Warrior Games athletes recognized at Pentagon
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 25, 2012) -- Military and Olympic leaders recognized 50 Wounded Warriors, including 10 Army athletes, for their athletic achievements at the 2012 Warrior Games during a ceremony today in the Pentagon courtyard.
The games, which provide wounded, ill and injured military members and veterans the opportunity to compete for medals, are hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee and were held in Colorado Springs, Colo., from April 30 through May 5. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta joined Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno and United States Olympic Committee Chief of Paralympics Charlie Huebner in congratulating the active and veteran athletes.
"I cannot tell you how much you inspire us with your courage, with your determination, with your athletic prowess, with your physical strength," Panetta said to the warriors. "It's an incredible inspiration."
Panetta, who presented each representative with a coin, said the determination and guts of the warriors to overcome obstacles is nothing short of a miracle of emotional, physical and mental strength.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Odierno shared his experience of attending this year's games.
"I had the opportunity to attend these games, and as I expected I was inspired," Odierno said. "It was truly compelling to see the unprecedented drive and talent of these young men and women, who have sacrificed so much for our country."
The general said the warriors collectively demonstrated resiliency, and represent the "survival and conviction of the heart" that helped them overcome challenges on their way to the games.
"Each of you has a story of how or what inspired you to get to where you are today," Odierno said. "You represent the best of our military, and what's best about this great country of ours."
Odierno noted that the warriors present at the ceremony represented 220 athletes who competed. Representing the Army were 1st Lt. Lacey Hamilton, 1st Sgt. Rhoden Galloway, Staff Sgt. Michael Kacer, Sgt. John Masters, Sgt. Fred Prince, Sgt. Margaux Vair, Cpl. Brian Miller, Spc. Elizabeth Wasil, Sgt. Anthony Robinson and Lt. Col. Danny Dudek.
Hamilton, who competed in the 100- and 200-meter sprints and cycling, said this time last year she was just regaining her balance after she was ejected from a motor vehicle in Afghanistan. She said the camaraderie she shared with the other athletes motivated her through her recovery to the games. Receiving a coin from the Secretary of Defense is something Hamilton said she won't soon forget.
"I can add it to my collection of awesome coins," Hamilton said. "It's definitely one that will beat everyone in the coin toss."