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By Airman 1st Class Kaitlin Castillo, Space Base Delta 1 Public Affairs
/ Published October 17, 2022
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Guor Maker, 21st Dental Squadron dental technician, poses for a photo at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, Oct. 17, 2022. Maker was recognized as Space Base Delta 1’s outstanding performer for the month of October. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlin Castillo)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Guor Maker, 21st Dental Squadron dental technician, runs during his lunch break at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, Oct. 17, 2022. Maker participated in the USAF World Class Athlete Program and is a two-time Olympian who competed in the men’s marathon event in the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlin Castillo)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Guor Maker, 21st Dental Squadron dental technician, poses for a photo during run at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, Oct. 17, 2022. Maker continues training every day and hopes to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. (U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlin Castillo)
PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. – U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Guor Maker, 21st Dental Squadron dental technician, is Space Base Delta 1’s outstanding performer for the month of October.
To imagine how Maker came to be the Airman he is today warrants looking at the life he endured in his early years and the fortitude he built as a result.
Maker grew up in South Sudan for the first eight years of his life. During the Second Sudanese Civil War, he escaped slavery twice before finding safety at his uncle’s home. Unfortunately, his sanctuary ended when he was forced to flee once again, leaving most of his family behind. He was granted refugee status in the United States two years later.
“Around the time I left my family, I had to develop a self-sustaining mindset,” Maker said.
Coming to a new country with a completely different culture and language was a hurdle, but that would not stop Maker from achieving greatness. He did know a universal language -- running.
After being encouraged by his high school gym teacher, Maker joined the school’s track and field team. His initial perspective was slightly skewed from his classmates though as Maker viewed the sport as more than a competition among peers. Running meant survival back home; it was how he escaped a war and slavery.
“I didn’t like running, even in high school,” Maker recalled. “My coach talked me into it as a way to make friends, and later it turned into a passion. It gave me a purpose.”
Maker shared his drive is to elevate his people back home as well as bring awareness and hope for South Sudan.
After graduating from high school with a trail of accolades, he accepted a scholarship and ran for Iowa State College in 2005. Less than a decade later, Maker would push his personal record to a new extreme by qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics men’s marathon in London, England, as an Independent Olympic Participant.
Athletes can participate in the Olympic Games without representing a specific nation for various reasons. Since South Sudan was a new nation, the National Olympic Committee had not yet been established and therefore allowed Maker to complete as an independent.
The following year, Maker became a dual citizen of the United States and the new nation of South Sudan. He once again qualified to run in the 2016 Olympic marathon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this time under the flag of his people.
“It’s a hard feeling to describe,” Maker said. “It’s something unique. Especially when you walk into the stadium during the opening ceremony; it’s always special. You’re among the special people who made it.”
In 2018, at the age of 34, Maker decided to join the USAF. When reflecting on why he decided to wear the uniform, he recalled the kindness he received from the communities that supported him during the tough years of training and studying.
“I wasn’t able to go to each and every person who helped me along the way and just say, ‘thank you,’” Maker said. “The best way to say thank you to the country as a whole was to put on the uniform and serve.”
Maker was quickly chosen to become a part of the USAF World Class Athlete Program from 2019 to 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic did not allow him to train as hard as he would have liked, leading him to continue training on his own.
He later suffered a back injury and was unable to run for a year. While it was hard for him to stop from pushing himself to his limits, he wanted to make sure he was completely healed before resuming the level of training he was before.
During the duty day, Maker can be seen at the 21st Dental Squadron’s front desk checking people in, working with patient records, and running the Dental Fly Program as well as the Dental Records Request Program.
“Senior Airman Maker is a joy to work with,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Harris, 21st Dental Squadron senior enlisted leader. “He brings the same work ethic that he has as a World Class Athlete to work with him every day here at Peterson Dental Clinic.”
Maker is coming up to a crossroad and weighing what the future holds -- whether that is commissioning into the U.S. Space Force or looking at routes in the civilian sector. Either way, Maker has a goal.
“I hope to participate in the next Olympics,” said Maker. “I still have the spirit.”
The next Olympics in 2024 is slated to be held in Paris, France. Maker continues his gradual training daily, often using his lunch break to run on base amid the Rocky Mountain landscape.
After his time in service, Maker hopes to open a school and a hospital in his home village in South Sudan. His story of valor and his patriotism is the essence of what it means to serve selflessly. While his harrowing past has brought him to where he is now, his devotion to making the world a better place is why he was selected to be recognized as October’s Outstanding Performer of the Month.