PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — A local hero who saved lives during a terrorist attack received a new car Wednesday afternoon.
Freedom Alliance, in partnership with U.S. Bank, presented the new car to Ryan Blackwell at Buick GMS Cadillac of Pensacola. A terrorist opened fire killing three Navy sailors and wounding eight people at Naval Air Station Pensacola on December 6, 2019.
Two and a half years later, he’s been given the key to a 2019 GMC Acadia as part of a program called Driven to Serve.
“Thank you to the dealership and the bank, Freedom Alliance and definitely the sheriff’s department,” said Blackwell. “They’re pretty much the reason I’m here today. I didn’t ride to the hospital in an ambulance. It was in the back of a squad car.”
Blackwell was shot six times using his body as a shield to protect others. He then directed his team to safety while on the phone calling for help.
“To have that presence of mind, to have that kind of courage, is unique and Ryan showed it in many many ways that day and people are alive today because of his intervention, because of his heroism,” said Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon.
Blackwell suffered not just physical injuries, but emotional trauma, not to mention financial stress.
“We’re hoping that this vehicle is just going to make things financially a little bit easier on his family and give them some comfort as they run their day-to-day errands,” said Kilgannon.
“I’m just thankful,” said Blackwell. “I thank you. I don’t expect anything so this is awesome.”
The happy and humble hero smiled at News 5 cameras as he drove his new set of wheels off the lot. He was joined by his wife and baby.