(UPDATE) The 2013 Warrior Games: A Royal Touch

2013 Warrior Games

Britain’s Prince Harry and Marine Staff Sgt. Joshua Miles, the master of ceremonies, salute during the playing of the national anthems at the opening of the 2013 Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 11, 2013

[Update at bottom]

The first Warrior Games took place in 2010.

They are a joint endeavor between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Department of Defense created to “highlight the role of adaptive or disabled sports in the recovery of wounded, injured and ill soldiers.”

During last year’s Warrior Games at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, over 200 wounded, injured and ill service members and veterans from the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Special Operations Command and from the British armed forces competed for gold medals in cycling, swimming, track and field, archery, wheelchair basketball and, yes, sitting volleyball.

Among the participants in the Warrior Games are amputees, cancer survivors, partially paralyzed men and women and those recovering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.

Brig. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of the Warrior Transition Command (WTC), said in a statement on the occasion of the 2012 Warrior Games:

Adaptive sports and reconditioning play a critical role in allowing our wounded, ill and injured soldiers to achieve their physical goals and build the confidence essential for success in the next phase of their lives, whether they return to the force or move on to civilian life.

The 2013 Warrior Games began Saturday, May 11, and will continue through May 16. They will once again give more than 200 wounded warriors the opportunity to achieve, excel and possibly go on to the next Paralympic Games and excel even more, just as Navy Lt. Bradley Snyder did last year when he won two gold medals and one silver medal in swimming at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Lt. Snyder, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, lost his vision in Sept. 2011 in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device he was attempting to disable, detonated.

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Navy Lt. Bradley Snyder, a member of the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Swim Team, is greeted by his coach, Brian Loeffler, after winning the qualifying round of the 100-meter freestyle swim during the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, England, Aug. 30. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

At the opening ceremonies on Saturday, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said:

You warriors are here because of your willingness to overcome great challenges, the challenges of illness and injury, both seen and unseen, coupled with the challenges that any superior athlete must overcome in achieving greatness…Your heroism and determination are an inspiration. Whenever I’m having a bad day or I’m facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge, I just think of you, and my day becomes a very nice day.

Adding a special royal touch to the ceremonies was the presence of Britain’s Prince Harry, a veteran combat helicopter pilot himself, who met and chatted with the wounded athletes and even joined in a practice session of sitting volleyball.

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Britain’s Prince Harry reacts to a scoring play during an exhibition volleyball match between U.S. and U.K. wounded warrior volleyball teams during the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 11, 2013.

Once again, these Warrior Games are “A competition for our disabled military, an inspiration for all of Us”

Here are some additional images of the Warrior Games activities.

2013 Warrior Games

Paralympic gold medalist Navy Lt. Bradley Snyder, center, gold medalist Missy Franklin and Britain’s Prince Harry light the official torch to begin the 2013 Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 11, 2013.

2013 Warrior Games

Marine Corps Cpl. Breanna Dill gives her son, Landon, 3, a ride on her recumbent bike before competing in the 2013 Warrior Games cycling competition near the U.S. Air Force Academy Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 12, 2013.

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Marine Corps Wounded Warriors Regiment wheelchair basketball team in practice. DOD photo by Marvin Lynchard

2013 Warrior Games

Air Force Maj. Scott Bullis wins the gold medal for the 20K recumbent bike heat during the 2013 Warrior Games cycling competition at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 12, 2013.

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Members of the Army Wounded Warriors cycling team in practice, DOD Photo by Mervin Lynchard

And here are some more stories of grit, perseverance, faith:

* Wounded Warrior Creed Born Out of Suffering

* Navy Warrior Games Vet Shares His Story, Recovery

* Air Force NCO Survives Cancer, Tackles Warrior Games

All photos and captions: DOD

UPDATE:

For more delightful photographs of Prince Harry playing sitting volleyball, laughing, jesting, throwing high-fives, bonding with both British and U.S. troops and just being an all-around soldier’s soldier, please go to the UK Daily Mail here as linked to in Joe Gandelman’s “The Remarkable Prince Harry.”

The Daily Mail also points out that the Prince, “who recently returned from a second tour of duty of Afghanistan as an Apache attack helicopter pilot, is always his most comfortable around the military…and has made clear he wants to become a champion of injured ex servicemen and women.”

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist