Captain Juan Guerrero’s journey from soldier to warrior
During his third tour in Iraq, Captain Juan Guerrero was part of a team conducting escort security for the explosive ordinance disposal team. He was in the lead vehicle, on the passenger side.
And that’s when an improvised explosive device (IED) changed everything.
The events of that day, almost four years ago, inform the rest of Guerrero’s story, but the tale doesn’t end there. Rather than let his injuries define him, Guerrero rose above his circumstances to where he is now. He is preparing to participate in The Warrior Games for the second time – this year with his eye on the prize.
The title of Ultimate Warrior.
The Warrior Games, being held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from May 16 to May 21, offer a chance for 200 wounded, injured or ill service men and women from all branches of military service to compete in athletic events.
“What it’s done for me is give me something to look forward to that I can do regardless of my injury,” Guerrero told Fox News Latino.
“When I participated last year I knew I couldn’t run,” he added, referring to the 2010 competition in which he won the gold medal for prone air rifle shooting.
Guerrero’s road back to good health was fraught with challenges even after his legs were severely injured, because of the pain in his right leg. The Peruvian-American had a limp because the bones in his right leg didn’t heal properly, despite eight surgeries.
So Guerrero made what would be a harrowing decision for most people.
“My leg was amputated on September 10th, 2010,” Guerrero said.
He lost his leg below his right knee but regained the ability to run through a prosthetic – and he hasn’t stopped since.
“This year I’m cycling 30-kilometers, doing the 10-meter air rifle shooting, a 50-meter swim, a 100-meter race, and shot put,” he said after getting out of a training pool.
There is no mistaking that Guerrero is tough and courageous, and maybe a new word that rolls both of those into one. After all, he once told the Army’s official website that, “My goal is to return to duty and deploy again. Afghanistan would be fine with me.”
But he says that he is not only doing this for himself.
“Just knowing that I’m able to perform at an almost normal level, I can be a role model for other soldiers,” he said. “It shows that just because I’m injured, it doesn’t mean my life has stopped and I can’t participate in sports.”
Guerrero also wants people to take something important away from his story.
“The Army does take care of their people. All services take care of their wounded. They put this together and show America that whether you’re wounded, injured or ill, it’s not the end of the world,” he said.
And when asked about how he hopes to do in the Warrior Games and his desire to be named the Ultimate Warrior, Guerrero laughs – but only a little – before turning matter-of-fact.
“Oh, I’m gonna take the gold,” he said confidently. “There’s no other way to look at it.”