call my family and tell my love, and I’d be in touch.

Gene Valentino: I want to come back to Carly’s point of view on this at some point, but keep going.

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah, so I’d hung up the phone after that, and we had started, and then I got back on my phone and called Captain Whitlock, and I told him, I said I said, Sir, we need a ride. I’m at the Navy Yard Eatery, [00:30:00] and he said, I’m on my way, and he was already on base.

Gene Valentino: He was already on base,

Ryan Blackwell: and He said, I’m on my way. And I just remember telling him, I was like, you can’t come down, you know, the, the main drag, you got to come on the back. We’ll be on the backside of this building waiting for you. And so he’s like, Roger that, you know, and and on, on. So he continues.

And I, I’m, I get off the phone with him and I’m kind of navigating myself through the building. I’m like, where’s the back door? You know, I know we need to get, we need to, I got my ride coming in, coming to the back of this building. Like, where’s the back door at? And as I’m walking, I kind of start to black out a little bit.

Like I lose my vision. And it’s due to the rapid blood loss that I have. And, and mind you, I only think I got shot twice. I don’t know. I got shot six times yet. So I’m thinking the immediate resolution is my arm. I thought that was the big deal, right? And so I’d sat down, elevated my feet and I’m like trying to like hyperventilate, you know, like to get oxygen back in my blood.

And then my vision starts to come back. And I remember seeing my boot laces and I told the office the kitchen staff there, I said, Hey, [00:31:00] Get a knife, I’m going to cut my laces out. Now, I’m glad I didn’t do that because shoestring isn’t the best thing to use for a tourniquet. So as I was kind of like making that statement to them about the cut my shoestrings out.

I had remembered I had my belt and I said oh, I got my belt. Help me get my belt off. And so I had made a tourniquet on my arm with my belt.

Gene Valentino: This is before Whitlock

Ryan Blackwell: arrives. As I get off the phone and waiting for him to get there. I had, I had,

Gene Valentino: with Johnson at your side with

Ryan Blackwell: Johnson there, they’re, they’re pressuring his wounds and I’m making a tourniquet on my own arm with my belt.

Gene Valentino: Okay. We’re approaching about 30 minutes into this ordeal now.

Ryan Blackwell: No, this is quick. So the whole thing my whole story is 27 minutes long. So this, everything was like kind of

Gene Valentino: rapid

Ryan Blackwell: fire here. Yeah, it was quick. It was, it was, it was quick. And it, time seems like it was like longer, but everything happened quick, you know?

So as, as I’m like making the tourniquet and we’re going to get out of the building Captain Whitlock shows up and we put Airman Apprentice Johnson in the back seat and I walk around to [00:32:00] the front and Captain Whitlock can then transports us to the front gate. And he calls 9 1 1 and lets them know, like, I’m transporting two wounded airmen, two wounded sailors.

And they said the ambulance will be at the front gate. Get them to the front gate.

Gene Valentino: Was the ambulance at the front gate?

Ryan Blackwell: They weren’t. It was it was such a chaotic situation as you could imagine, you know, and especially with that early morning rush hour traffic for everybody going to work, it was hard to get the the ambulance and all that through that traffic.

And I just remember as we pulled up, they said it was going to be like a 20 minute wait for the ambulance. And that wasn’t going to, that wasn’t something that we could do. And so we had gotten out of the car and I remember Captain Whitlock saying, like, can one of you guys talking to the deputies, the Escambia County Sheriff’s office.

Correct. Can you transport or I’ll take them. And then, so like we’re still, we’re trying to find a ride and they’re like, no, at first or whatever. And then so Captain Whitlock gets out, I get out We get Airman Johnson out and put him in the back of the pickup truck. And then [00:33:00] the, one of the police, the deputies comes over and starts triaging you know, helping sustain his injuries and stop the, the blood loss on him.

And I’m just going around trying to find a ride, you know, I’m just telling I need a ride, I need a ride. And then a sheriff comes up deputy Robert Green. And Escambia County office, deputy Robert Green comes up and he tells me. You’re not going to die on my watch. Get in the back of my cruiser.

Gene Valentino: You’re not going to die on my watch.

Ryan Blackwell: He said, get in the back of my cruiser. And yeah, so like I, I, what happened to Johnson? He, that’s where we had departed from there. So like he ended up he was getting worked on in the back of the pickup truck. And then I had, so once he was getting taken care of, I had started walking around trying to find us or find a ride.

And then that’s when the deputy green had told me, you know, it was going to transport me. And he said, get in the back of his his

Gene Valentino: cruiser. Did you call your wife yet?

Ryan Blackwell: Not yet. So like I had opened the door to get into the back of the cruiser and there was another base security officer that was [00:34:00] in the back seat and he had been shot in the leg and he had he was experiencing rapid blood loss on his leg in the back seat of the cruiser.

So as I entered the car I entered, I entered from the passenger side on the back. I, I noticed his leg was bleeding pretty bad. And so I put my left elbow in his leg to stop his leg from bleeding. Wait a minute. You

Gene Valentino: put your left elbow into his leg?

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. So, I, it Did it work?

Gene Valentino: Did it

Ryan Blackwell: It worked, yeah.

