GEN Schwartz, SMA Chandler and other Senior Enlisted Advisors -- great to have you all here. Charlie Huebner, great to have you here. Thanks for all the dedicated time and support that you've given in care of our wounded, injured and ill Servicemembers and Veterans. Thank you for joining us today as we recognize incredibly inspirational and motivated young men and women -- 50 world-class athletes representing the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Special Operations Command. Welcome to all of you, your guests and loved ones.

Athletics has always been key to our military culture. In 1928, Army General Douglas MacArthur was given a leave of absence authorized by the 12th Army Chief of Staff, General Charles Summerall, to serve as the President of the American Olympic Committee, predecessor of the U.S. Olympic Committee. GEN MacArthur led the U.S. Olympic Team to win the most medals in the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. In these Olympics, female athletes were allowed to officially compete for the very first time.

Today, we carry on like GEN MacArthur with our focus on the importance of athletics to our culture, to the men and women who serve. Through the great work of many dedicated leaders, we are celebrating our military's best male and female athletes who competed during the 3rd Annual Warrior Games, on the beautiful grounds of the United States Air Force Academy a few months ago. At these Games, as expected I was inspired as I witnessed bi-lateral amputees running in the 400 meter, setting up a solid defense on the basketball and volleyball courts and many other things. It was truly compelling to see the unprecedented drive and talent of these young men and women who have sacrificed so much for their Country.

To all the Warriors here in the audience today -- you represent the 220 athletes who competed in the Warrior Games this past May. When you started this journey months, even years ago, I'm sure each of you set personal and team goals as a long-range target to strive towards to motivate you, to help you. For some, what you achieved far exceeded your own expectations. But I learned long ago, I'm never surprised by the mental and physical toughness of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardmen. When they put their mind to something, they will achieve it. You spent countless hours conditioning -- many of you in multiple events -- for the Games.

Your dedication has been extraordinary, an example to us all, as you have focused on your abilities, not your disabilities, inspiring and empowering others who have watched your transformation in the face of adversity. I had the honor of having lunch with a group of athletes during my visit. I was struck by the motivation, the pride, and the determination of these Warriors, working together as a team to overcome their challenges. I had to leave before the final games that evening, but I left with a good feeling about how the Army's Sitting Volleyball and Wheelchair Basketball Teams would perform that night. And they proved me right, and brought home a gold medal in each event.

The Marines won the coveted Chairman's Cup with a total medal count of 89 medals. Congratulations to the Marine Team.

And Marine Lance Corporal Ronald Sullivan, Navy (Retired) Lieutenant John Edmonston, and Senior Airman Jeffrey Odom all took home gold, silver and bronze medals in different events this year. I know those medals will make an impressive display, a permanent and tangible reminder of your commitment and perseverance. Not everyone who competed won a medal, but collectively, you demonstrated resiliency to overcome many challenge. It represents the survival and conviction of the heart that each of you brought to the Games.

Each of you has a story of how and what inspired you to get where you are today. This process, from the qualification trials to the final rounds, has not just been an individual journey. The esprit de corps that developed in your teams, within your service, and across the joint service and coalition lines with the British Armed Forces fostered a strong camaraderie and team-building environment.

Within the military family, each of those men and women on your left and right, who you may have challenged in a sporting event, are your brothers and sisters in arms in military service. And those bonds of trust, those bonds of respect are just so important. You have trained together, you have worked hard and sweated together, you shared each other's pains, and you conquered milestones and goals together. You represent the best of our military, and what's best about this great Country of ours, and you represent the Families who have stood by your side, and I want to thank them very much. And along the way, it was your Family, your loved ones, your Coaches, your mentors, and your community of supporters who have been there at your side.

So it is now my honor to introduce a true champion of all wounded warriors, the Chief of the U.S. Paralympics, Charlie Huebner. Charlie -- the son of a retired Army First Sergeant -- has been the Chief of the Paralympics for the U.S. Olympic Committee for the last 6 years. Thousands of service members and Veterans have benefitted from the camps, clinics and competitions supported by the U.S. Paralympics and the U.S. Olympic Committee, so it is a real honor to welcome Charlie -- a true visionary -- to the stage. Again, thank you so much for attending. Charlie, thank you for your dedication to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

Page last updated Mon June 25th, 2012 at 00:00