2013 Warrior Games celebrates an indomitable spirit 

Army Capt. Ivan Castro and his guide Army
Capt. Richard Kirby compete n the Men's
Visually Impaired 1500 meter race May 14
at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs,
Colo. Castro and Kirby would win the silver
medal with a time of 7:09.65. Photo by Mike Bottoms.

In a remarkable celebration of perseverance and resiliency more than 200 wounded military athletes competed in the 2013 Warrior Games. The games held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 11 -16 had seven events: archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball.

Opening ceremonies were held at the Olympic Training Center May 11 and included special guest of honor, Britain’s Prince Harry, who joined U.S. Navy Lt. Bradley Snyder and Olympic swimming champion Missy Franklin in lighting the Olympic flame.

The Warrior Games was created to encourage a healthy, active lifestyle for troops with permanent physical disabilities such as amputations, as well as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and other serious injuries.

In his first cycling race ever, Master Sgt. Mark Vomund won the silver medal in the 30 kilometer Men’s Bicycle Open. A Green Beret and 24-year Army veteran with 10 deployments under his belt, Vomund was severely injured in an IED blast in 2010. A year later and in the midst of traumatic mental and physical recovery, he took up cycling.

“For me, it’s not about winning medals, it’s about doing something that I haven’t done before – and becoming a more complete person in the process,” said Vomund. “Cycling has given me back a part of what I was, which also has given me self-worth and self-pride.”

This year marks the fourth year for the Games, an Olympic-style event open to Armed Forces servicemembers who were injured while serving on active duty. The USSOCOM team had more than 30 Special Operations athletes from across the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The team competed against athletes from all service branches including members of the United Kingdom's Armed Forces.



(From left to right in white shirts) Retired Spc. Jeff Garew, retired

Army Staff Sgt. Caleb Perkins, and retired Army Staff Sgt. Charles

Claybaker, win the gold medal in the Recurve Archery Team
competition May 15 in the Warrior Games held in Colorado Springs,
Colo. Photo by Mike Bottoms.

Army Capt. Ivan Castro, a veteran of the Warrior Games, was blinded by an Iraqi mortar round in 2007. Castro won 6 medals with the gold medal in 30 kilometer Mixed Tandem cycling race, silver medals in Men’s Visually Impaired 100, 200, 1500 meter races and Shot Put Visually Impaired and a Bronze in the Discus Visually Impaired competitions. He feels the games are a way to rebuild lives and breaks down stereo types.

“The Warrior Games are a stepping stone for young talent to be seen,” Castro said. “The games break down the idea that people with disabilities are very limited in what they can do.”

Castro went on to explain that the power of sport is an amazing phenomenon and the Warrior Games serves as a morale building family reunion.

 “Sports motivate you again with goals and that helps you get back to work and reintegrate with your family and society,” said Castro. “A lot of the guys who compete here were injured in combat together and it is really great seeing friends who have a shared experience.”

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Charles Claybaker, a former Army Ranger and badly injured in an CV-22 plane crash, won the gold medal in the Team Recurve Archery with retired Army Staff Sgt. Caleb Perkins and retired Spc. Jeff Garew. Claybaker thinks the best part of the Warrior Games is the fact that the injured compete, not winning medals.

“The best thing about the games is seeing the guys come out - the blind guys, amputees, everyone doing their best and competing,” Claybaker said. “I am happy we won the gold medal because we won as a team, but the best part is seeing everyone out here.”



Army Master Sgt. Mark Vomund competes in the Men's 30K Bicycle

Open at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 12.

Vomund would go on and win the Silver Medal. Photo by Mike Bottoms.

The Warrior Games was created in 2010 as an introduction to Paralympic sports for injured servicemembers and veterans. Events concluded with an awards ceremony and celebration May 16.

The SOCOM Warrior Games team won 16 Medals, six more than last year. The following competitors medaled for SOCOM:

- Army Capt. Ivan Castro:
Gold Medal Mixed Tandem Cycling
Silver Medal 100 Meter Visually Impaired
Silver Medal 200 Meter Visually Impaired
Silver Medal 1500 Meter Visually Impaired

Silver Medal Shot Put Visually Impaired
Bronze Medal Discus Visually Impaired

- Retired Army Staff Sgt. Charles Claybaker:
Gold Medal Team Recurve Archery

- Retired Army Staff Sgt. Alfredo De Los Santos:
Bronze Medal Men’s Discus Seated

- Tech. Sgt Israel Del Toro:
Gold Medal Men’s Shot Put Ambulatory

- Retired Sgt. 1st Class Douglas Franklin:

Silver Medal Men’s Discus Visually Impaired

- Retired Marine Corps Cpl. Justin Gaertner:
Bronze Medal 10K Men’s Handcycle
Bronze Medal Men’s 200 Meter Wheelchair
Bronze Medal Men’s 1500 Meter Wheelchair

- Retired Spc. Jeff Garew:

Gold Medal Team Recurve Archery

- Retired Sgt. 1st Class Sammy Lugo:

Gold Medal Men’s Discus Seated

- Army Staff Sgt. Caleb Perkins:

Gold Medal Team Recurve Archery

- Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Christopher Self :
Gold Medal Men’s 30K Bicycle Disability

- Army Master Sgt. Mark Vomund:
Silver Medal Men’s 30K Bicycle Open

Total medal results can be found at: http://www.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics/Military/Warrior-Games-presented-by-Deloitte/Competition-Results.aspx

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