And it was it was like one of the things I told him, I was like, I’ll help you, you help me. I

Gene Valentino: thought you’re, you were encumbered with a big with a shot in the arm, not to mention the rest of your body.

Ryan Blackwell: Right, so my, my left arm was fine, my right arm was banged up, so I was able to put my left elbow in his leg, and I still had my right arm elevated, and I had my belt kind of levered around the back of my neck so I could pull hard.

As a tourniquet. As a tourniquet, and I just kind of created a lever system just here and levered it around the back of my neck, and I just, I was leaning on him with my left elbow, and I just told him pull on my belt, because I had to let go with my left hand of my belt, and I couldn’t pull on it, because I was I’m going to plug in his leg and I just told him, I said, dude, [00:35:00] just keep pulling on this belt and I said, I’m going to plug your leg and just keep pulling on this belt.

And then as we were rolling, I just remember I called my wife while I was in the cruiser. I did. Yep. And she didn’t answer cause she was calling my wife my mom. So that’s how fast all this went down was like it’s like I called her and then I remember like as we were rolling down the road, Deputy Green had just said, we got him.

He just, that’s what he said. He’s like, we got him. So you’re on route

Gene Valentino: to Baptist Hospital.

Ryan Blackwell: To Baptist. And

Gene Valentino: he, you’re in the backseat of his car.

Ryan Blackwell: With deputy, with with another base security officer.

Gene Valentino: So the other base security officer was assisting you.

Ryan Blackwell: We were, yeah, we were helping each other. So I was plugging his leg and he was pulling on my belt.

Gene Valentino: Okay.

Ryan Blackwell: And and then like, as we were rolling, like we’re doing that in the backseat, Deputy Green is just flying down the highway to get us to the hospital. And he just comes across the, the dispatch that you know, the threat had been neutralized and he just told us that we got him. And the first thing that came to my mind, I just said was it a Saudi flight student?

And he said, yes. And then it [00:36:00] just like, it confirmed that it, they didn’t even have to show me or tell me I did it like for some reason, like seeing that guy smile at me that morning. And then just like, I never saw who shot me. I never saw any of that, but for some reason that it was just like, I like, I had the inclination that.

Something was about to happen before it happened, you know what I mean?

Gene Valentino: Well, the news report showed two bullet holes in the head and one to one shoulder and one to the other shoulder. Let’s talk about how he was actually taken down. But was the shot of the of the dead body the person that said hello to you that morning?

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah, so that that was the gentleman that was the guy that that did say that did that did, that did take You know, take lives that day and wound a lot of others, you know, and kind of like during that ordeal, the SWAT team had came in and had neutralized them. So like right, right, whenever that had happened and, and, and, you know, mind you, a lot of this stuff I know a lot of knowledge on the topic now, just cause it’s been almost five years now, but at that general [00:37:00] time I was just focused on What I needed to do to get healthy, right?

And so like I need to get to a hospital first, you know? So like as we’re like kind of rolling, he tells us we got him. I remember calling my father, who’s a retired Navy chief as well. He’s served 22 years as a corpsman. So, you know, he was green side for

Gene Valentino: service.

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah. So like I gave him a call and I just told him I told him what had happened.

And then like, right when I called him, , we were pulling in the Baptist. So like the whole time this is going on, I’m making these phone calls. The moment I call Captain Whitlock, right? When I tell him I have an active shooter to the moment I call my dad, arriving at the hospital, six forty six was the first call I logged.

Seven 13 was the last call I logged. So 27 minutes was the duration of the time that it took me to get myself from the moment I got shot to the hospital.

Gene Valentino: Okay, time out right there. Let’s talk about the hospital chapter in just a second. But before we get there, the active shooter terrorist was neutralized.

But three active Navy [00:38:00] military guys were dead that day. Talk about others who died. Yeah, we had, So when you heard that other gunfire, there’s a pretty strong logical assumption that those bullets were deadly on that, on those on those rounds.

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah, once you, You can’t, you can’t tell bullets to come back once they leave a gun.

You know, it’s gonna, it’s gonna go to where the, the intention of where it’s being directed, right? Yeah. We did, yeah, we lost three lives that day.

Gene Valentino: Three military active, active

Ryan Blackwell: duty. one officer, two enlisted personnel. The officer was the captain of the rifle team. Vincent Watson was the captain of the na a r him at the Naval Academy Expert marksmanship Ah-huh unarmed.

He, he wasn’t, he wasn’t equipped with a weapon that morning, and he was the officer of the watch. We had the two other enlisted personnels was Hatham and Cameron Walters. Those, those two guys were young boys in the Navy. Just, you know, fresh, fresh into it. Recent, you know, high school graduates, you know, just starting their [00:39:00] careers.

Starting the career

Gene Valentino: in Pensacola.

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah.

Gene Valentino: Life is tragic. And then you had, then you had about eight others, right?

Ryan Blackwell: We did, there was a total of 11. We had we had the three in my office that were all wounded, including myself, counting three. There was another, another military personnel that was that was wounded.

She was on the second deck of the building. And then there was a a retired GS position worker, government position worker she, she had she has a really remarkable story of overcoming and her testimony is super powerful, what she experienced that day as well. So her, her, and then we had three deputies and two deputies and one of the base security officers that were wounded as well.

