HOW STRONG YOU ARE

Veteran: Kirstie Ennis  
Artist / Writer: Camille McMennamin

YOU DON'T REALIZE
HOW STRONG YOU ARE
UNTIL YOU HAVE TO BE

Kirstie Ennis was just 17 when she enlisted in the Marines. Needed her parents’ permission. Promised them she’d only be working a desk job. 

Turned out it wasn’t a desk she worked on. It was helicopters. In Afghanistan.

Passionate about joining up and joining the fight, she loved the  Marines. Even did a second tour. Typically she would fly one day and repair choppers the next. 

One day in June, 2012, Kirstie and her team were on a mission to transport soldiers and ammo to a fallen mosque when their helicopter went nose up, rolled left and fell from the sky. 

It shattered. So did the right side of Kirstie Ennis’s face. Her teeth had crumbled; she couldn’t speak. She had burns, a brain  injury and severe injuries to her left arm and leg. 

Today she credits a medic with saving her life. Credit should also be given to her remarkable strength of character. Plus her family’s support, veterans  organizations, and her many dedicated doctors. She’s had 38 surgeries and two amputations.

Kirstie survived Afghanistan. 20 of her allied comrades didn’t. Before her first amputation, she wore a leg brace donated by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, and placed their dog tags throughout Britain during a 1,000 mile Walking With the Wounded. Her long, painful walk included periodic encouragement from Prince Harry and concluded with a happy, heartfelt royal hug.  

She has left the Marines, taking a Marine Corps Achievement Award with her. Today, this beautiful, amazing 24 year-old woman is a professional adapted snowboarder prepping for the 2018 Paralympics.