Thursday, May 31, 2012

WOD for Warriors- "21 Guns" WOD on Memorial Day 2012

On Memorial Day, myslef, along with other Team RWB from Alexandria, LA had a great workout  with Community members, Veterans, Active Duty soldiers and National Guard soldiers coming together to do a modified “21 Guns” WOD For Warriors. Before executing the workout we took a moment and remembered 14 fellow soldiers who we have served with over the years who made the ultimate sacrifice. Two of the soldiers mentioned whom I had the honor of serving with, LTC Joseph Fenty (Whom Michael Schmidt served with as well) and SFC David Todd have Forward Operating Bases named after them in Afghanistan. Always remember… Live A Life Worth Their Sacrifice…

The Crawfishman Triathlon- Finishing With Old Glory

On May 6th I competed in the Crawfishman Triathlon in Bush, LA with Team RWB. It was brutally hot for May in Louisiana, temperatures in the 90s but it was a pretty amazing race with RWBer’s from all over the state racing.

The swim and bike portion went well. I took off on the run portion with Old Glory with two of my Team RWB teammates, Iraq veteran Lindsay Hartig, a former Army Captain (USMA '06), and Bridget Vaughn a small business owner in Alexandria, LA. As we approached the finish line the announcer sang “The Star Spangled Banner”. It was an incredible way to finish the race, crossing to the words of the National Anthem while carrying Old Glory. Watch the video below and you can hear the beginning of it.

Running with the flag is an AWESOME feeling. I run with the flag because the American Flag is unifying. It is a way to connect the community with veterans and raise awareness during endurance events like triathlons. The stars stand for the 50 states, which make up the United States of America and they lead the way into battle when we go to war.   It stands for everything America is about- Freedom, Peace, Security, Family,  and Community.  I  heard one lady comment " I can barely even make it across the finish line carrying my water bottle and he runs the whole race with a flag".

Hopefully seeing us pass by with the flag inspired her to finish.

IT’S OUR TURN!!!!!!!!!!!

I Tick When I Run

I tick when I run!!!! What does that mean????

On April 9th, 2004, I led my platoon on an attack to seize bridge 3 East in Al Kut, Iraq from the Mahdi Militia. In the ensuing fight nine of my scouts and myself were wounded, plus three guntrucks were damaged. I took multiple trauma to the chest during the fight . One of the projectiles I was hit with failed to detonate. If it had I would not be here. I recovered from each hit and continued to fight. The next morning I had a fairly large bruise on my chest but did not think much of it. I was happy to be alive.

Washington Post article from June 2004 about my units combat experiences in Iraq

I finished out the deployment and to make a long story short, I started having problems with physical fitness when my unit got back and resumed normal physical fitness training. One thing led to another and I ended up at a cardiologist who did an echo of my heart. He asked if I took any trauma to the chest in Iraq. I told him the story and he told me my mitral valve was torn and I had 40% leakage.  I had surgery on June 21 2005 and received a carbon mitral valve. That is why I tick when I run.

Needless to say,  I consider April 9th to be my “ALIVE Day” since I am blessed to still be alive.

I was a triathlete before the war and doctors told me after surgery I would not be able to resume competing in endurance sports nor continue my Army career. I did both. I had a good recovery and 5 months after surgery I competed in a triathlon as a member of a relay team, 10 Months after surgery I completed a sprint triathlon, and 11 months after surgery I completed an Olympic distance triathlon as well.

 I was given a medical profile that acknowledged my injury but did not prevent me from doing my job. I was assigned to Korea and I took command of C Co, 1-72 AR “First Tank” at Camp Casey, Korea. 

Upon return to the states I was assigned to FT. Polk, La where I took command of A Co, 1-353 IN (FSF-CA) in the 162nd Infantry Brigade. In April 2009 I completed the New Orleans Half Ironman.

 In February 2010 I deployed to Afghanistan. In March 2010 I had the honor of being selected to receive  the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. In May 2012 while I was still deployed in Afghanistan my wife received the award on my behalf from the Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Casey.

In January 2012 I ran the half marathon portion of the Louisiana Marathon, carrying Old Glory the whole way. In February I ran Cowtown in FT. Worth, Texas carrying Old Glory in that race as well.


In May of this year I competed in the Crawfishman Triathlon in Bush, La and also in the Spartan race in Burnet, Texas.

I do not run as fast as I used to before the war. In fact I run pretty slow. I have gotten over that. When I hear my fellow triathletes talk about a new PR I am just thankful that I am alive and can still run. My injury is not obvious since it is internal. If people see me without a shirt they might see the scar under my right pectoral muscle from where the surgeon cut though to conduct surgery on my mitral valve by entering through my rib cage. But what no one can miss unless they are deaf is the ticking of my mitral valve when I run.  That is a good sound, the sound of life.

This year on April 9th, my “Alive Day”, I had an awesome workout with my fellow Team RWB members Tara, Roderick, Jerry, Jacque, and Bridget. One of my friends from the pre-war days , Mitzi Dekeyzer Fairbanks, was out there with us as well. We were friends before the war and  she is one of my connections to my pre-war self.

It felt great to be out there pushing myself with the team. I am limited by my injury but that does not prevent me from giving 100%. My teammates can hear the sound of my carbon fiber heart vale “tick” when I get my heart rate up during exercise. One of the biggest parts of my recovery was accepting that I would never be “Fast” again. That was frustrating in the first year of my recovery. But I grew to accept it and now I am happy to be alive to finish events and not worried about my time or what my competitors are doing.   I win every time I cross the finish line.


Jonathan is an experienced leader and coach with a proven record of leading and developing others to perform at higher levels and improve their overall effectiveness. He has a passion for learning and developing others to improve as leaders. Jonathan brings lessons from over 25 years of experience leading in U.S. Army Infantry, Cavalry, and Armor units in a wide range of assignments, to include leading soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. He is a decorated veteran and a recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. Jonathan served as a faculty member at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY before transitioning from the Army in 2015. He is a certified Executive Coach and operates his own leadership coaching business. Check out his website here: