Staff Sgt. Kevin Nguyen and Staff Sgt. John Wayne Joss represented Team USA and the Army at the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, earlier this month.
Both Soldiers are in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program and are para-shooters.
Nguyen, competing in the SH1 classification, made his Paralympic debut and placed 20th in the mixed 50-meter rifle prone position after shooting a score of 613.9, and 36th in the mixed 10-meter air rifle.
In the Paralympics, athletes are given classifications based on their sport and level of disability. For example, in SH1, “SH” stands for shooting events, and “1” is for the physical impartment. Classifications include physical, visual, and intellectual impairments.
“I get the best of both worlds,” said Nguyen, a three-time Para-shooting Sports Grand Prix medalist. “I get to represent the Army as a Soldier and be an ambassador for Team USA. It’s a huge honor.”
Nguyen, a two-time Para Pan American Games medalist, said he enjoyed every aspect of his first Paralympic games.
“It’s the whole experience,” said Nguyen, the 2019 USA Shooting Air Rifle National Championship medalist. “The Olympic village, all of the athletes, the banners everywhere you go, and being able to compete on the world stage with the best in the world is amazing.”
Nguyen was injured in Afghanistan by an IED in 2012 and found out about the Army Marksmanship Unit during his rehabilitation. He has since moved over to WCAP, along with Joss, where they have both earned an impressive list of international victories.
Joss, who also competed in the 2016 Summer Games, shot in the mixed 50-meter rifle prone position alongside Nguyen. Joss, the two-time World Championship competitor, shot a score of 611.1.
“It’s nice to represent the Army and show what they can do for everybody, especially someone who has been through hardship like myself,” said Joss, a four-time World Cup competitor.
Joss, a Corsicana, Texas, native, grew up shooting but didn’t participate competitively until after his combat injury in 2007.
“I met an Army marksmanship unit Soldier at the Warrior Leadership Course,” said Joss, a 2017 Thailand World Cup medalist. “They gave me a tryout and I made the team. In the first year I broke nearly all the records they had and won several medals.”
Joss and Nguyen have been training and competing with each other for years and had the opportunity to experience the Games together.
“We have been friends and competitors, boss and subordinate for eight to nine years,” said Joss, a 2018 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup medalist. “Whenever we go we always have a really good time.”
For future plans, Joss is headed the Senior Leadership Course before jumping back into training, and Nguyen said he wants to try out to be a Green Beret at some point in his Army career.