So, you know, totaling 11. 11 lives that were immediately impacted and not to count how that branches off to the families and loved ones of those that were lost, you know, and the lives that were never lived, you know, so there was, there was more,

Gene Valentino: so it’s you plus seven others that survived.

Ryan Blackwell: Correct.

There’s eight of us, or there’s there’s 11 in total. Eight [00:40:00] of us were able to mend from our,

Gene Valentino: and three Navy military active duty.

Ryan Blackwell: Oh, one officer and two enlisted.

Gene Valentino: Correct. Yeah, even the the three lives that were lost, they, their stories are powerful in themselves of

Ryan Blackwell: what they, what they were able to do in, in, in their last moments, you know, and, and kind of like as we’re talking about true leadership and, and you know what it means to be an officer in our military, you know, and what Anson Watson was able to do, you know after receiving gunshot wounds was a truly remarkable feat in itself too.

And he was able to kind of sound the alarm and, you know you know Haytham when as he came in, he, he’s the one who confronted the shooter. So he, he came into the building and confronted the shooter, you know, and

Gene Valentino: Who, who [00:41:00] shot the shooter?

Ryan Blackwell: The SWAT team did. They were Escambia County SWAT team. They can’t be county SWAT team Now.


Gene Valentino: on. So within 27 minutes, you’re being informed by a deputy in the front sheet seat on your way to the hospital that the shooter’s been neutralized.

Ryan Blackwell: Craig is about 15 minutes in, so we’re about halfway through our trip to get to the Baptist. And he had, he has notifies us to the. The duration of events of as far as how much of, you know, hate and content was brought about, it lasted 15 minutes.

From, you know, that moment where the three lives were lost to where they they were able to.

Gene Valentino: And the Escambia County SWAT team was on site within 15 minutes.

Ryan Blackwell: They, they, yes sir, they they responded, you know, and it did as if they were trained to and they you know, they came in there and went to work and.

That took care of the problem.

Gene Valentino: Well, we should certainly commend your heroism, but I, I’d be at fault and remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the Escambia County SWAT team.

Ryan Blackwell: 100%. They really neutralized.

Gene Valentino: They probably saved [00:42:00] additional lives. Lives that in addition to what you saved. No, they did. Sometimes the true heroes are unsung and go off unnoticed.

We want to make sure we acknowledge everybody. So, we’re 27 minutes in. The deputy of Escambia County has you in the front seat. You’re in the back seat with A base security officer. A base security officer who you were helping with his wound as he was helping with yours. Correct. You leave the, you, you come on to Baptist Hospital.

I’m guessing at that hour in the morning there must have been a shift change.

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. So that, that morning, like it was a 713 arrival and they had they had just experienced a shift change. So to our benefit, there was double the nurses and double of the doctors. You know, and how, how that, you know, was able to play out that day, you know, of all days, right.

That was that was, that was super helpful. And, you know, we, we pull up and I just, as soon as we pulled under the little overpass, I opened the door and I got out and I walked in the [00:43:00] hospital. And they were just, I remember they were just looking at me and they were just telling me to I had to lay down on one of the gurneys and I was just telling them, like, I had a, I had a gunshot in the back of my leg, you know, I, I can’t sit.

You know, I wasn’t being combative or anything like that. I was just kind of, I just walked in and they were just, I think they were just amazed that I walked in and, Wait a minute.

Gene Valentino: Almost a half hour now has gone by. You’re walking into a hospital with the six bullets in you.

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah, I just, I was running on a cocktail of adrenaline and whatever else, you know.

It must have been a cocktail of

Gene Valentino: something because I don’t know how you, I, I, I commend you, sir, for, for being, the stamina and the training speaks for itself. Keep going.

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah, so as I walked in, you know, I ended up wheeling me into a room with, it’s kind of like how Hollywood depicts it as far as the metal slab and you know, the table.

And they, they set me on and they just cut all my clothes off and, they just start kind of like counting, like I got one here, I got one here. And I was like, I got shot twice. And then they’re like, it just kept like an echo. Like I got one here, I got [00:44:00] one here. And then I was like, ah, I don’t have my, I don’t have my wallet.

Cause I left it at the office. I was like I’m allergic to this. You know what I mean? This is my DOD. Here’s my social. Like I didn’t know what information they needed from me, but I’m trying to tell them all this stuff and, and cause they have no way of knowing it if I don’t tell them, you know, and then they’re kind of.

Looking me over, then they say, okay, we need a CT scan right now. And they rolled me into a CT scan. I remember one of the technicians was just telling me everything’s going to be all right. And that went through there and then rolled into ICU. And, you know, I found out.

Gene Valentino: Did you see your wife before you went into ICU?

Ryan Blackwell: So I was, I went to ICU prior to, cause I had to wait for the results of the CT scan. So they were able to it seemed like forever that I was in there, but that also happened pretty fast too. So. So, I had called her, she was on her way already to the hospital, and then once I got in the ICU, that’s where I found out I got shot six times, and my wife had come, well actually I didn’t know I had had six yet I just remember there was a lot, and then I had the CT scans, and I was going to confirm kind of what had, like, how this had went.[00:45:00]

So I’m sitting there, and I start to think, like, man I was supposed to leave work today at, like, twelve, and I Go meet with the high school wrestling team and I’m coaching their first tournament of the season. They’re, they’re waiting for me at Tiger point, Walmart, and I’m sitting in ICU right now.

