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Mammoth High School 2009 graduate Jess Vint was not perhaps the first student in his class who might have been expected to be successful at anything.
He was, by his own admission, a middling student, a middling athlete, and a middling person.
He was frustrated, bored, and unchallenged.
“I had a hard time justifying the things I did,” he said. Vint is the son of Mammoth’s Susie Booth (formerly Susie’s Subs owner) and the former step-son of George Booth, Mono County District Attorney. It wasn’t like he did things he was ashamed of. It was more that what he did do just didn’t hold much meaning for him.
“I wanted to do something that mattered to me and to test myself,” he said.
So he did.
In 2009, months before he graduated, he signed up with the U.S. Army. He went into Basic Training on Oct. 1, 2009, with a broken collarbone that he had incurred in Mammoth three months prior.
Against the odds, he earned the coveted “Iron Man” designation, graduating at the top of his troop in physical fitness in early February 2010. He headed to Iraq in March 2010 and served in combat operations as a member of 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division until March 2011.
Due to his performance, he was promoted and then selected to attend Warrior Leadership Course in 2011. He was later awarded a slot to attend Army Ranger School; considered to be “one of the toughest combat courses in the world.” He entered Ranger school on Jan. 29 and graduated about 28 pounds lighter on March 30.
Two weeks ago, on April 13 and just weeks short of his 21st birthday, Vint was awarded the prestigious Silver Spurs—an award granted only to those in the U.S. Army Cavalry who show exceptional leadership, tactical, technical, physical and mental abilities under extreme levels of stress and fatigue.
He will soon be up for a promotion to Sergeant.
And he’s only just getting started.
“I try to live by this quote,” he said. “It’s from Jack London’s The Sea Wolf and it goes something like this: ‘If another man has done it, I can do it. And if it has not yet been done, then still I can still do it.’”
The Times spoke to Vint while he was stationed at Ft. Carson, Colorado.
“I’m almost completely internally motivated,” he said. “I’m not trying to compete with anyone—it’s with myself … to be the kind of man I want to be. But also, I have been lucky enough to have many mentors along the way who have helped me out more than I probably deserve. One of those mentors once told me something that I have never forgotten: ‘On most days I feel like going to the gym because one day it might save my life. On other days when I don’t feel like going to the gym I still go because someday it could save yours.’ I try to carry that thought with me whenever I train.
“I deploy with people’s husband’s, father’s, and brothers,” Vint said. “I think we all work extra hard because at the end of the day, we want to know we did everything we could to keep all of our team members alive, in both preparation and execution.”
Vint knows he’s come a long ways from being a Mammoth High School “mediocre” athlete, and he has no intention on stopping now.
“We got to work with the some coaches from the Olympic Training Center here in Colorado,” he said. “There was one guy there that had a Master’s in Physical Fitness. I had never heard of such a degree. He gave me a workout program that gained me 15 pounds in four months and took two minutes off my two-mile run time. That was amazing. I’d like to go to school for a similar degree.”
What’s next for Vint?
“I know exactly what I want to be doing in five years,” he said. “But I’d rather not tell you what it is,” he said with a laugh.
But he did say he’s going to continue his climb up the ladder in the U.S. Army.