Through a Rollercoaster of Ups and Downs
Wounded Warrior turns tragedies into inspirations
Ryan Shannon grew up like most kids from a small town in suburbia. He played sports and hung out with his friends and siblings. After high school, he did what most kids were expected to do: go to college and earn a degree in a chosen career field. However, one event changed everything.
"I never really thought of the military as an option for me," said Shannon, from Morris, Illinois. "There was a school shooting in Northern Illinois. I lost a buddy. ... He got shot saving his girlfriend's life. It kind of altered my perception of what I was doing."
The event impacted Shannon so much that he began to reconsider what he was doing with his life. It eventually led him to the Navy.
"I didn't really discuss it with anybody," recalled Shannon. "Went in [to the recruiter's office], joined up and 13 days later I was leaving. My parents were kind of caught off guard. It was definitely the right move."
Like most new service members, Shannon found boot camp to be an eye-opening experience.
"Being tall was always an advantage my whole life," he said. "But at boot camp, being tall was absolutely a disadvantage. You're a target to those RDCs [recruit division commanders]. I learned pretty quickly how to follow orders."
Before leaving boot camp, he was meritoriously promoted. Then he went off to submarine school, where he continued to excel and finished in the top three of his class, allowing him to be one of the first to choose orders.
"I really never had been outside of Illinois at that point," said Shannon, who was an electronics technician. He thought, "I might as well go somewhere fun, so I choose Hawaii for my first duty station."