Boys are Awed and Inspired by Wounded Warriors

On October 18, the Browning Upper School had one of its most inspiring assemblies ever. Head of Upper School Jim Reynolds reports: Two players and the general manager of the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) came to the School to talk to the boys about their experiences as soldiers and their triumphs over significant adversity. Matthew Kinsey and Zachary Briseno were high school athletes who had a dream of serving their country and were sent to the war theaters of Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively. Mr. Kinsey lost the front half of his right foot to an IED, and Mr. Briseno lost both of his legs below the knees to an anti-tank device that blew up under the Hummer in which he was riding in the passenger seat. The candor with which they spoke of their injuries was moving. You could hear a pin drop in the Lower Gym. But even more compelling were their stories of taking their tragic circumstances and building new lives that have earned them spots on the WWAST. While both wear prosthetic devices to get around, they are mobile, agile and matter-of-fact about their injuries. They were introduced to the Browning audience by the general manager of the WWAST, David Van Sleet, who has been involved in creating prostheses (specifically related to eyes) and a regional manager for the Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 25 years. The exhibition of courage, perseverance and vigor presented by these gentlemen was nothing short of inspirational.

After the assembly, another WWAST player, Joshua Wege, arrived to join his teammates, and the three players and their general manager graciously spent time in the cafeteria talking to whomever wanted to ask further questions or just to thank them for their service. Many fifth graders, in the cafeteria for snack time, warily sauntered over to meet the men, who quickly engaged them in conversation and dispelled any reticence the students may have had regarding their devices. Ms. Cooper-Mullin brought her Civics class down to meet the athletes.

The Upper School is most grateful to Karen and Rob Reuben (P'14) and their son Spencer '14 for their generosity and assistance in making this incredible assembly possible. There is not a person in attendance who will not remember this assembly for a long time and continue to be inspired by the example set by these fine young men.