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Sean Parnell is a third generation Western Pennsylvania native, born in Pittsburgh and raised in nearby Murrysville. Sean was studying elementary education at Clarion University when the towers came down on September 11. He immediately transferred to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in order to join the ROTC program. Upon graduation, Sean was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army and went on to Airborne and Ranger school, before joining the elite 10th Mountain Division.
Sean spent 485 days of fierce fighting along the Afghan-Pakistan border in 2006-2007, where he honed his unique leadership skills and welded his platoon into one of the most fierce and effective
American fighting units in modern military history. Repeatedly outnumbered and outgunned by a foe whose avowed purpose was to overrun his platoon, Sean’s “Outlaws” battled furiously in the most rugged terrain on the planet—the towering Hindu Kush Mountains. Eighty-five percent of his platoon received Purple Hearts for wounds incurred in battle, but his men gave far more than they received. Outlaw Platoon killed over 350 enemy fighters in some of the biggest firefights of the Afghan War. His platoon remains one of the most decorated Army units since 9-11.
Sean was wounded in action on June 10, 2006, when his platoon was nearly overrun, for the first time, by a force that outnumbered them almost ten to one. Refusing to leave his men as they battled the enemy at point-blank range, Sean was knocked unconscious and wounded two more times during the firefight. After the June 10, 2006 battle, he continued to suffer from untreated head and neurological wounds. For weeks after, cerebral-spinal fluid leaked from his ears and nose while he continued to patrol with his men. His dedication to his men came at great personal cost: when he returned home following the ‘06 deployment, his wounds forced him from the Army, and he was medically discharged.
Sean retired a highly decorated Captain and was awarded two Bronze Stars, one for Valor and the Purple Heart. Upon leaving the Army, he immediately came home to Western PA, where he returned to Duquesne University to earn a master’s degree in psychology and started a family. Sean has three children—Ethan, Emma, and Evan.
Since leaving the Army, Sean has penned the New York Times best-selling book, Outlaw Platoon, which is the story of his platoon’s crucible of combat in Eastern Afghanistan. He is a subject matter expert on Afghanistan, the insurgency we face there, leadership, and how to use it to inspire and motivate men and women to achieve common objectives. He has also authored three additional fiction novels.
As co-founder of the American Warrior Initiative (AWI), an organization that inspires people to give back to our nation’s veterans, Sean has quietly become one of America’s most influential advocates for our military and veterans. AWI gives service dogs to disabled veterans, first responders, and their families. Sean worked to pass the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014, which later became the Mission Act and signed by the President, as well as helping to get the VA Accountability Act passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives, in 2015.