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    From Paralysis to Competitive Bodybuilding – One Sailor’s Story of Grit and Determination

    From Paralysis to Competitive Bodybuilding – One Sailor’s Story of Grit and Determination

    Courtesy Photo | 210501-N-N0484-0003 SAN ANTONIO, Texas (May 1, 2021) – Cryptologic Technician...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Center for Information Warfare Training

    By Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Jason Sikora, Information Warfare Training Command Monterey Detachment Goodfellow

    GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas– As restrictions slowly lift for COVID-19, our nation’s Navy is getting back into the practice of group physical training, and while the Navy has its standards, there are some Sailors who go way above and beyond the requirements. One of those Sailors is Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 1st Class Gino Bua who is attached to Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC) Monterey Detachment Goodfellow.

    Born and raised in South Side Chicago, Bua always had a competitive edge to his personality. In addition to general fitness, he was also a star volleyball player at Northern Illinois University. In 2009, after attending university, he said he made his smartest life decision to date and joined the United States Navy.

    After boot camp and “A” school, his first duty station was Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Georgia. Never one to sit still, Bua opened his own gym where he trained dozens of people in powerlifting and competitive CrossFit. Among both amateur and professional circles, he and his team won 25 CrossFit competitions in the Georgia region. But, like all Sailors in the Navy, his time came to change duty stations.

    He transferred to CTF-70 Forward Deployed Naval Forces. Still maintaining his physical fitness standards, this is where deployed life became busy for Bua. In addition to his information warfare specialist designation that he earned in Georgia, CTF-70 is where he earned both his air and surface warfare specialist designations. From CTF-70, he transferred to Hawaii where he remained for seven years at NIOC and Pacific Fleet Hawaii commands.

    Hawaii is where Bua really started to amplify his fitness culture. Following his previous model in Georgia, he opened another gym. He and his team began to compete professionally in CrossFit. In 2017, after training for a full year, they competed at the CrossFit games in California, which was nationally broadcast by ESPN. During the three-day competition, he suffered incredible back pain due to an intense exercise. He and his team were required to lift a 600-pound, 12-foot long sandbag a total of 60 times as fast as possible. Being the tallest of his teammates, he ended up carrying too much weight at an awkward angle, causing significant muscle tears and pressure on his spine.

    After taking a week off to recover, Bua traveled to Mount Hood, Oregon, to relax and snowboard down the mountain. He went off the trail and boarded down the back end of the mountain where he hit a patch of ice and became airborne. His momentum and direction forced his body to spin around where his back was facing the direction of his flight. He crashed into large tree. The collision immediately rendered him unconscious, which may have saved him from the shock and pain of four fractured vertebrae, three herniated discs, a caved lumbar spinal wall, a concussion, and a traumatic brain injury. Although he was lucky enough not to sever his spinal cord, the combination of his injuries left Bua in a state of lower-body paralysis for weeks. When the hospital deemed him well enough to be transferred to Hawaii, he left Oregon and stayed in Tippler Army Medical Center for approximately two months. He underwent four surgeries and is still due for a fifth.

    During his time at Tippler, Bua spent roughly 14 hours a day researching people who had recovered from similar injuries. He read hundreds of medical journals about his condition as he worked on his mobility and auxiliary exercises. This is also where he made the decision to eat a completely plant-based diet. After leave

    ng Tippler, he was given 18 months of limited duty (LIMDU), and if he was able to recover, then he could stay in the Navy. Bua took this as a challenge and increased his mobility using the same methods he learned in the hospital – little by little, and one day at a time. Eventually, he was walking again.

    Although he was not able to run, he was able to get to the gym to do basic exercises. During his physical therapy sessions, a lot of that training was learning how to exercise other muscles that the body doesn’t typically use – for physical therapy, it was a way to increase mobility and self-sufficiency. Essentially, these movements and exercises were the same practices involved in bodybuilding. This was Bua’s gateway into the competitive world of bodybuilding. After his 18 months of LIMDU, his medical board decided to retain him.

    Since Bua was 17 years old, he was consistently involved in some form of competition. After his setback, he made a conscious choice to continue that path and compete once more. His options had become limited, but bodybuilding was both attainable and good for his recovery. In 2019, Bua was given the “OK” to start lifting. He trained for two months and hit yet another roadblock – he tore his Achilles tendon and was not able to walk for six months. After more therapy, more building, and a strict diet, he was able to compete. In early 2020, Bua entered his first bodybuilding competition where he won his height and weight division and placed second overall. This qualified him for the state championship of Texas.

    In early 2021, Bua competed in the State Championship of Texas Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders in San Antonio, Texas. He won third place overall and qualified for nationals, which will be held in September 2021 in Austin, Texas. If he wins that competition he will move from amateur to professional, acquire a professional contract, and possibly pick up corporate sponsors.

    Since July 2020, Bua has been a Navy Instructor at IWTC Monterey Detachment Goodfellow. To date, Bua has facilitated three classes of the Navy Analysis and Reporting Course. He continues to be an example of fitness, professionalism, and a living example of the Navy’s core values. His students praise him and the staff rally with him in support of both his competitive bodybuilding and Navy career endeavors.

    IWTC Monterey Detachment Goodfellow is aligned under IWTC Monterey. As part of the CIWT domain, they provide a continuum of foreign language training to Navy personnel, which prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.

    With four schoolhouse commands, a detachment, and training sites throughout the United States and Japan, CIWT trains approximately 26,000 students every year, delivering trained information warfare professionals to the Navy and joint services. CIWT also offers more than 200 courses for cryptologic technicians, intelligence specialists, information systems technicians, electronics technicians, and officers in the information warfare community.

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    Date Taken: 05.17.2021
    Date Posted: 05.17.2021 23:35
    Story ID: 396645

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