I was like, so I better, I was like, I better call, I better call a coach. My buddy, Austin Ellie, I was like, I better call him and you know, like tell him I’m not going to be able to make the match, you know? And good luck.

Gene Valentino: So you, so Austin got the news from you about what just happened, correct?

Was he. Bewildered. Did he believe it really happened or were you pulling his leg? He was,

Ryan Blackwell: it was, I think just the way I was able to just to stay calm, cool, and collect throughout the whole duration and really just focus on the task at hand, not necessarily this, like I don’t know. I just, I just knew like, as I, any, anytime I was communicating, anything was clear, you know, and it wasn’t, it was, it wasn’t rattled or had a high, High frequency to it, you [00:46:00] know, it was just kind of even killed.

And then I think that kind of bamboozled him a little bit as much as it did my wife or anybody else. And I told him, you know, what had, had happened just because of most, most time you would think a different reaction, right?

Gene Valentino: We bumped into Austin Elliott before we started our program today. And so we’re going to break away here and hear a few direct comments from Austin Elliott, his buddy, his Marine buddy.

who worked with him over the years and now in his wellness fitness operation, but prior to that they were buddies working together. Listen to what Austin has to say. Hi friends, welcome back to another episode of Gene Valentino’s Grassroots Truthcast. We’re with Austin Elliott,

I really appreciate it. You and Ryan go back some time.

Austin Elliot: We do a few years, a little bit before the incident. But yeah we go back.

Gene Valentino: It’s always nice to hear someone talk about the story, but it’s also nice to hear it from someone else’s point of view too. What happened on that day,

From your point of view?

Austin Elliot: [00:47:00] From my point of view that morning, we were getting ready Ryan Blackwell is an assistant coach at our high school for wrestling. And I coach there and With Ryan, he gives us a call prior to meeting at our meet point with the team, and he tells me that he won’t be able to make it. As a matter of fact, calm as it was, I thought he was joking once he told me that he was involved in a shooting, and told me it was pretty messed up, and he sounded sounded like everything was going to be okay, and he told us to, the team, good luck.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. He’ll talk to us after.

Gene Valentino: That was December 6th of Friday. What time of the day?

Austin Elliot: That was early morning. I don’t necessarily recall that time. It was maybe like six something he may or seven. He called me 7 30. We were meeting at the, at the local Walmart. Like I said and I was in route to meet the team.

Gene Valentino: The team are the kids what 8 to 18 years of age in, in your wellness fitness program?

Austin Elliot: In, in that program that it is on the team that we were at was with the high school team. So it’s freshmen through senior. But that was a tough situation when I [00:48:00] got there and knowing that I had to take the team and kind of notify some of the other coaches of what had happened and that Ryan wouldn’t be with us.

So that day our team wrestled for him. Knowing that he was in ICU and getting taken care of, so.

Gene Valentino: So, you met up with him when he got out and you watched his recovery for the six months thereafter.

Austin Elliot: You, you know his recovery was rough and it, it actually ended up a lot better than we than I anticipated, knowing how he was condition wise.

His spirits are nothing but we’re up there, but, day in, day out I would check on him and it was kind of my duty just as to be like a big brother and I kind of promised his father that, you know, I’m local so I would take care of it, you know, and the best I could.

Gene Valentino: Well, we’ve heard from Ryan that it’s it was a long copious process for recovery, but boy I’m glad he’s with us today and I’m glad you’re here to share that part of the story.

Right. Any comments on that?

Austin Elliot: No, you know, what, what I thought would, I’d become a big brother. I’m really just a follower of his now. [00:49:00] Yeah. Without getting, you know, emotional standup dude and he motivates me and it keeps me right. So it’s, it’s good stuff.

Gene Valentino: You know, you’re, I’m going to ask Ryan this question, but how many of the military as you see them today and NAS Pensacola is a good example of.

Of train, of a training environment where you’re looking for good leaders. How many leaders stood up that day to help come step up for Ryan, and how many were Impotent or incompetent or lackadaisical in their ability to respond to an immediate, what I’d call terrorist crisis here in Pensacola, Florida, on the N.

  1. S. Pensacola facility.

Austin Elliot: I think the leadership from a local area, maybe from a outside of a N. A. S. Pensacola with Escambia County our community in Gulf Breeze and the wrestling, the leadership in that it was outstanding. The leadership on how the whole [00:50:00] situation was handled in regards to not just Ryan Blackwell, but all the airmen and those that were involved.

I think I mean, lackluster. I mean, it was, it just wasn’t good. I mean, I’m, they could have done a lot better. There’s a lot of things that, you know

Gene Valentino: Well, thank you for participating in what we’re doing today because that’s why we’re doing it. We felt that more should come out on it because it was a lackluster response and a lackluster acknowledgement of a true American hero who’s done an awful lot to save other lives on that event on that day of December 6th, 2019.

Austin, Sergeant, thank you for joining us.

Austin Elliot: Appreciate you.

Gene Valentino: Welcome back to the Grassroots Truthcast and our special report today with Purple Heart recipient Ryan Blackwell. We’ve had the last 50 minutes of an exposé on someone who’s, in my eyes, a true hero, and is a reflection of the capability [00:51:00] and the efficiency and the, and the credit that’s due to the military for the good training, the good disciplines, the patriotism that allows all of us to forge forward and continue our mission.

