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Amputee Continues to Lead Marines at School of Infantry

Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Guest, a native of Spokane, Wash., continues to mentor and lead Marines as the chief instructor at the Advanced Machine Gunners course at Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry - West, after having his left leg amputated Oct. 10, 2012. Guest was on a patrol during combat operations in Afghanistan in 2008 when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, ejecting him from the humvee and causing three different compound fractures in his left leg. After years of physical therapy and more than 25 surgeries, Guest was able to jog again but only for short moments. He exercised to improve his condition when  his leg became repeatedly infected and he was left with only three options: fuse his leg straight allowing no bending in the knee, perform a total knee replacement with risk of future infections, or amputation of the leg. More than four years after being struck by an IED, Guest had his leg amputated. Guest now continues his Marine Corps career through the Expanded Permanent Limited Duty program, which allows Marines who incurred significant combat injuries that would normally restrict them from continuing their Marine Corps service to continue their careers by mentoring Marines through their leadership skills complemented by combat experience. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan/Released)

Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Guest, a native of Spokane, Wash., continues to mentor and lead Marines as the chief instructor at the Advanced Machine Gunners course at Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, after having his left leg amputated Oct. 10, 2012. Due to his vast experience as an infantryman, Guest’s role as an instructor at the School of Infantry is vital to the mentoring of future infantry Marines. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan/Released)

As an instructor at the School of Infantry, a Marine is expected to be physically fit, mentally strong and have a vast amount of knowledge in their occupational field.

With one amputated leg, Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Guest, the chief instructor of the Advanced Machine Gunners course at Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, is no exception.

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Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Guest, a native of Spokane, Wash., continues to mentor and lead Marines as the chief instructor at the Advanced Machine Gunners course at Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry - West, after having his left leg amputated Oct. 10, 2012. Guest was on a patrol during combat operations in Afghanistan in 2008 when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, ejecting him from the humvee and causing three different compound fractures in his left leg. After years of physical therapy and more than 25 surgeries, Guest was able to jog again but only for short moments. He exercised to improve his condition when  his leg became repeatedly infected and he was left with only three options: fuse his leg straight allowing no bending in the knee, perform a total knee replacement with risk of future infections, or amputation of the leg. More than four years after being struck by an IED, Guest had his leg amputated. Guest now continues his Marine Corps career through the Expanded Permanent Limited Duty program, which allows Marines who incurred significant combat injuries that would normally restrict them from continuing their Marine Corps service to continue their careers by mentoring Marines through their leadership skills complemented by combat experience. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan/Released)

Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Guest, a native of Spokane, Wash., continues to mentor and lead Marines as the chief instructor at the Advanced Machine Gunners course at Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, after having his left leg amputated Oct. 10, 2012. Guest now continues his Marine Corps career through the Expanded Permanent Limited Duty program, which allows Marines who incurred significant combat injuries that would normally restrict them from continuing their Marine Corps service to continue their careers by mentoring Marines through their leadership skills complemented by combat experience. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan/Released)

“When I joined the Marine Corps, I chose to join the infantry because I like action and being in the thick of things, and because of the challenge it presents,” said Guest, a native of Spokane, Wash. “The infantry is very dynamic because there are a lot of different aspects you can master like weapons or tactics.”

Guest deployed four times, three times to combat zones in his career.

His first deployment was with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, in support of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, in response to the USS Cole being bombed. His second and third deployments were to Iraq with 1st Bn., 1st Marines, and his fourth and final deployment was to Afghanistan with 2nd Bn., 7th Marine Regiment.

Guest experienced his first enemy contact while deployed to Afghanistan in 2008.

“After our first engagement in Now Zad, we had to fight our way out of the city,” Guest said. “It was like that every day for the next five months. Most engagements lasted anywhere from five to 15 hours long. I never wanted to see my guys get hurt or wounded, but I still carry those memories with me today.”

After five months of constant enemy contact, Guest’s vehicle drove over a pressure plate improvised explosive device during an engagement Aug. 10, ejecting him from the vehicle and causing three different compound fractures in his left leg.

“After the dust cleared I started to look around, and I noticed my boot was next to my face,” Guest said. “I thought I was dizzy and was hallucinating until I looked down and saw the blood on my pant leg and saw the bones sticking out.”

Guest was sent to Bagram Air Force Base and many other hospitals for more than 25 surgeries after his injury.

As he recovered during physical therapy, he realized his leg wasn’t going to heal as well as he hoped, so he went through further surgeries.

He was offered the opportunity to work at the School of Infantry as a machine gun instructor and seized the opportunity after recovering again.

“I was the chief instructor running courses, and I was doing perfectly fine,” Guest said. “I was working with weapons and doing regular infantry stuff again when I started to feel ill and my leg started hurting.”

His leg became continuously infected because of constant physical training and he was left with only three options: fuse his leg straight allowing no bending in the knee, perform a total knee replacement with risk of future infections that could be fatal, or amputation of the leg. He chose to amputate the leg and had the operation performed Oct. 10, 2012.

“Choosing to have my leg amputated was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life because it is losing part of myself,” Guest said.

Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Guest (right), the chief instructor of the Advanced Machine Gunners Course at Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry - West, patrols back to Forward Operating Base Gray after a firefight in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in April 2008. Five months into his deployment, Guest, a native of Spokane, Wash., was on a patrol when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, ejecting him from his vehicle and causing three different compound fractures in his left leg, which ultimately led to his leg being amputated in 2012. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps/Released)

Gunnery Sgt. Gabriel Guest (right), the chief instructor of the Advanced Machine Gunners Course at Advanced Infantry Training Battalion, School of Infantry – West, patrols back to Forward Operating Base Gray after a firefight in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in April 2008. Five months into his deployment, Guest, a native of Spokane, Wash., was on a patrol when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, ejecting him from his vehicle and causing three different compound fractures in his left leg, which ultimately led to the amputation of his leg in 2012. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps/Released)

Guest took a week off work for his amputation because of his dedication. He continued to recover from the operation while he returned back to instructing Marines.

“The Marine Corps made the Expanded Permanent Limited Duty program for Marines like myself who are wounded warriors and want to continue being Marines,” Guest said. “I hope that I’m showing the commandant the program was a great choice because I don’t know what I would do with myself if I wasn’t a Marine.”

Through the EPLD program, Marines who incurred significant combat injuries that would normally restrict them from continuing their Marine Corps service are allowed to continue their careers by mentoring Marines through their leadership skills sharpened by combat experience.

Guest has instructed multiple courses and is back to full duty aside from certain physical training events since his amputation.

“It’s awesome to see him still have the same opportunities everyone else gets because he earned every bit of it,” said Cpl. Sean O’Malley, an instructor at the Advanced Machine Gunners course. “I’ve never seen him not willing to do something for any of his Marines. He puts so much into being an instructor because he knows the Marines he is teaching may find themselves in the same combat situations he found himself in years ago. He wants each and every one of them to come back alive.”

Guest said one of the reasons he loves instructing Marines is because he is able to show them the reality of combat with the loss of his leg.

“I have had friends who were amputees who started drinking more and became depressed after losing their limbs, but Gunnery Sgt. Guest is not one of those people,” said O’Malley, a native of Chicago. “He is more active than a lot of people who have both of their legs.”

Despite losing his left leg, Guest still actively swims and physically trains as he did before the amputation.

Guest plans to return to an infantry battalion and continue to deploy overseas after finishing his time as an SOI instructor,

“Once someone loses a limb from their body, it makes them appreciate the little things in life,” Guest said. “It makes them understand how limited humans are, but it also lets them know how endless the potential is.”

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  • Joe Delgado

    its an honer to call this hard charger my brother!!! RAIDERS!!

  • jrnfla

    Great story and a very dedicated Marine. As a retired Marine, I understand Gunny Guest’s desire to stay on active duty and his instructor position seems like a great way for him to contribute as I can imagine that his student Marines are very much in awe with “The Gunny” and want to be just like him. However, I think fulfilling his dream of being deployed again as part of an infantry battalion is doubtful. With his prosthetic he can continue on active duty when he is an instructor but putting him back into an infantry battalion with him as the company gunny could end up costing lives or, at least, endangering his Marines that will willingly die to help him or he could end up putting himself in an indefensible positions. We should certainly do everything we can to help him be a Marine in position to make daily contributions to the Corps but putting him back in an infantry battalion poses too many risks. I’m proud to have worn the same uniform as Gunny Guest. A big oorah to “The Gunny!” Semper fi, CWO JNR, (retired)

  • Devil Dude

    Why are you trying to demote my fellow Marine, James?

    The motivated hard-chargin’ Warrior featured in this article is a *Gunnery Sergeant*(!) of Marines (E-7), not a “Sarn’t” (sic) (E-5).
    Please save the lazy, everyone-E5-and-above-is-a-”Sarn’t” (sic) unsat Army-speak for the blog of the Army, bro!
    We Marines do not demote our senior NCO’s and show laziness by addressing anyone Sgt. and above just as a Sergeant. We address them by they proper rank, i.e. an E-6 is a *Staff* Sergeant, an E-7 is a *Gunnery* Sergeant, and so on…

  • M C

    Semper Fi, Brother

  • patricia

    good job gabe so happy and proud of you ! you are a true hero

  • January Road

    Awesome and inspiring. Thank you for your sacrifice and your service.

  • January Road

    Awesome and inspiring ! Thank you for protecting our freedom.

  • Ben Parsons

    I have always held the belief that even horrifically wounded veterans should be able to continue service if they desired and could realistically contribute in a whole person needed capacity.
    GySgt Guest epitomizes and validates my belief. There are a few others too.
    Salute Gunny! You’re my kind of Marine.

  • Gregory Hoormann

    Thank God for people like this .

  • Raylene Mccorkell

    You are an inspiration to others , thank you for your service .

  • Holly Riley-Davis

    Thank you Gunny Sgt. Guest you are a true American.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1191224433 Margaret Mcintyre-Farina

    Amazing. I’m happy to see the Marines are ‘flexible”–evaluating each individual and the contribution they are capable of making, instead of just discharging the recovered injured. Thank you all for your service and inspirational leadership. Semper Fi

  • David Frye

    Thank You and you family for your sacrifice! SEMPER FIDELIS Marine!

  • James

    Operator as f—! Oorah sarn’t guest!

  • James Rose

    Semper Fi…Thank you for your continued service to our country.