Habbaniyah, Iraq --
Habbaniyah, Iraq (May 27, 2008) – When he first had thoughts of joining the military, 42-year-old Petty Officer Second Class 2nd Class Adam F. Kinney, a hospital corpsman with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, was laughed at by recruiters because of his age and doubted by many who thought he couldn’t physically do it.
Through determination and triumph, Kinney overcame the odds and proved to all doubters he wasn’t just some wannabe trying to fulfill a childhood fantasy.
“I had a lot of doubters,” said Kinney, a resident of Elizabethtown, Ky. “But when someone tells me I can’t do something, the first damn thing I’m going to do is prove them wrong.”
Growing up, Kinney wanted to become one of two things: either a lawyer or be in the Military. After spending four years in the Army’s enlisted commissioning program in the 1980s, he had to choose whether to take a full commission in the Military or take the offer to attend Law School at Samford University in Alabama.
“In the small town where I am from, attorneys were very respected,” Kinney said. “So I decided to become a criminal attorney. I didn’t really understand the concept that doing something you love will eventually make you money as opposed to doing something just to make money, so I did what I wanted to do then.”
Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Kinney wanted to do his part, but thought his age would deter him from joining the Military.
“After 9/11, I wanted to do something but I thought I was too old,” he said. “So I became a volunteer fireman, went to emergency medical technician (EMT) school and got in great shape.”
For Kinney, that was not enough.
“I felt like I owed something to the Military. I regretted not finishing,” said the Appalachian State graduate. “As you get older, you have regrets and doubts about yourself and one regret of mine was not finishing out my military commitment.”
So in 2004, Kinney weighed through his options and decided that the Marines would present the biggest challenge for him and stepped into the recruiter’s office.
“I know this may sound a little moto, but I wanted to join with the best and the Marines are the best, but when I stepped into the office, the first recruiter just laughed at me because of my age,” he said with a smile. “There was this (gunnery sergeant) in the back who overheard the conversation and he pulled me aside and said ‘You’re too old to join the Marines, but there is another way.’ He said that I could be a Navy Corpsman and go green-side, which is being a doc for Marines.”
Upon hearing the decision that her, then 38 years-old, husband had decided to join the Navy, Kinney’s wife LeaAnn did not understand but supported him.
“From the first day we met, I knew that this was an unfulfilled obligation he had,” said LeaAnn. “I am so proud of him and what he’s doing, but I always tell him that it is so hard to be proud of something I hate so bad and by hate I mean being away from him.”
Not only does Kinney’s being away affected his wife, but also his two sons Trevor, 16, and Jackson, 9.
“I hated to see him go but I am proud of him serving his country for us,” Jackson said.
Trevor agreed, saying: “Personally, I couldn’t stand it. Every night, my mom cried herself to sleep. At first, I couldn’t comprehend why he did it, but as time has passed, I have come to realize that this was not a choice but a privilege for him to defend something he loves.”
Upon graduation from boot camp and graduating second in his class at the seven-week field medical course at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Kinney reported to the 4th Tank Battalion located at Fort Knox, Ky., where he begged and pleaded to deploy to Iraq.
“I asked anyone and everyone if there was a unit I could deploy with and it just didn’t seem like it was going to happen,” Kinney said. “Then HM1 Winkle from Echo Company, 2/24 showed up at the drill center and we hit it off. He mentioned that 2/24 was deploying and he said he would see what he could do for me. Literally two weeks later, he called and told me ‘Pack your bags, your going to Iraq.’”
With the news that her husband was deploying to the war-torn country of Iraq, LeaAnn could not believe it.
“I thought my world had come to an end. I was devastated,” she said. “How could this happen? How will I ever make it without him?”
Though it has been painful on his family, LeaAnn acknowledges that his experiences have changed him for the better.
“He has learned a lot about himself since he has been gone and has found strength that even he didn’t know he had; physically, mentally and spiritually.”
More than half way through his seven-month deployment in the al-Anbar Province of Iraq, Kinney is more than excited to return home and begin his “new life” with his family.
“This experience has turned my entire life around. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I get home, but whatever I decide to do, it will be something that I love. I can’t wait to get home.”
When asked if he would do it again if he could go back, he replied by saying: “I can’t wait until my second pump.”