This past weekend, I cleaned the house, fixed a hole in my fence, and wrote the 1st draft of three posts for this website. I was feeling pretty good about myself and feeling quite accomplished…and then I read about Jonny Kim. That’s DOCTOR Jonny Kim, a former Navy SEAL. Oh, and did I mention he’s an astronaut now?
Jonny Kim was born in Los Angeles, CA, the eldest son of immigrant parents from South Korea. He attended Santa Monica High School where he claims that he was a mediocre student, with only a 3.67 average (the horror!!). His parents owned a liquor store and had hoped that he and his brother would become white-collar professionals (lawyer, doctor, that sort of thing).
In school, he was athletic and popular, but without much of a direction of what he wanted to do after high school. He wanted to stretch his wings and have an adventure, so he joined the Navy. And the quiet professionalism of the special operations forces drew him. So, he signed up for SEAL training.
For those not in the know, Navy SEAL training (called BUD/S for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) is considered to be one of the (if not THE) toughest training regiments in the US armed forces. Of the roughly 180 men who started with him in BUD/S class 247, only 60 completed the course. And that was just the beginning. It’d be another two years before he was a fully-fledged SEAL and be sent in harm’s way.
Kim served as a combat medic, sniper, navigator, and point man for SEAL Team 3, Iraq, and was deployed in 2006 and 2008 on over 100 combat missions. He earned a Silver Star and a Bronze Star with a Combat “V”.
It was in Ramadi in 2006 that he developed an interest in and a passion for medicine. He had been the corpsman for his team when his best friend was shot. “He had a pretty grave wound to the face,” Kim said. “It was one of the worst feelings of helplessness. There wasn’t much I could do, just make sure his bleeding wasn’t obstructing his airway, making sure he was positioned well. He needed a surgeon. He needed a physician and I did eventually get him to one, but … that feeling of helplessness was very profound for me….Seeing firsthand how the surgeon was there to save lives and limbs, and even to save the function of some people’s limbs — just looking at that inspired me.”
So he used a Navy program that helps veterans go to college and on to medical school to go to the University of San Diego where he majored in mathematics as well as being a pre-med. He had to have at least 18-21 credits every semester, including the summers, because that’s what the program required as a minimum. Well, Dr.Kim completed his undergraduate studies in 3 years, graduating summa cum laude. And then he went to Harvard Medical School.
He graduated from medical school in 2016 and went on to begin his Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. If that wasn’t enough, he applied for the NASA astronaut candidate program – where they only select once every four years. In June 2017, he discovered that he was one of 12 that had been selected from more than 18,000 applicants.
Congratulations to Dr. Jonny Kim for your accomplishments, and for being a shining example of awesomeness.