Face of Defense: Video Highlights Airman’s ‘Interesting’ Resilience

January 11, 2018

LOUISVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 11, 2018 — A video feature that highlights an airman’s setback and recovery from open heart surgery was published online recently by the Air National Guard’s training and education center.

“I had wanted to produce a feature video about overcoming adversity this year and found Sergeant Wither’s story compelling,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Kelly Collett, a videographer assigned to the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, Tennessee.

Collett produced the video, “The Most Interesting Man in the Guard,” which highlights Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Shaun Withers, the production branch superintendent at the education center, and how heart surgery altered his active lifestyle. The video can be accessed at

In the video, according to Collett’s description, Withers returned to the kind of fun-loving activities that make for an interesting character: home brewing, sky-diving, motorcycling and ice hockey. He also fits the Air Force’s overall message of mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness.

‘It is Flattering’

“Honestly, it is flattering to have a story produced on this,” said Withers, who leads a public affairs team that develops professional and continuing education products. “I don’t much like the spotlight, but if it helps someone else then it’s worth any embarrassment it might cause. It’s a story of resiliency wrapped in a fun package, and that’s what the Air Force is talking about.”

Recovery did not get off to the perfect start for Withers. During his first few months after surgery, Withers said he was dismayed and thrown off of his adventures. Those close to him told him to shed his fears and get active again.

“I’ve never been a sit-on-the-couch guy,” Withers said. So, the feature shows Withers is back enjoying life in many ways, as he recently scored above 90 percent at his latest physical fitness test.

Withers said that the things that make him “interesting” to some and no different to others might be same qualities. He’s an airman who likes to enjoy life. His story is personal.