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Frontiers November 2013 Issue

A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE JOSEPH WHIPPLE Assembler, 787 program Safety lead Commercial Airplanes North Charleston, S.C. While serving as a gunner in the U.S. Army, providing convoy security in Iraq, my vehicle rolled over several times while avoiding a possible improvised explosive device. I was ejected and received life-threatening injuries. After a lengthy stay at an amputee ward, I was able to leave with both of my arms—they just didn’t work very well. I spent the next 20 months receiving extensive occupational and physical therapies to try and regain as much function as possible in my arms. Ultimately, all of the injuries I sustained (17 broken bones, and 15 surgeries to salvage my arms) were enough to force an early retirement from the Army. I spent the next two years readjusting to civilian life and working in my community with a nonprofit veterans organization. I also worked with the Wounded Warrior Project, trying to spread awareness and gain support. I applied for a position with Boeing in March of 2011. A year and a half later, I was hired as a contractor and started my training program for the 787 program. During my first couple of months here, the position of safety lead became available. I had shared with some of my co-workers my life-changing experience in Iraq, and thought that I could possibly make a difference as my team’s safety lead. I am a certified first responder and a former emergency medical technician, so I thought that between my education and life experiences, I would do well in the position. I became safety lead this past February. I take my role seriously and set the bar high. In April, I became a direct hire, and since then have been promoted to assembler. n PHOTO: ALAN MARTS/BOEING 48 BOEING FRONTIERS / NOVEMBER 2013


Frontiers November 2013 Issue
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