John Quinn is brutally honest in his book, "Someone Like Me."
In it, he tells of his failed first attempt to join the U.S. Navy — because he failed the seemingly simple maneuver of the duck walk.
The reason was clear to Quinn, but not anyone else — Quinn suffered from cerebral palsy (CP) since birth.
But as Quinn tells it, he's not a quitter. So, in the ensuing year, he trained his body to squat, and then to walk while squatting. Then he tried again and passed all the physical requirements to be accepted into the Navy, including the duck walk.
Yet Quinn never told anyone that he had CP, and for 20 years he deceived the Navy and his shipmates through a painful and often humorous cover-up of his symptoms.
During his hitch in the Navy, he served as a battleship sailor on board the USS Iowa and other ships, served with the Navy SEALs and recently retired at age 46 at the rank of senior chief petty officer. "Someone Like Me" is the memoir of his experiences.
"Life in the Navy is demanding, especially at sea, both physically and mentally," Quinn said. "I had to keep up my appearance, to always be aware of my body and my surroundings."
During Navy boot camp, Quinn suffered a slight injury, but the event would serve as a ready excuse in many future instances when one of his comrades would notice there wasn't something quite right about him.
"When I was tired, I would drag my feet a bit," Quinn said. "And I run differently than most people because my left leg swings out and my arms don't move in a natural motion. It's pretty obvious that something is not quite right, but when people asked me, I told them I got hurt in boot camp."
During his 20-year tour, Quinn also served on the USS Chandler, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, the USS Point Defiance and the USS John C. Stennis.
He also was part of SEAL Team Three as one of a cadre of sailors who put the unit together before its commissioning date.
"I was there at the start of SEAL Team Three in October 1983," Quinn said. "I received a plank of the ship as a souvenir of my time on board and was honored to be part of the unit, although not on its sharp end."
Quinn said it was difficult to hide his cerebral palsy for 20 years, noting that he "got through it with a lot of fortitude and mental discipline."
His 20-year concealment begs the question: Why did he do it?
"I wanted to serve my country," he said. "I only wanted to be treated as a sailor and didn't want my condition to change people's perspective of me. I wanted to be like everybody else and to have a level playing field where I could prove to myself and others that I could perform, which I did."
Quinn said he hopes that his book and speaking publicly about his condition can help others to overcome their adversities by sharing his experiences.
For more on Quinn and his book, go to www.johnwquinn.com.