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Lt. Andrew Kinard

USMC (Ret.), Wounded Warrior Project Board Member

2013 Undergraduate Commencement Speaker

First Lt. Andrew Kinard, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was deployed to the Al Anbar province of Iraq in 2006 as an infantry platoon commander. While leading a team of U.S. Marines on a routine foot patrol, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded directly under his feet. The damage resulted in the amputation of both of his legs at the hip. He suffered massive wounds to his abdomen and was in a coma for a month. In all, he endured more than 70 surgeries, as well as a year and a half of physical rehabilitation. It was during his lengthy recovery that he resolved to overcome his difficult circumstances and impact the world in a meaningful way. "I have to choose not to think about what I've lost, but instead be very thankful for what I've still got."

While waiting for medical retirement from the Marine Corps, Lt. Kinard interned in the Office of Legislative Counsel at the Pentagon and served as a military fellow in the office of a United States Senator. Since retirement, he has served on the board of directors of Wounded Warrior Project, a national charity that seeks to honor and empower veterans disabled in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An extreme-sports enthusiast while in the Naval Academy, Lt. Kinard returned to athletics during his recovery, handcycling in noncompetitive rides sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project. While studying at Harvard, he has trained for and completed several Boston Marathons on his handcycle. It's one way he exercises control, not letting his injuries completely define his life. "It's a decision I have to make every day," he said. "It never goes away, but it's a commitment that I made."

Lt. Kinard's awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Navy Achievement Medal with Combat "V," and the Combat Action Ribbon, among others. He is currently completing a joint degree from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School.

For inspiring a nation through his service and perseverance; for exemplifying the steadfast character that is central to the spirit of Iona; for serving as a beacon of hope for other wounded warriors -- and helping them through his continued service; and for illustrating the value and importance of higher education, Iona College hereby confers on ANDREW KINARD the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.