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Marine has celebrity visitor at Burn Center

By Dr. Steven Galvan | U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Public Affairs | Oct. 11, 2017

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —

“It’s good to see family and friends, but when you see a celebrity like him, it’s a nice surprise.”

That’s what burn patient Staff Sgt. Christopher Guerrero said about his visitor, actor Gary Sinese. The award-winning actor, director and musician stopped by the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center to visit with Guerrero Sept. 15 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.

Sinese was at the Brooke Army Medical Center during his “Invincible Spirit Festival” with the Lt. Dan Band and celebrity chef Robert Irvine to celebrate the courage of wounded warriors, their families and caregivers.

“Anytime that someone with his success and status comes to see people in the hospital shows the type of character they have,” Guerrero said.  “I was familiar with who he is as a celebrity, but to meet him in person, now I have more respect and admiration for him.”

Guerrero, a Reservist with the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112 Cowboys , based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, was burned on 80 percent of his body while taking hydraulic oil samples from an F-18 Hornet during his two-week summer training at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

He said the visit from Sinese was unexpected, but much appreciated, especially since his three young sons were able to meet the celebrity.

“It was exciting for me to meet him,” Guerrero added. “But it was more exciting that my boys met him and got to take pictures with him.”

Guerrero’s three sons, ages 12, 7 and 5, had never met a celebrity like Sinese before.

“They thought it was cool to meet a celebrity,” Guerrero said. “It meant a lot to them.”

Sinese created the Gary Sinese Foundation to recognize and give back to service members, retirees, first responders and their families by traveling around the world with the Lt. Dan Band and Irvine to support those who sacrifice to defend our country through several programs to show gratitude through entertainment, family support and acts of appreciation.

The Invincible Spirit Festival is a program to boost morale at military medical centers in the U.S. for the hospital’s staff, patients and their families.

During his visit to the Burn Center, Sinese offered aid and support through his foundation to Guerrero and his family.

“I thanked him for the offer and he told me that ‘it’s not about him,’” Guerrero said.  “I think that’s what we have in common. To me, this is not about me – it’s about my boys and my family. That’s what keeps me going every day.”