2016 Team Army Warrior Games participant return to action at the 2019 DoD Warrior Games
By Lee M. Packnett, Army Warrior Care and Transition.
TAMPA, Fla. -- U.S. Army retired Staff Sgt. Matthew Lammers was no stranger to the camaraderie, care, support and team dynamics of the 2019 Team Army Warrior Games team. However, according to Lammers, there are no words to describe his feelings after Team Army beat Team Special Operations Command in the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games sitting volleyball bronze medal game.
"There are no words to describe my feelings right now," said Lammers when asked about his return to the games and being on the bronze medal winning team. "I feel as if I'm accepted again; I am so grateful and blessed to be here."
Lammers participated in the 2016 DoD Warrior Games as a member of Team Army winning two golds, a bronze and a silver medal in swimming. A memorable moment for Lammers in 2016 was him sitting down with Jon Stewart telling his story of recovering and overcoming.
Recovering and overcoming is a motto that Lammers knows ever to well. He is Team Army's only two-time recipient of the Purple Heart Award for injures received in combat. He was awarded his first on September 8, 2004, and his second on June 10, 2007, when an improvised explosive device blast resulted in him losing both legs and his left arm. Lammers is the only triple amputee and two-time purple recipient on Team Army.
"It has been 12 years since I was injured and I'm still healing. This (Games) has been so therapeutic for me and my wife," Lammers said when asked about his return. "I've met so many new friends and brothers and sisters."
Lammers' suitcase will be a little heavier this year than it was in 2016. He won two gold medals in the field events for his classification in the seated discus and shot-put; two additional gold medals in the one and four minute indoor rowing competition; four silver medals in swimming in addition to his bronze medal as a member of the sitting volleyball team. "Swimming used to be my favorite but I really love the four minute indoor rowing; some think that is crazy," said Lammers when asked about his heavy haul of medals.
Prior to Team Army taking its official team photo, Lammers was notified by Deputy Chief of Staff for Warrior Care and Transition, Col. Matthew St Laurent that he was selected by his teammates to carry the Army flag during the opening ceremony. "I know I'm going to get emotional tonight at the closing ceremony," Lammers said, while talking about being on Team Army and applying for a spot on the U.S. Team for the 2020 Invictus Games.
One may say that a true display of recovering and overcoming was the crowd standing and cheering for Lammers during one of his four swimming events at the swim competition on June 29 at the Long Aquatic Center in Clearwater, Florida. A moment that was lost on Lammers when asked about the crowd. "I was just trying to keep up with that Marine (Sgt. Mike Nicholson), whose also a friend of mine," Lammers said. Like Lammers, Nicholson is also a triple amputee who won gold over Lammers in the swimming events.
"These games have reignited the athlete in me. After my medical setbacks after the 2016 games, I thought I was out for the count. My wife, Alicia, picked me up and said, "You Got This Babe."
Lammers stated that he will continue to participate in adaptive sports events after the Warrior Games and plans to participate in the 2019 Valor Games Southwest, September 23-26 in San Antonio, Texas.
During the closing ceremony for the 2019 DoD Warrior Games, Lammers was awarded the "Heart of the Team" award by his Team Army teammates. The "Heart of the Team" Award is voted for the member of the team who teammates believe embodied the heart of their team.