AFCEC warfighter shines at DoD warrior games

  • Published
  • By J. Brian Garmon
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs
Master Sgt. Linn Dillard is a warfighter, a cancer survivor and overcame a traumatic brain injury. She’s also an athlete who recently won gold, silver and bronze medals during the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

Dillard brought home gold medals in the 400 meters and the 4 x 100 meter relay, silver medals in the 100 and 200 meters, 50-meter breaststroke, and 200-meter freestyle mixed relay swims, and bronze medals in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle swim.

“After all I have been through, I really value my health,” Dillard said. “Chemotherapy is very hard on your body. Aside from losing my hair, the nausea was debilitating, my fingertips lost sensation, I had ulcers in my mouth, and the fatigue was indescribable. I could hardly walk up the stairs without feeling completely winded. My body has strengthened since, but I will never forget what it feels like to be nearing death’s doorway. Every lap, every sprint and every lift makes me feel grateful to be alive. Competing keeps me motivated to train, eat right and maximize my body’s potential.”

Approximately 300 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans participated in the competition at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Athletes represented the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command and several allied forces. The Warrior Games were established in 2010 as a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded, ill and injured service members and expose them to adaptive sports.

The athletes were a mix of active duty service members and a small number of veterans with upper-body, lower-body and spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairment, serious illnesses and post-traumatic stress. They competed in 11 sports including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball and time trial cycling. Sports are also divided into subcategories based on the athlete’s level of injury or illness.

"Master Sergeant Dillard is a phenomenal warrior, athlete and Airman,” said Lt. Col. David Troxell, Explosive Ordnance Disposal division chief at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. “She excels at everything she does, both on the job and representing the Air Force, including events like DoD Warrior Games. Her commitment and impact to the Air Force EOD career field, and the Airman she supports, is immeasurable. While we are extremely proud [she] is representing Air Force EOD and AFCEC, no amount of gold or silver medals can accurately reflect the impact she has on the mission and the warfighter downrange."

Dillard will represent the Air Force and compete in the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney this October.