the twin towers fell to a terrorist attack on 9/11, a 10th-grader
knew he wanted to do something about it.
His family has those
who serve, or have served, in the Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force,
but Marine Corps Staff Sgt. James Dunaway said watching the towers
fall motivated him to join the Marines.
For almost 13 years,
he’s served as an infantry unit leader, stationed at Marine Corps
Base Camp Pendleton, California. He has severe post-traumatic stress
disorder from serving 35 months in combat during multiple
back-to-back tours to Iraq from 2005 to 2008, and to Afghanistan
from 2009 to 2011. During that time, as a squad leader, he led more
than 130 combat patrols in Iraq, and more than 120 combat patrols in
Afghanistan. He performed over 400 combat missions during his tours.
Road to Recovery
2008 to 2009, between his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan,
Dunaway said he was drinking, partying and having anger issues while
stationed with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines in Hawaii. He sought
out thrill-seeking adventures such as sky diving, swimming with
sharks and spearfishing. He started getting treatment for PTSD, but
didn’t take it seriously until he met his wife, Arelene, an Army
veteran. They’ve been married seven years and have Eva, 4, and J.D.,
June 29, 2017- U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. James Dunaway sights in
on his target during a 2017 DoD Warrior Games shooting practice at
McCormick Place in Chicago, IL Dunaway, a native of Tampa, Florida.,
is a member of Team Marine Corps. The Warrior Games is an adaptive
sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and
veterans. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nadia J. Stark)
“I need to get sober; I need to straighten up and be a father and
a husband because the Marine Corps [is] going to stop and I’m going
to continue and I want to continue successfully,” he said. “She’s my
rock, and I’m hers as well. She’s served so she knows what it’s like
to be in the military so it’s a little bit easier for me to talk to
Dunaway is proud not only of his wife, but of his
children as well. “Having a daughter was probably the greatest thing
to ever happen to me; she’s daddy’s little girl. My son, he’s huge.
He’s a monster,” he said laughingly.
Participating in Warrior Games
Dunaway is competing in the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior
Games in air pistol, standing air rifle and compound archery for the
Growing up in Lithia, Florida, shooting shotguns
with his family, he hopes to do well in the air pistol and rifle
rounds but said they can be tricky.
“I think I’m going to do
well in rifle, but then again, with pistol, you’ve got to focus a
little more,” he said. During the Marine trials, he earned a gold
medal in the pistol and a bronze in archery. “I want to leave here
with something around my neck,” he said.
Dunaway said he’s
excited to share the experience with his wife this week while his
mother-in-law watches the kids at home, and he’s grateful to the
city of Chicago for their support.
“I want to thank the city
of Chicago for welcoming us here and the fact they’ve got the
posters and signs up all over the place here. It’s also great to see
other nations here competing, Australia and the United Kingdom.”
Dunaway recommends events like the Warrior Games or any adaptive
sports to anyone who may be wounded, ill or injured.
July 3, 2017 - U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. James Dunaway, left,
U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Douglas Godfrey, center, and U.S.
Marine Corps Sgt. Jacob Greenlief, right, after winning the bronze
medal during the 2017 DoD Warrior Games Archery Competition at
McCormick Place in Chicago. Dunaway, a native of Tampa, Fla.,
Godfrey, a native of Woodbridge, Va., and Greenlief, a native of
Kirkwood, Ill., are members of Team Marine Corps. The DoD Warrior
Games is an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured
service members and veterans. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl.
“It’s worth it, and set yourself some goals. I do shooting,
archery, cycling and in each one, I set a goal for myself,” he said.
“Find something you think you would like and then set yourself a
goal within that. Once you reach that goal, set yourself another
goal so you always continue to climb. It’s going to get better.”
From 10th-grader to squad leader in Iraq, to a competitor at the
Warrior Games, Dunaway said that even though he has severe PTSD, “I
am happy to have said that I’ve served. I’m absolutely happy I can
About 265 wounded, ill and
injured service members and veterans representing teams from the
Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, U.S. Special
Operations Command, United Kingdom and the Australian Defense Force
armed forces are competing in shooting, archery, cycling, track and
field, swimming, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
By Shannon Collins
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