By MaryTherese GriffinJune 25, 2019
House divided? Not hardly!
By MaryTherese Griffin, U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- When Army veteran Lionel Williams sat down in the spectator stands at the Tampa Convention Center for the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games, he knew he might get some odd looks. The retired non - Commissioned Officer sporting his Army gear, was unfolding a "Team Air Force" banner which he waved proudly. "I'm here to support my son, Senior Master Sgt. Brian Williams United States Air Force." The proud dad says he doesn't know a thing about archery. "I only know what my son tells me, like a bullseye is worth ten points," he said with a chuckle.
He also knows his son would not be where he is today on Team Air Force if it was not for his beloved Army. "The Army saved my son's life... he even says that." Senior Master Sgt. Brian Williams was injured in an Improvised Explosive Device blast in 2012 in Afghanistan as a dog handler assigned to an Army unit. His arm was severely wounded and he lost a leg. The notion of shooting archery never entered this Vietnam Veteran's mind until he watched his son recover stateside. "I was with Brian when he was recovering for about eight months at Walter Reed National Medical Center. I've watched him with a therapist who pushed him and pushed him every day. It made him determined to use that arm better, and now he shoots bows and arrows," said the proud father.
Using archery as an adaptive reconditioning tool is something Team Army archery coach Frank Barroqueiro knows all about. He was wounded in Afghanistan while serving as an Infantry company commander and was told he would never use his right arm again. Then he was enticed by watching a television show to pick up a bow and the rest is history.
It's an art he teaches to his Team Army athletes. "Our foundation is based on the foundations for the therapeutic aspects of what archery does for us. Archery can be completely adapted to the individual. You don't have to shoot a bow my way but you have to shoot a bow your way. Whatever the injury a Soldier has, we can accommodate that to them and it works," said Barroqueiro.
From compound bows to recurve bows, the elder Williams watched his son on the range standing right next to Capt. Alex Wilson from Team Army as they battled it out for bullseye dominance. It's friendly competition but at the end of the day it's a house united for the Williams family.
"That's why I can support both teams because in my house we always say if wasn't for the Army he wouldn't be alive today...they gave him the first care he needed on the battlefield."