General Session Speaker
In the summer of 1993 Staff Sergeant Keni Thomas was deployed to Mogadishu Somalia with the 3rd Ranger Battalion as part of an elite special operations package called Task Force Ranger. Their mission was to find and capture a criminal warlord named Mohammed Farrah Aidid. On the 3rd of October, Keni and his fellow rangers distinguished themselves in an eighteen hour fire-fight that would later be recounted in the highly successful book and movie “Blackhawk Down.”
A powerful speaker, Keni captivates audiences from beginning to end as he tells the incredible story of extraordinary individuals and how they fought to bring each other home. Drawing from his experiences on the battlefield, Keni inspires people to achieve greatness by stressing the importance of outstanding leadership at every level, even if the only person you are leading is yourself. Keni sums it up like this, “Leadership has never been about the rank or the position you hold. It’s about the example you set. There are people to your left and to your right who are counting on you and its up to you to deliver. But you will only be as good as you prepared yourself to be.”
Keni got out of the Army to pursue his music career and now works full-time as an award-winning country music recording artist and songwriter in Nashville. He and his band Cornbread were featured in the movie “Sweet Home Alabama” and his music can be heard on country stations nationwide. Keni continues to serve our troops with regular tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a regular guest on all the major news networks as a military analyst and was also a military advisor for the Mel Gibson movie “We Were Soldiers”. He has been recognized by the President of the United States, by Congress and has been awarded the American Patriot Award and a bronze star for valor. But Keni is most proud of his appointment as a national spokesman for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. They provide college educations to the children of our special operations personnel killed in combat or training.