TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Chants, cheers and whistling engulf the competitors as they emerge in front of a crowd of fans, family, and fellow wounded warriors. It is an unusual environment, unique to the Wounded Warrior Games, where everyone who competes is already a champion in the eyes of the audience.
U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior Master Sgt. Kenneth Guinn, 325th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal logistics section chief, will set foot in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Wounded Warrior Games. Alongside him is 39 team members who were selected from over 300 applicants.
“It is like going into battle again with 39 other brothers and sisters,” said Guinn. “We compete, train, share rooms, live and eat together. We do everything together. So it’s nice to show up and cheer each other on as part of a team.”
The team embodies everything the Wounded Warrior Program represents: resilience and teamwork.
“The Wounded Warrior Program provides a couple different services,” Guinn noted. “But for me, the Air Force Wounded Warrior program provides adaptive and rehabilitative support, and that was really crucial in my recovery to help me get back and be part of a team. It got me back to being active again and competing in sporting events.”
The Wounded Warrior Program reached out to Guinn after he sustained injuries to both knees while deployed in Afghanistan.
“My surgeon initially told me that I would probably never run again, and if I did it is going to be extremely uncomfortable,” Guinn explained.
The recovery took time and was another hurdle to overcome in order to participate in not only his military duties, but also sporting events, where his passion lies.
“My recovery took a good year and a half, two years of just physical therapy and then everything on my own,” Guinn said.
After recovery, he was able to put back on the uniform and return to a deployable status. Guinn would continue to push the boundaries of his recovery by training for the upcoming Wounded Warrior Games.
“I started running and eventually I got picked up for the Air Force trials in 2017,” Guinn said.
Guinn won every race in his classification that year and set three new records. He described it as the highlight of his recovery.
Guinn credits his competitive personality for fueling his motivation to be the best athlete he can be.
Last year all of his races were won by a very thin margin of 1.2 seconds or less. The competition being so close behind, it pushed him to run that much faster.
Soon to compete in this year’s games, representing Tyndall’s EOD unit, he said he is more ready than he has ever been.
“This year I got picked up for the 2018 Warrior Games for track, field, archery, power-lifting, sitting volley ball and wheelchair basketball,” said Guinn.
Guinn, who was once told he would probably never run again, takes long strides to beat out his fierce competitors; truly earning his spot in this year’s Warrior Games.