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Special Ops Team Takes the Bronze in Archery
Colorado Springs, Colo. - Members of the U.S. Special Operations Command  archery team beat out their U.S. Air Force rivals to take the bronze medal in the compound archery category May 2. The competition is just one of seven athletic events held during the Warrior Games, an annual wounded warrior competition taking place here this week.

By: By Tech. Sgt. Heather Kelly - 5/2/2012

  • U.S. Army veteran Dwight Hayes, a member of the U.S. Special Operations Command's archery team, takes aim during the Warrior Games archery competition in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 2 . The USSOCOM team took the bronze medal in the compound archery category. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Kelly.
Colorado Springs, Colo. - Members of the U.S. Special Operations Command  archery team beat out their U.S. Air Force rivals to take the bronze medal in the compound archery category May 2. The competition is just one of seven athletic events held during the Warrior Games, an annual wounded warrior competition taking place here this week.

U.S. Army veterans Joseph Smith and Dwight Hayes, and Staff Sgt. Victor Sassoon formed the winning USSOCOM team, securing a final 10-point lead over the Air Force for a position on the podium. The U.S. Army placed second, winning the silver, and the U.S. Marine Corps team took the gold medal in the category. The competition was held at the Air Force Academy Cadet Field House.
 
Archery team captain Joseph Smith said the team was packing up their bows when they learned they were still in contention for a medal.

“We decided to shoot like we would in our own backyard. It’s really a mental game - we were just able to pull it together and deliver,” said Smith. “It’s an awesome feeling.”

The former Special Forces Green Beret was wounded in 2001 when an anti-tank weapon detonated only feet away, killing a fellow servicemember and severely injuring Smith.

A life-long archer, Smith said he returned to the sport as soon as he could during his recovery.

“It’s a passion and I always wanted to stay with it,” said Smith. “I used to be a long-distance runner. After I was injured, I really couldn’t run that well so I got into shooting more as a stress reliever, and that’s what it is for me right now.” 

During the award ceremony, USSOCOM Care Coalition Director Kevin McDonnell was on hand to present the team with their medals.

“Some of the teams here today have been training for this for a year. Our team has had the bows in their hands for only five days and they walk away with the bronze. It’s just phenomenal,” said McDonnell. “I think it also shows you the flexibility of the individuals and the spirit of the warriors we really have on this team.”

The Warrior Games is an Olympic-style event open to servicemembers who were wounded, injured or became ill while serving on active duty. Teams will participate in shooting, swimming and track and field events throughout the remainder of the games. The competition will conclude with awards and a celebration May 5.


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