“Air Force” Ken Corigliano, who was among the first troops in Afghanistan in 2001, is a professional athlete in multiple endurance sports, author of a book called “State of Being” and suffers from a rare sensory ailment.
He is the guest on this week’s American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast, hosted by Jeff Daly and Ashley Gutermuth, newly named Air Force Spouse of the Year.
Corigliano, who also enlisted as a crew chief on an MC-130E and deployed to Uzbekistan in 2002, received a field commission to attend college and commission as an officer. Before his deployment he was doing a training ride on his bike when he was hit by a car.
“I had a near-death experience,” he said, explaining his rare traumatic brain injury. “All my senses got rewired.”
It’s TBI with resultant synesthesia, which allows him to use all his senses at once. He tastes what he hears and hears what he sees, for example. “When someone says banana, I see it, I taste it, I feel it …”
Corigliano puts his “super power” to work for good.
After struggling with math his entire life, he decided to try to learn quantum physics. Eight months later, he was the keynote speaker at an international quantum physics conference. “It was pretty cool. I’m able to take advantage of it.”
It has also helped him grow as an athlete. “It made me the best athlete,” he said. “I’m arguably the most accomplished athlete in American history. I haven’t found anyone who has won more races or been on the podium more than me.”
He has been a triathlete for 17 years, competes in Spartan races and other endurance challenges.
“Health, fitness and mental health is the No. 1 thing in the world right now,” he said, acknowledging The American Legion’s Be the One initiative that aims to reduce the veteran suicide rate by lessening the stigma associated with mental health.
Daly and Gutermuth also discuss:
• A panel of four-star female generals talk about how far women have come in the military, and what more needs to happen. “I love how they have stepped up and are talking about it,” says Gutermuth, who is married to an Air Force pilot. “I can’t wait until it’s not even a thing anymore.”
• A monumental moment for a Marine Corps expeditionary force.
• “Tom Cruise can’t get enough of the Navy life, and the Navy can’t get enough of Tom Cruise.” He’s filming another movie on an aircraft carrier.
Check out this week’s episode, which is among about 170 Tango Alpha Lima podcasts available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on iTunes, Google Play or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion’s YouTube channel.