Former slave, 2-time Olympian becomes an Airman
A new chapter for a man who has already accomplished so much focuses on the United States Air Force.
put out by Joint Base San Antonio, Airman 1st Class Guor Maker found his way out of war-torn South Sudan, Africa nearly 20 years ago. From there he moved to the United States, became an Olympian, and is now serving in the United States Air Force.
“The country I came from was torn apart by war,” said Maker in the release. “It was all I knew growing up, nothing else. I’ve seen people die in front of me, but I knew no matter what, I had to make it.”
But obstacle after obstacle stood in his way. The Air Force says Maker was captured and enslaved twice: once by Sudanese soldiers and once by herdsmen.
“When I was captured, I was forced to be a slave laborer,” Maker said. “I would wash dishes or do anything else needed to get by. I slept in a small cell and rarely got to eat…but not always.”
He finally made it to his uncle's home, only to find that safe haven no longer was so. The home was attacked and Maker sustained serious injuries when he was beaten unconscious by a soldier who smashed his jaw with a rifle.
“My mouth was shut for two months and I could only consume liquids because my jaw was broken,” he said. “We fled to Egypt after that, and the United Nations treated my injuries.”
It took two years, but Maker and his uncle's family were able to enter the United States. He arrived in 2001, settling in New Hampshire.
Now Maker was safe, but in a land where the language and customs were unfamiliar. He began another journey: learning English. He spent his days watching children’s cartoons and hanging out with his high school friends, just to absorb their conversations.
He found refuge during this transitional time: sports. And Maker quickly revealed himself as an elite runner, winning the National High School indoor 2-mile and receiving a scholarship to compete at Iowa State University.
His incredible journey still wasn't over.
The Air Force says Maker graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and reached All-American status as a student-athlete. Ready to start his new life. Maker planned to head to Flagstaff, Arizona to train for the 2012 Olympics. Maker qualified for the 2012 and 2016 Summer Games.
More recently, he committed more to the United States by serving with the Air Force. Maker hopes to join the Air Force World Class Athlete Program, a program designed to allow elite athletes the opportunity to train and compete in national events to make the Olympics. He also wants to make the 2020 Olympics where he’ll have the opportunity to represent his new home and the country that gave him so much.
“Joining the greatest Air Force in the world has been an absolute miracle,” said Maker. “I can’t wait to see what this next chapter holds for me.”