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June 18, 2013

Local wounded warrior surprises self with top 10 finish in first 10K race

GREENVILLE — One year ago, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Flores sustained shrapnel wounds in his back from a suicide car bomber in Afghanistan. Last Sunday, he placed seventh in his age group in the Wounded Warrior 10K in Irving.

The finish is remarkable not only because of Jonathan’s recent injuries, but also because he was running in his first race.

“I love running,” he said. “I usually run two to three miles every other day, but after this 10K, I plan on running a half marathon.”

His experience was somewhat dampened by rain, which caused delays and made for some tough conditions.

“I showed up in shorts and a t-shirt, and some of the people there were fanatics — they had the whole getup,” he said. “Halfway through I thought ‘What am I doing here?’ It was miserable the whole time because of the rain, but I kept a good mind set.”

His wife, Jill, his three boys Parker, Peyton and Paxton and his niece Shaley Treat helped keep his spirits up by cheering for him during the race.

Jonathan’s top 10 finish was a surprise.

“When I finished, I only saw a handful of people, so I thought I might have cut somewhere or done something wrong,” he said. “The top six were all cross country runners from a high school or college — they blew past all of us.”

Flores moved to Greenville in 1999 and joined the United States Army in 2003. He was deployed twice to Iraq before reenlisting. Subsequently, he was deployed to Afghanistan, when about halfway through his deployment he was wounded.

“I was walking with two of my team leaders to a store off base when a truck carrying 10,000 pounds of explosives hit our perimeter,” he said. “I received shrapnel in the back, one of my team leaders lost his arm. Shortly afterwards, 10 insurgents entered the area and we crawled to a bunker and exchanged fire with them. It was a crazy day.”

Jonathan, who is now in the reserves, was invited to run in the 10K earlier this year. The event honored the men and women of the military and raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project and Fisher House.

Following the 10K and the half marathon was a post-party with food, drink and live music provided by country music artist Dave Roberts.

The Wounded Warrior Project works to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, provides programs and services to injured service members and helps injured service members aid and assist each other.

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