In Ryan’s case, he did it with six bullets in him. And he ended up in the Baptist Hospital, and we’re now approaching the recovery phase in our documentary and special report with Ryan Blackwell. Hey, Superstar. Thank you for coming today. I appreciate your service. I appreciate your dad’s service. We had Austin Elliott on a minute ago.

I appreciate his service. He was on the Marine side. You Navy Marine guys, you’re still getting along okay?

Ryan Blackwell: We do. They use us for rides, you know, so.

Gene Valentino: They use you for rides. It works. Good balance. You carry the bags once in a while, huh? Well, in this case, someone was carrying your bags. I don’t know how you did it.

And so on that note, we [00:52:00] ended up at Baptist Hospital. Correct. You went into the emergency room and you were immediately treated and you got into an immediate CAT scan. You came out and now they know what you’ve got inside you and you had time to call your wife.

Ryan Blackwell: So, so correct. So like I went through the CAT scan.

I’m sitting in ICU now waiting for the results to come back. I made the call to Coach Austin and then I had I was like, Hey, where’s my wife at? And then they said, Oh, she’s in the lobby. So they brought her back into the room to see me. And you know, there was no cleanup effort as far as we’re, I’m getting ready to go into surgery.

So there’s blood all over me and she gets to see really like It’s like how I looked, you know, it was no cleaning up any of a mess. It was, you know, I had the arm on my head, there’s blood all down my head, my face, like they were worried. I got shot in my head because I had so much blood all over me.

Gene Valentino: It’s because you were holding your arm. Cause I was elevating

Ryan Blackwell: my arm up and you know, then we’re just kind of sitting there and then I I ended up like, you know, made a couple other phone calls as I was waiting and called, you know, call my buddy, Kevin Lace, and let him kind of know what was going on.

I, you know, we had a funny interaction as far as [00:53:00] Is there anything you need? You know, and you, you would think like yeah, man, I need some clothes. You know, they just take everything I have. Now, wait a minute. Now you’re

Gene Valentino: talking with Kevin Lace. He’s the author of American Sniper.

Ryan Blackwell: No, he is author of The Last Punisher.

He’s Chris Kyle’s buddy. Who’s the American Sniper?

Gene Valentino: American Sniper. He’s the author of Last Punisher, but he wasn’t Lace in the Navy SEAL?

Ryan Blackwell: He was also, correct. He was a team guy. And you know, since then he’s, you know, a motivational speaker and a, And a father and a husband and, you know, a physician’s assistant.

And I mean, he has a lot of different accolades to his name, but I mean, he’s a he’s a veteran, he’s a patriot, and he was a guy in a time of crisis that responded as well.

Gene Valentino: And typical of most that don’t wear these episodes on their sleeve. It’s not like you’re on some talking circuit going through this, ladies and gentlemen.

We had to reach out and find this story. The problem I have is there are so many wonderful patriots, true [00:54:00] heroes, that have served and are serving in our nation’s military, all, all branches of service. And we, we find out when they come out of service that they’re the most humble, discreet, and they’re the farthest thing from being outspoken about some of these issues.

Gene Valentino’s Grassroots Podcast. He tells the truth. He tries to get information out there to make sure people make good informed decisions.

Gene Valentino: Some have taken these issues and these stories to the grave and not spoken to anything, anybody about them. I’m glad you’re here with us today, Ryan Blackwell, to explain this to us and to maybe remind folks thinking of the military. of the importance, the standards, the discipline, and the honor it is to serve.

And that you’ve, you, that’s the purpose of today’s event, as much as it is about your event in particular, and honoring you [00:55:00] for this for what you’ve been through, that has unfortunately, in most eyes, gone unnoticed. I’ve heard an awful lot about 9 11. I haven’t heard much since December 6th, 2019.

about the terrorist event that day. And I’m, and I’d like to circle back on some of those thoughts and your observations and reflections as we close. Before we get there, let’s continue the discussion with your in the hospital.

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah. So so me and my wife are in the ICU and then the surgeon and a chaplain comes in and then they they tell me that I’m going to need the chaplain from the base from my command.

And then the surgeon who’s going to perform surgery on me, they they come to my, my room and they the surgeon tells me that we’re going to need to have emergency surgery. The bullets ricocheted through my body. They severed my large intestine and I was going to have a colostomy bag. And so I’m kind of taking that all in real quick.

And I just asked him, I said, what’s a colostomy bag? And he’s like, we’re going to divert your large intestine [00:56:00] out of your stomach and that’s how you’re going to go to the bathroom. And we don’t know if that’s going to be permanent or if it’s going to be temporary. We’ll have to, you know, wait and see what happens over time.

And they know they just said a prairie, they prayed with me and they wheeled me into the OR and I just yeah, I ended up coming out and I had right. How long

Gene Valentino: was the surgery?

Ryan Blackwell: I’m not sure how long it was. I know I got like three blood transfusions while I was in there. They rolled me after, you know, I was in I was in ICU for a little bit.

