Warrior Games Kick Off at Air Force Academy

MSgt. Kenneth Guinn, 325th Civil Engineering Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Logistics section chief, readies an arrow on a recurve bow at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on May 15. Guinn was selected to participate in the 2018 Warrior Games. Air Force photo by A1C Delaney Gonzales

A total of 250 athletes, representing the US Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and US Special Operations Command, as well as British, Australian and Canadian armed forces, began competing in this year’s Department of Defense Warrior Games on Friday at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The games, which run through June 9, “showcase the resilient spirit of today’s wounded, ill or injured service members through Paralympic-style sports,” Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said Thursday.

The athletes in the games have overcome significant injuries.

White pointed to a Marine staff sergeant who was injured by an IED attack in 2009 in Afghanistan, who will represent SOCOM in eight events, and a retired Air Force tech sergeant battling breast cancer who will compete in sitting volleyball.

One participant is USAF MSgt. Kenneth Guinn, 325th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal logistics section chief, who will join 39 team members selected from more than 300 applicants.

“It is like going into battle again with 39 other brothers and sisters,” he said in an Air Force news release. “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.”

Injured in both knees while on deployment in Afghanistan, he said his surgeon at first said he would probably never run again, and that if he did it would be extremely uncomfortable. After a lengthy recovery, he began training for Wounded Warrior Games.

“I started running and eventually I got picked up for the Air Force trials in 2017,” he said in the release. He won every race in his classification that year, setting three new records. This year he was picked for track, field, archery, power-lifting, sitting volley ball and wheelchair basketball, he said.

Other participants include Air Force Capt. Hunter Barnhill, a 37th Flying training Squadron instructor, discovered to have brain cancer, who watched the Invictus Gams for wounded, injured and ill service members and veterans after his surgery, and qualified for — and will compete in – shooting, cycling and indoor rowing.

“When you get down to it, the real motivation is competing alongside other resilient airmen,” Barnhill said in a Defense Department news release. “I wanted to compete alongside them. These people at the Warrior Games know, in a way, what I’ve gone through. That’s a bond we all share.”