“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But by all means keep moving.” This quote from civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. is quite appropriate when describing Matias Ferriera.
In March of 2017, Ferriera was sworn in as a Suffolk County, New York police officer. However, his story is far from ordinary. You see, when Ferriera was sworn in, it is believed he became the first-ever double amputee to become a full active duty police officer in Suffolk County and part of a class of precious few in the United States. And he did it all by always moving forward.
Emigrating from Uruguay as a child, Matias dream was to be a U.S. Marine. A dream he would fulfill by enlisting in the U.S. Marines in his early twenties. He attributed the 9/11 attacks as an inspiration to serve. In September 2010, he deployed to Afghanistan as a machine gunner with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. However, his military career would end on a fateful night in January of 2011, when he lost both legs and broke his pelvis after stepping on an improvised explosive device. Matias told CNN “We were doing what’s called a raid — night mission inside a compound to see if there were any Taliban forces or IED-making materials, I remember telling my guys, ‘Hey stay put. I’m going to go get the rest of the equipment. I’ll be right back.’ I jumped off the roof and I fell onto a 30-pound bomb.”
Matias would lose both of his legs as a result of the incident, however, as he would recount to CNN he was simply glad to be alive. Upon returning stateside he began what many anticipated would a long and arduous rehabilitation process. After all, relearning how to walk is no small feat. Yet, Matias would walk and run in just three short months. He would also go on to marry and is now the proud father of a little girl. However, he was still eager to serve. At the suggestion of a family member he applied to become an officer in the Suffolk County Police Department. Ferreira entered the academy and strove to be treated like everyone else. Yet, he wasn’t, in many cases he was a far better recruit, so much so, his academy class elected him its President. A title, he attributes, less to his ability and more to the notion that “he talks too much”.
For running, walking, crawling and above all always moving forward Matias Ferriera is one of our Men of the Year in 2017.