32-year fighter pilot is back on his feet after suffering a stroke and paralysis

Ray Ferguson recalls his knees not working and losing the ability to call out for his wife, when the stroke happened.
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 6:15 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Meet Ray Ferguson, a retired service member who served on both U.S. and Canadian soil and most recently suffered a stroke causing some paralysis to his right side.

“Boom! The airplane hit [the ground], and I was going right into the fireball,” Ray Ferguson said, recalling a time he had to eject himself from his fighter jet.

Talking to him about his recovery, he couldn’t help but tell some stories from his time as a fighter pilot. “…and he had fallen off his skidoo,” Ray joked as he told a story about scaring a friend by flying low to the water.

Ferguson who was once Canada’s equivalent to top gun pilots here in the States is learning to take things much slower after his stroke.

“It’s been quite a challenge to go from 500 miles per hour at 50 feet to two miles per hour in a wheelchair,” he said.

“I said Ray, don’t you give up Papa,” Ray’s stepdaughter Becky Brown said. “You weren’t born a loser pilot, you were born a fighter pilot, so you have to keep fighting.”

And fighting is just what he did, spending 31 days at the Encompass Rehabilitation Center in Round Rock, walking on his own after 31 days, something other doctors said wouldn’t be possible.

“Everything about being there is the reason Ray can walk today,” said Ray’s wife, Louise Ferguson. “They accomplished what we couldn’t dream of.”

And with Ray back home, those closest have made sure he’s taken care of.

“I’ve brought meals over and stuff for him, oh and German cake,” the Ferguson’s neighbor, Angelika Durham said gleefully.

Still recovering, he’s able to perform small tasks like preparing breakfast, combing his hair, and brushing his teeth. He’s even picking up new left-handed skills while he regains movement in his right.

“I’m trying to reconnect [my brain] to [my arm] and once I do, I’ll be well on my way to recovery,” Ray said. “It’s hard to relate coming back home and finding out it’s not built like a hospital.”

Because of this, his family is looking for some help from the community to make their home more accessible for his wheelchair and mobility needs.

This includes wheelchair ramps and a downstairs shower to name a few things.

If you’d like to help Ray and his family get these accommodations, click here.

You can also reach out to joshua.bowering@kwtx.com for more info on how to contact the Fergusons to provide in-person help.