COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The third day of competition in the 2013 Warrior Games officially came to a close here May 14, and for many members of the U.S. Army team that meant going to bed with a shiny new medal around their necks.
The day's competition was mainly centered on track and field events held at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Teams from all branches of the U.S. Armed Services competed as well as a team from the United Kingdom.
Among those claiming a gold medal was Army Sgt. Joshua Andrew, an infantryman from Castle Rock, Wash., assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion on Fort Lewis, Wash. "I do have a weakness," he said. "But I have learned to use my strengths to overcome weakness." Andrew showed his strength to everyone by competing in and winning the Men's Standing Shot.
One of the Army team members who really made a showing was Army Sgt. Monica Southall, an automated logistics specialist from the National Guard, currently assigned to the Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit in Virginia. Southall, who has won gold in the Warrior Games in 2010 and 2012, is taking gold home again this year for her first place finish in Women's Standing Shot and Women's Standing Discus.
Another one of Team Army's shining stars was retired Army Spc. Luis Puertas, a former infantryman and double amputee who hopes to one day qualify for the U.S. Paralympic team. Puertas easily flew past his competition and clenched the victory in the Men's 1500 meter (above the knee single and double amputee) category. "Competing in adaptive sports has given me the initial push I needed to get my engine rolling," he said. "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass it's about learning to dance in the rain."
Two of Puertas's teammates got their engines rolling as well in the Women's 1500 meter wheelchair category. Making an impressive showing was Army Spc. Elizabeth Wasil, a combat medic currently assigned to Bravo Company, Fort Sam Houston Warrior Transition Battalion. Wasil, a native of Prescott, Ariz., jumped out to a quick lead and continued to increase the distance between her and her competition every lap, easily rolling across the finish line in first place.
Trailing right behind Wasil was former Army reserve Staff Sgt. Chanda Gaeth, a La Cross, Wisconsin native who also hopes to qualify for the 2016 Paralympic Games. Gaeth first competed in the Warrior Games in 2012 and took several medals home with her when she left. This year she snagged second place and added a silver medal to her trophy case.
Two other Army women also showed they have what it takes here as well in the 1500 meter women's open category. Taking second place and claiming a silver medal was retired Army Sgt. Margaux Mange, a six-time medal winner at the Warrior Games and native of Lakewood, Colo. Coming in right behind her to take the bronze medal was Army Reserve Capt. Lacey Hamilton. "I was determined not to let my injury get in the way of living life," said Hamilton. "I have learned that I am a much stronger-willed person than I ever imagined I was."
So far in the games the Army has claimed 25 medals: eight gold, eight silver and nine bronze. The Marine team takes top honors earning 30 medals: 11 gold, 10 silver and nine bronze. The Air Force team has claimed eight: one gold, four silver and three bronze. The Special Operations Command team claimed seven: two gold, two silver and three bronze. The Navy/Coast Guard team claimed four: three gold and one bronze. The United Kingdom team claimed its first medal of the Warrior Games taking home a silver.
The competition continues through May 16 with events in wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery and swimming.