COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Army News Service, May 17, 2010) -- Army wounded warriors took home 11 gold medals in swimming and another seven in track and field May 14, finishing second overall behind the Marine Corps at the inaugural Warrior Games.

Pfc. Robert Nuss and Sgt. Rob Brown finished second and third for the game's "Ultimate Champion" title, where eight Army athletes were among the 17 finalists. The pentathlon-style events included an air rifle, 50-meter freestyle swim, 100-meter sprint, 1,500-meter run and shot competition. He U.S. Navy's Dan Hathorn, of Ithaca, N.Y., was the overall winner.

Despite finishing second overall, Soldiers headed home proud of their accomplishments and excited to have been a part of the games -- a Paralympics-style competition held at the Olympic Training Center and Air Force Academy venues in Colorado Springs, Colo. Many Soldiers and family members said they are ready for Warrior Games 2, pointing out that the games have done much to heal the mind, body and spirit of those competing here.

"This is an amazing experience, there are so many people here with so many stories of pain and healing, and this is a chance to come together to share that experience," said Sgt. Lorianne Flippo, of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Campbell, Ky. "It really feels good knowing that I'm part of an organization that cares; where you have a second shot and a chance to give it everything you got. The games have given me so much confidence to go on."

Cpl. Christopher Trebus, also from Fort Campbell, shared his comrade's sentiments about being a part of the games.

"Running like this, all of us will tell you the same, it gives us severe headache, dizziness, and balance problems, but that all goes out the window today, because we are running for the guys who can't run. That's what motivates me. It gives me a good feeling inside."

Staff Sgt. Mike Kacher, Pennsylvania National Guard, who was blinded and paralyzed after fragments from an explosive formed penetrator struck his head, said the games are also a way of showing that Soldiers, even those injured and wounded, continue to live by the words of Warrior Ethos. Those words being: "I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade behind," he said.

"Instead of thinking that you can't, change that to 'I can,'" he said. "You can do whatever you want to do, even if you are wounded or injured. We must think positive, to continue living, and live successfully, live actively and that will inspire others."

"The first couple of times I tried to do anything I failed, but you pick yourself up and eventually you make small gains. You take one day at a time and one step at a time, but you never quit."

And that is the reason Sgt. Rob Brown has given his all during the four-day competition here. The South Carolina native, who is recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, finished third for the "Ultimate Champion" title. Brown won three medals this week including gold in the 1,500 meter. He said he is competing for all of his comrades who could not.

"I'm here to represent all the other amputees who did not get a shot to be here," Brown said, after picking up a bronze medal in swimming. "It's very uplifting to be here and to represent them, so I really want to do my best."

Meanwhile, Sgt. Randi McCartney, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, easily bested her opponents, winning gold in the 50-meter swim. While accepting her award she waved at family in the stands. Most of McCartney's family came to cheer her on including her mother, father, brother, grandmother and husband, who flew here from Germany. McCartney's mother, Ricki Gavell, who was almost brought to tears by her daughter's victory, said "It's the happiest I've seen her in some time."

"Her participating in these games has been one of the best things for her recovery," Gavell explained. "I really admire her for what she has done and what she's been through. We're just so proud of her and all the Soldiers, these games, and what they have done for our Soldiers are just amazing.

We are a proud Army family for all our Army Soldiers. We absolutely feel this is the best thing going for our wounded Soldiers and we will be back here again next year."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16