Spc. Noah Strunk: “Warriors are always ready to go, and I am.”

By MaryTherese GriffinJune 20, 2024

2024 DOD Warrior Games
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Spc. Noah Strunk is pumped and ready to compete with Team Army at the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, June 18, 2024. Service members and veterans from the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, U.S. Special Operations Command, and representatives from the Australian Defence Force are competing in adaptive sports including archery, cycling, indoor-rowing, powerlifting, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby from June 21 – 30, at the Walt Disney World Resort. (U.S. Army photo by MaryTherese Griffin) (Photo Credit: MaryTherese Griffin) VIEW ORIGINAL
2023 DoD Warrior Games Challenge
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Pfc. Noah Strunk checks his swim time June 10, 2023, during the Department of Defense Warrior Games Challenge. The Games are taking place at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California, June 2-12. More than 200 wounded, ill, or injured warrior athletes representing the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Special Operations Command are competing in 11 adaptive sports including archery, track, field, swimming, rowing, shooting, powerlifting, cycling, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and wheelchair rugby.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Anthony Hopper) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Anthony Hopper)

ORLANDO, Fla., June 20, 2024 -- Competing in the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games is an exciting time for Army Spc. Noah Strunk. He never thought he would be here as an injured athlete, nor did he think he would be saying goodbye to his beloved Army.

“I told them (Army cadre) right out of basic training I wanted to stay in for twenty years – I just love the Army,” said Strunk, who is just over three years into his Army career.

The Team Army athlete will medically retire on June 28th. “I will be here at Warrior Games when I get out, so yeah, this is my swan song,” he laughed.

Strunk’s journey to being a warrior in a different way was shaped in the Army Recovery Care Program. “I ended up at the Ft Campbell Soldier Recovery Unit in Kentucky on August 10th of 2022 after I dislocated my right knee during a field training exercise,” said Strunk, a field artillery radar operator. “I had to have a corrective surgery.”

While going through physical therapy at the SRU, a break in Strunk’s, leg caused by the first surgery was discovered.

He said additional issues started his medical evaluation board process and his recovery through adaptive sports.

Strunk competed in the 2023 Warrior Games Challenge in San Diego where his fever for adaptive sports as a recovery outlet grew. He recalled how adaptive sports gave him a new purpose after learning that his Army career would end.

“It gave me a reason to get out of my room because I felt very down and depressed afterward because I love to run,” he explained. “When I couldn’t even walk and had to learn how to all over again, adaptive sports got me out of that funk.”

Strunk is thankful he is a member of Team Army this year and says he is progressing well and is embracing this bittersweet end of his journey.

“Any opportunity to be a part of the Army, I am all about it; and look at me here,” he said, proudly pointing to his Army shirt.

He channels that ‘warrior spirit’ into his current mission on Team Army. “It's determination and an unwillingness to quit,” said Strunk. “I think if somebody says go, warriors are always ready, and I am.”

Strunk is ready to compete and show his progress over the last two years.

“I’m almost back to normal,” he added. “I still can't run or cycle like I did, but here at Warrior Games, I am competing in swimming, track, and cycling. I’ve had to learn to do things differently.”

He says he will hammer home those moves with a few fellow competitors in mind. This is where the friendly smack talk makes these annual meetings even more fun.

“There are two people on the Air Force team and one on the Army Team that I am absolutely determined to stomp them in swimming,” he said, laughing about his comrades. He likes to jab at them now and then. “Look for our guys in yellow and black - we’ll always be far ahead of everybody else!”

When Strunk looks back on his journey in the Army, through the SRU, and to the Warrior Games, he will not consider it the end but a continuation that’s been quite a ride.

“You know, they always say Soldier for life, so for me, that’s how I will always be,” said Strunk. “Even though I’m not going to wear the uniform anymore, I’m still going to eat, sleep, and breathe Army.”