I had my right arm my right nerve my median nerve and my right arm at median nerve paralysis. So I’m still dealing with that today, but it’s gotten a lot better with just some treatments and remedies that I’ve kind of underwent in the last five years of my recovery. The colostomy bag I had for four months and then I was able to get it reversed and Very

Gene Valentino: good.

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah, it was a very humbling experience as far as I was kind of being a prisoner of my own body, you know, and being somebody that kind of, you know, a college athlete, you know, and

Gene Valentino: six months of recovery,

Ryan Blackwell: it was six months of just that initial shock, you know, all [00:57:00] recovery. And then, I mean, it doesn’t the mental impression and lingering, you know, the lingering wounds, you know what I mean?

That you get over time or the spasms or this or that, you know especially with some that’s neurological. Some of those, it’s like electrical impulses that you feel all the time. Some days they’re a little bit more stimulated than others, you know? So there, there was just like a constant humbling experience every day, but I feel like it was something that I was the right guy for the job for in a sense of being able to make my way being comfortable, uncomfortable, you know, and that was kind of what I had to do.

Yeah, going, going through So, going through like, once I had gotten home and I’m starting to try to get on the mend of things, you know, for the first two months I couldn’t sleep. I had a, I had a hospital chair you know, it was donated to me because I had to sleep in a chair. And so I just like kind of started reflecting on the experience and like kind of how fragile life was and just like something that just really tugged at me was like my impact, my legacy, and I didn’t have no kids.

Gene Valentino: You were newly married, right?

Ryan Blackwell: I was newly married that [00:58:00] March, march

Gene Valentino: 14th. Before December 2019. Yep.

Ryan Blackwell: March 14th, 2019. We got married. And you know, shortly after that like Carly now becomes like a home nurse for me. You know, we’re just kind of talking about life and this and that. And you know, and I have a daughter now, Raina.

So, so that’s, that’s the, you know, that kind of takes care of all those. That’s my, my impact to the world. That’s my legacy that that’s everything. But even outside of that, when I start looking at what, what can I do more. Just want a sense of giving back is kind of like what has really ever come. I feel like my ego has left the building when you go through something like that and you kind of start looking at things from a different perspective.

And I was like, how was I able to pull this off? I was eight feet away. I got shot six times. My intestines were leaking out. I had to get three blood transfusions. I had to go on for 27 minutes like this. Like, how was I able to do that? And the only thing that I could think of outside of God himself was that I was Walter.

And that I had just different life experiences that made me well trained. And, you know, and it kind of dates back to when I was in my [00:59:00] amateur career of wrestling in high school. And I was winning my state titles in high school. Me and my dad used to joke about like our home garage jam. We call it well trained, you know, when it’d be cool to have something big like that.

So that always kind of stuck in my brain, but now like going through this event, it really created more meaning and value to it. And being Blackwell is my last name. Well trained has had a good play on words. And So I was like, all right, you know what? I’m going to start making a website. I’m going to pass some of my time, do something productive.

And well trained end up turning into a youth wrestling facility that’s located in Gulf Breeze, Florida, where we impact kids from three years old, all the way to your college graduates. We help kids get college scholarships. We really try to create that impact, you know, and You’ve

Gene Valentino: even, you’ve even assisted Amateur and pro wrestlers pro fighters, boxers for, for their tune up, if you will.

Ryan Blackwell: Correct. Yeah. Wrestling’s a big kind of a big skillset to want to have in the mixed martial arts game, you know, and even just having some basic knowledge of it will help you in positions. And, and we do work a lot with those guys as well. So just really trying to [01:00:00] just like give back to what gave so much to me and that was wrestling.

And that’s really, I like what molded my mindset, you know, and then from there I had other life experiences. I was an ocean lifeguard, You know, I went through some rigorous training throughout the military. And so there was a lot of different things that just compounded on top of each other, compounded on top of each other.

And on that day it, it provided me what I needed to do, you know, a clear mind and you know, I was able to kind of execute what I needed to do.

Gene Valentino: Well, on, on those kinds of days, you find the sincere elected officials also stepping up to, I remember Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott. Being at your bedside right after the operation?

They did.

Ryan Blackwell: They did. And it was kind of humbling experience as well, having, having those guys come. Just

Gene Valentino: what’d you think? What did they did they renew your, your patriotism? Did they renew your, you must have had some depressing moments. Some, depression issues that were consuming you in the six months after the hospital?

Ryan Blackwell: I think the, the [01:01:00] biggest thing was like I just had a key word and I would just tell myself every day and it was beat yesterday. So that kind of helped me not feel sad. Like I was, I didn’t like experience a survivor’s guilt or any of that. I was more like upset that I, like, that somebody tried to take my life and I wanted like revenge.

That’s like, that’s where I kind of went. And I was still in like fighter, fighter freeze. I was still in fight mode it seemed like. Like I was still, and then being a competitor and you know wrestling at the NCAA level, you know, Division II athlete at University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Yeah, it really kinda it motivated me, you know what I mean, to wanna This guy tried to take me off the face of this earth, you know, so every day that I do something, every day that I create an impact, every day that I help somebody else is a day that I win and a day that that guy loses and his mission is never accomplished, you know, so that’s kind of how I started to look at it in, in a sense of that impact and that legacy.

