Retired U.S. Army Captain Juan Guerrero was just an adolescent when, in 1986, he and his family immigrated to the United States from their native Lima, Peru. After moving to Miami, Florida, from Parsippany, New Jersey, when he was 17 years old, he graduated from Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School and soon after made plans to join the Armed Forces.
During the Gulf War in 1990, Guerrero deployed to Saudi Arabia with B Company 1/3, 3rd Marine Regiment known as the “Lava Dogs,” based at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii.
Years later, on July 26, 2007, Guerrero, who at the time had 350 missions under his belt, and his convoy were driving back from a mission when an explosively formed penetrator (EFP), the single-most lethal weapon American forces faced in Iraq, according to the New York Times, struck his vehicle. The same weapon had previously killed Guerrero’s gunner during a mission a year earlier along the same road.
The EFP detonated approximately 25 feet ahead of his vehicle, whose fragments penetrated the bottom of his door, striking his rifle before going through his right calf. He broke his tibia, fractured his left ankle and the skin and muscle surrounding it. His lower legs were severely injured.
In June 2014, he developed a rare form of skin cancer on his left heel, which resulted in Guerrero’s left leg being amputated below the knee two years later. He is now a double amputee below the knees and is cancer-free.
Juan, his wife, Shannon, and their children Denali, Lennox, Sterling, and Theodore currently live in San Antonio. Their specially adapted smart home will be built in Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort in Boerne, Texas.