Blount Press Row

Always Faithful

Former Marine, WB Governor Kenny proud of service

By Stefan Cooper
Editor
Blount Press Row

Marcus Kenny took a novel approach to summer workouts following his senior football season at William Blount in 1999.

Ex-Marine and former William Blount Governor Marcus Kenny lines up a chip during the Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament on Monday at Green Meadow Country Club. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

Ex-Marine and former William Blount Governor Marcus Kenny lines up a chip during the Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament on Monday at Green Meadow Country Club. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

He joined the Marines.

The intent was to prepare himself for his freshman season at Maryville College that fall. Running and lifting weights all summer struck him as a boring way to go about it. So, within days of collecting his diploma, he boarded a plane for boot camp and Parris Island, S.C.

“I would NEVER do that again,” the former Marine Corps officer said.

Serving his country again is another story.

“Definitely,” he said. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Kenny was a featured speaker at the inaugural Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament at Green Meadow Country Club on Monday.

The brainchild of former Maryville College player/retired Air Force Col. David Evans and Carson-Newman assistant coach Tony Ierulli, the tournament was organized to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, which assists veterans in a variety of areas from health care to employment to support.

“I feel very strongly about our veterans being an essential part of our country getting back on track to where it should be,” Kenny said. “You’re at large disadvantage if you’re coming home and you’ve got a disability. I don’t think it really translates for a lot of people who don’t know sacrifice much beyond their front door.

“These are people that walked away from their lives and put a lot on the line. It comes with a price.”

Kenny, who deployed to Iraq after graduating from Maryville College and saw action in the battle for Fallujah, has a front row seat to the debate concerning the care for America’s veterans. His office these days is in Washington D.C., where the former Governor running back works for the Department of Defense, specializing in intelligence.

Kenny rose through the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School after beginning his career in the enlisted ranks, receiving his commission in 2004. Last December, the former Scots captain wed his girlfriend, Asheley.

As is becoming increasingly evident among America’s returning veterans, the effects of combat often transcend the physical, something she’s observed firsthand, Asheley Kenny said.

“People know about it but don’t dig deeper into what they (combat veterans) really see, and how it can effect them,” she said.

Carson-Newman assistant coach Tony Ierulli, left, and retired Air Force Col. David Evans want to make the Wounded Warrior tournament an annual event.

Carson-Newman assistant coach Tony Ierulli, left, and retired Air Force Col. David Evans want to make the Wounded Warrior tournament an annual event.

“Marcus has seen some really nasty stuff,” Evans said.

While full bore behind the concept, Kenny chafes somewhat at categorizing injured returning veterans as “wounded” warriors.

“They can take off that prosthetic and beat your (backside),” he said. “These are some of the toughest son of guns I’ve ever known.”

The wait many returning service members endure seeking medical care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has several contributing factors, Evans said.

The military simply can’t compete with the compensation physicians can generate in the private sector, he said, resulting in a shortage. Another factor is the sheer length of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which rank first and second, respectively, in American history.

Afghanistan alone, 12 years and counting, outpaces World War II (3.7 years), Korea (3.1), the War of 1812 (2.5), the Mexican American War (1.8) and World War I (1.6) combined. Taken together, the wars in Iraq an Afghanistan have resulted in more than a million former service members now eligible for Veterans Affairs assistance.

“We have a system that hasn’t kept pace with the length of commitments,” Evans said.

In equally increasing numbers, there’s also the issue of helping returning veterans reenter the workforce.

“We need to take advantage of the leaders that have gone out and managed these incredibly complicated tasks,” Kenny said. “They’re moving hundreds of thousands of metric tons across the ocean, across other countries, to get to you. They’re doing this stuff through automation, with robots moving things off shelves.

“There’s something to be gained here.”

Looking back on the last 10 years, Kenny said he wouldn’t change a thing.

“You can have moments of sheer pride,” he said.

Three wonderful months in South Carolina in the summer of 1999, he says with a laugh, included.

One Comment

  1. Tony

    July 8, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Outstanding article Stefan!!! Our players and vets really appreciate you spending the whole day with us. It was a good day for many of our veterans which also includes you who served our country in your past. I am very proud of Marcus and glad you were able to share his story with your readers!!!

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