What do I want that to be? You know, what do I want that to be at 27 years old when I got shot? I don’t know what my impact or my legacy would have been after that, [01:02:00] you know, but now that as I move forward, we have the business and I have my family and we just created the Ryan Blackwell Foundation to help promote health, wellness, leisure and recreation.

Yeah. Explain

Gene Valentino: that in more detail. Go ahead.

Ryan Blackwell: So that kind of as we’re, you know, with my recovery, the biggest thing that helped with my mental fortitude through the recovery was getting in shape. Creating outlets for myself as far as like if it was other veterans that I would tag along with me, whether it was like equine therapy, a fishing trip, going to a national park, just getting outside, being active, being able to talk about your experiences.

And that really kind of helped me combat the real battlefield that I had going inside, which was my mind. And it wasn’t the fact of the sorrow. It was the anger. And I didn’t want that to ever portray to my family or to my friends. So I wanted to get that in check. And I was able to do that with those outlets.

So with the Ryan Blackwell Foundation, our goal is to promote health, wellness, leisure, and recreational opportunities. And it’s not just for vets that are experiencing trauma. It’s for youth, veterans, and members of the community. So So, whether we’re putting on a wrestling tournament for the local youth [01:03:00] kids, or if we’re helping out with the triathlons that happen in the community or other different fitness or recreational outlets, whether it’s a golf outing or equine therapy visit, I want to be able to have a platform to provide those opportunities to those in need.

And that is what kind of got me through that recovery of not really reflecting on this guy’s mission, but more so, like, I guess I took more of how I responded versus how I reacted, you know, and the difference between those being is how you respond to something is what’s muscle memory to you, how you react to something is what’s impulse and emotion, you know?

That’s right. And so being able to respond the way that I did it just really kind of capsulate just as, as whole of who I am as a human being, you know, and, and some of us may never find out what we’re, what we’re capable of, you know, to our full potential or what that means, but on. On that day, on December 6th, you know, knowing that December 7th wasn’t an option if I didn’t get through the next 27 minutes of my life and do the right things, you know that really put things into perspective for [01:04:00] me.

You know, it makes me thankful. I’m very grateful. I’m grateful for any opportunity, any experiences that I, that I may get, good or bad, because I know they build me as a human being.

Gene Valentino: So that, that’s how you’re, you are managing. , your, your wellness, right? And you’re giving back to the community means awful lot.

The foundation and the website, again, people can go to, to contribute. So

Ryan Blackwell: our, our foundation website is Ryan Blackwell Foundation. Okay. And if you you know, with our wrestling where we do different things like that where we, we travel and we can help we do like little seminars for other wrestling programs across the country.

That’s well-trained Mm-Hmm. . We actually have a big camp, you know, coming up here this summer where we’re bringing in, top tier clinicians and it’s something really special for the kids. So we’re just trying to you know, just keep keep moving forward, keep, keep keep positive, you know, keep, keep spreading, spreading positivity and helping, helping kids out, helping anybody out really.

Gene Valentino: Okay. So Ryan didn’t bring it up, but I’m going to, [01:05:00] you were discharged from service Honorably. Because of your medical condition, but the medical condition you were discharged for was an incident long before the shooting on December 6th, 2019. The real issue to me is that while you’re proud to be an American, a patriot, and in this case a hero, a recipient of the Purple Heart, you were denied benefits based on the events of that day.

The military in its reckless bureaucracy, and you correct me if I’m misspeaking, because this is my opinion. The military in their reckless bureaucracy ended up trying to label you with benefits or disability based on a prior smaller incident that that had happened that was truly not as egregious as what you went through.

And [01:06:00] so, as a result, it doesn’t reflect the six shots you took to your body for which you’re now being recognized for. But you should have been. And you should have been by the bureaucracy of the military as well. And I think we need to establish a writing campaign to reverse the benefits settlement that was offered you You were in the midst of so much emotion at the time, ah, give me the damn thing, I’ll take it and get out of there.

You wanted to move on with your life. Most of the world didn’t know just how much of a hero you were that day in saving lives. And most of the world doesn’t know that you were denied the medical benefits that you should have been awarded. Boy, if anyone in our listening, viewing audience has access to Tunnel to Towers, we need to get Frank Siller.

Online here and make sure he has an introduction to Ryan Blackwell. Ryan, you have, I [01:07:00] also found out something else that you haven’t mentioned. So John F. Kennedy was awarded the Purple Heart, but he was also awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the Medal of Heroism. So, no other military officer, no other military E3 has been awarded that.

designation since John F. Kennedy until Ryan Blackwell came along. He’s been decorated with these two honors and the same two honors given to our former president John F. Kennedy, a legend unto himself. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t step up now to make sure whether you want the honor and notoriety, that’s one thing.

That’s up to you. But we at least want you taken care of to the same standard other military heroes have. And it’s my commitment to help you get that.

Ryan Blackwell: Yeah. [01:08:00] The biggest thing, you know, I remember I had mentioned I was going through the med medical board for the wrist and that’s what’s putting with the international military training.

Yes. So that, that’s how I was going through my med board. And so. I had been found to be, I was going to be medically retired for my wrist fusion. There was a disqualifying factor for the aviation side of, that I was there for and.

Gene Valentino: Was that the issue or your wrist fusion? My wrist

Ryan Blackwell: fusion at, at first was the issue.

