Renaissance Rams

Author, Athlete, Soldier, Doctor.

John Gouin poses and smiles in his medical lab coat

After an injury derailed his plans to play professional football, the military opened new paths for John Gouin ’83.

Dr. John R. Gouin ’83 grew up in Woonsocket, R.I. A high school and college athlete, he attended URI from 1971–75 and aspired to an NFL career until an injury threw him off course. He left school, angry and struggling, and proceeded to make “a series of bad choices.”

When it became clear to him that he needed to rethink his path, he decided to join the U.S. Army. His Special Forces A-Team unit had one medic but needed another. He agreed to take on the role, and the other medic trained him. Those two decisions were life-changing.

“The military,” Gouin says, “can make or break you. I’m grateful for what it did for me.” He says he came away “changed and committed to my education.” He returned to URI in 1980 to finish his degree.

Gouin received his doctor of podiatric medicine degree from Scholl College and completed three years of post-grad surgical training in Chicago. He has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, and practiced podiatry with Corpus Christi Podiatry for 30 years. He is the chief of podiatry at the VA clinic in Harlingen, Texas.

He served his country honorably for nearly 36 years and retired in 2012 as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. His last assignment was as commander of the 228th Combat Support Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal for Service during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005, and the Order of Military Medical Merit. He is Special Forces-qualified and is a distinguished military graduate from URI’s ROTC program.

Gouin was a member of the 1973 URI football team, which was the first American college football team to play a game in Europe—they prevailed over the U.S. Air Force All-Stars in a Thanksgiving Day matchup in Germany. Gouin returned to URI for a reunion with the 1973 team this past October.

He is the author of An Unforgettable Salute: Skirmishes, Battlefields, and Making Peace with My Father (2010). He was inspired to write the book while serving in Iraq, which, he says, “changed my life completely and forever.” He has several other book ideas that are currently works in progress.

—Barbara Caron

Photo: Courtesy John Gouin

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