Kirstie Ennis Husband: From Marine Corps to Mountaineering

Kirstie Ennis Husband: From Marine Corps to Mountaineering

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Written By Joe Martin

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Kirstie Ennis, a decorated amputee veteran, has not only captured the admiration of Prince Harry but also the hearts of many around the world.

Her story of resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit is set to be honored with the prestigious Pat Tillman Award for Service. This award, named after former NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary service and leadership, much like Ennis herself.

Kirstie Ennis: A Marine’s Journey

At just 17 years old, Kirstie Ennis enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps with dreams of a long military career. Despite her parents’ initial hesitations, she embarked on this journey with determination.

However, her path took a tragic turn during her second tour of duty in Afghanistan when a helicopter crash in 2012 left her with severe injuries. The crash resulted in the amputation of her left leg and required numerous surgeries to address the extensive damage to her body and brain.

The Crash That Changed Everything

The helicopter crash in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, was a turning point in Ennis’s life. On that fateful day in June 2012, Ennis and her team were on a mission to resupply ammunition and transport soldiers.

Mid-flight, their helicopter began to nosedive, leaving Ennis and her comrades helplessly strapped into their seats. The crash shattered the helicopter and left Ennis with life-threatening injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, a shattered jaw, and severe damage to her leg.

Despite the intense pain and trauma, Ennis’s fighting spirit remained intact. She credits an Army medic for saving her life by providing critical care until she could be transported to medical facilities. The severity of her injuries became apparent when she spoke to her mother for the first time after the crash, struggling to communicate due to her extensive facial injuries.

A Long Road to Recovery

Ennis’s recovery journey has been long and arduous. She has undergone 38 surgeries to reconstruct her face, repair broken bones, and address her brain injury.

The initial months in the hospital were the hardest, as she struggled to regain basic functions like eating and speaking. Her memory and cognitive abilities were also affected, making the road to recovery even more challenging.

Despite these obstacles, Ennis’s determination never wavered. She resumed her education, pursuing a master’s degree in psychology, and found solace in adaptive sports. Snowboarding became a significant part of her rehabilitation, allowing her to push her physical limits and regain a sense of normalcy.

From Military Service to Extreme Adventures

Retiring from the military after six years, Ennis faced the daunting task of redefining her future. Adaptive snowboarding became her new passion, providing an outlet for her competitive spirit and a path to the Paralympics. She quickly excelled in the sport and is now ranked fifth in the world in women’s snowboard cross by the International Paralympic Committee.

Ennis’s journey didn’t stop there. Her adventurous spirit led her to participate in extreme challenges, including a 1,000-mile trek across Britain with Walking with the Wounded. During this walk, she left mementos in memory of her fallen comrades, honoring their sacrifice and finding a sense of purpose in their memory.

Honoring a Hero: The Pat Tillman Award

Ennis’s remarkable story of resilience and service has earned her the Pat Tillman Award for Service. This award, presented at the ESPYS, celebrates individuals with a strong connection to sports who have demonstrated a commitment to serving others. Marie Tillman, co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation, sees Ennis’s drive and courage as a reflection of Pat Tillman’s legacy.

Ennis’s response to receiving the award is one of profound gratitude and humility. She admires Tillman’s passion and conviction and feels honored to be recognized alongside him. Her life’s mission has been to look forward and continue pushing her limits, inspired by the legacy of Tillman and her fellow soldiers.

Looking to the Future

Kirstie Ennis’s journey is far from over. She continues to set ambitious goals, including an attempt to complete seven marathons on seven continents within a year. Her relentless pursuit of new challenges is a testament to her resilience and determination to live life to the fullest.

Her bond with Prince Harry, forged during the Walking with the Wounded trek, highlights her dedication to helping others. Ennis’s story is a powerful example of how overcoming personal adversity can inspire and uplift those around you.


Kirstie Ennis’s journey from a dedicated Marine to an inspirational figure in adaptive sports and extreme adventures is a story of incredible resilience and determination.

Her ability to overcome immense physical and mental challenges while continuing to serve and inspire others embodies the spirit of the Pat Tillman Award for Service. As she looks to the future with new goals and challenges, Ennis remains a beacon of hope and inspiration for many.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Kirstie Ennis?

Kirstie Ennis is a former U.S. Marine who became an amputee veteran after a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. She is known for her resilience, extreme sports achievements, and dedication to helping others.

What is the Pat Tillman Award for Service?

The Pat Tillman Award for Service is an award given at the ESPYS to honor individuals with a strong connection to sports who have demonstrated a commitment to serving others.

How did Kirstie Ennis bond with Prince Harry?

Kirstie Ennis and Prince Harry bonded during the Walking with the Wounded trek in 2015, where they both participated in a 1,000-mile walk across Britain to support injured veterans.

What extreme sports does Kirstie Ennis participate in?

Kirstie Ennis is an adaptive snowboarder and has also attempted to summit Mount Everest. She continues to pursue extreme sports and has plans to run marathons on all seven continents.

What inspired Kirstie Ennis to pursue adaptive sports?

After her military retirement and extensive recovery, Ennis found adaptive sports as a way to regain physical strength and a sense of normalcy. Snowboarding, in particular, became a significant part of her rehabilitation and competitive spirit.

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