B.J. Penn motivates wounded warriors

B.J. Penn
B.J. Penn

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE (KHNL) - Hilo's B.J. Penn is in Honolulu. But it has nothing to do with mixed martial arts.

Instead, a special group from the military got a chance to get up close and personal with the champ.

Penn admits he was nervous speaking to the wounded warriors, but he also says it was honor to answer their questions and get to know some of them.

In just a half hour, the wounded warriors got a crash course on what it feels like to be B.J. Penn.

"It's a great privilege for him to come out and see us, most of all, that's very important, someone who has status like that, to come out and see the troops, that's just totally motivating," SSG Shawn Garrett of the U.S. Marines, a wounded warrior said.

And motivate is what Penn did.

"Just so they know that there's people out there that supports them because, a lot of times, you get wounded and you come back and you're kind of just here and you really don't know how much people are out there supporting and really care about what happens to you," he said.

As expected, Penn mostly talked about his life in the octagon. For many of the wounded warriors, it was their first time seeing penn in the flesh.

They say it's a moment they'll soon never forget. Penn admits that he won't either.

"If you can get one smile on their face or make them laugh, just happy with that," he said.

The UFC lightweight champ flew with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds Friday afternoon. He heads back to California Saturday to train for his next fight against Diego Sanchez on December 12th.