They had fused my wrist and I had, you know, I was earlier in the career, but regardless, so I got the, I signed and accepted the findings. And then I got shot right after that. So like, as I was going through my six months of convalescent and recovery, we were trying to get an addendum of the gunshot wounds onto the medical board.

And they told me that I couldn’t because I had already signed the medical board.

Gene Valentino: Oh, wait, wait a minute. So you were in transition, which NAS Pensacola in the first place. Correct. And then

Ryan Blackwell: I was on my transition to get out of the Navy. [01:09:00] And so as I was getting ready to get out, I got shot at like right when I was about to get out.

So I was still active duty. So then it made it that I don’t, I don’t know. It was just really just a calm, complex situation that could have maybe had a simple solution to it. Or maybe it was somebody that just didn’t know what to do or, or there’s a lot of other things, underlying issues going on. I’m not sure, but I do know that I got discharged for 2018 injuries, training related.

And I was told that I could get my gunshot wounds and all that later on there or something like that, that they couldn’t do an addendum. And so I proceeded to get discharged off my 2018 medical board findings, which, which still medically retired me, except I didn’t get medically retired for getting shot six times.

I got medically retired for having broken bones in my wrist. And so when you, you know, look at my, my discharge paperwork, it doesn’t reflect that my medical retirement is due to six gunshot wounds. In 2019, it’s because of a 2018 incident, so it’s almost like like the 2019 didn’t happen, you know, but it did happen [01:10:00] because I was awarded the Purple Heart due to it being a terrorist a terrorist attack, and I was awarded an Avian Medical an Avian Marine Corps Medal for Heroism based upon those actions but but outside of that it was, it was kind of like they, I don’t really think they knew what to do, to be honest, so it’s not that I, I hold really hard feelings towards anybody in a situation of, of that, you know cause that goes against what I’m doing right now to impact the world anyways, you know, so

Gene Valentino: well, the record shows that I brought it up.

No, no, no, no. It’s great. It’s

Ryan Blackwell: great. I appreciate that. But yeah, just the clear there though. Yeah, it was definitely it, it probably should have been, like you said, I should have been discharged based on what was recent. But just the way that it went and then improper Filing of paperwork or you know, not enough information had denied some of the medical benefits that I was warranted.

You know, putting a week of something instead of 30 days of something will definitely get it denied. Yeah. And just different things like that to where, you know, I’m, I’m focused on my recovery. And trying to, trying to heal from six [01:11:00] gunshot wounds. And you’re supposed to have the leadership on the backside that’s handling this four unit.

And, and let’s be honest, it wasn’t just me that the ball was dropped on there. There was a lot of, a lot of others that were, you know, affected as well. And you know, with the, the, the, it’s got to keep pressing forward.

Gene Valentino: So pressing forward, how’s Raina and Carly handling

Ryan Blackwell: all this? They’re good. You know, like my, my wife definitely had to I don’t want to say step up, but she definitely stepped up as far as just taking on roles that were just unbeknownst to her and just stuff like, you know, helping with my colostomy bags.

My right arm was paralyzed. I couldn’t use my right arm at the time. And or my fingers were barely functioning on my right arm. And so, I mean, now it’s kind of barely a little bit crooked, but I can move and they still tingle, but it’s getting better. But she had to help me with that stuff, you know, and then, you know, Fast forward a little bit, our daughter comes into the world and she turns three, you know, this year and, and, you know, now stepping up and being kind of like a stay at home mom, raising our daughter, you know, while I’m kind of like an entrepreneur running a business and you know, trying to, trying to make the world a better place.[01:12:00]

And so they’re, they’re definitely my beacon of light, you know, at the end of the day, they’re ones that drive me to do what I do and to continue to work hard.

Gene Valentino: And he’s keeping busy with his operation in Gulf breeze. Well. We’ve been talking for this last hour with Ryan Blackwell, Purple Heart recipient, and our Marine Corps and Navy Medal of Heroism recipient as well, just like former President John F.

Kennedy. Ryan, any closing comments or thoughts for the people?

Ryan Blackwell: I appreciate you having me on and I look forward to continuing to work together.

Gene Valentino: Well, working together we will. We’d like to look at all the other folks that have drifted off into their own worlds and gone back to their normal ways of life like [01:13:00] military is accustomed to do.

But we should not leave behind the story and what it means to us. Fast forward, folks, here we are in May of 2024, and we have Saudi Arabia who was right on the verge of having a good relationship in place with Israel. That relationship being breached by Iran backed Houthis and Hamas, causing 1, 300 people to be massacred last October 2023.

And since then, we have a a need to renew our friendship with the Saudis. The Saudis, like the Americans, have bad actors. And we need to clean house of those bad actors and develop good alliances worldwide, not only with Israel, but with the Saudis and the other major players in this world to save our republic, our constitutional republic here.

In the [01:14:00] United States of America. Ryan Blackwell was with me here today, helping me explain why it’s so important to do so. And thank you all for joining us for another episode on Gene Valentino’s Grassroots Truthcast. See you again [01:15:00] soon.

 Special Report ~ Ryan Blackwell ~ His Purple Heart Story

on the GrassRoots TruthCast with Gene Valentino

‣ Originally Recorded on May 15, 2024
GrassRoots TruthCast: Season 2, Episode 249
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