WASHINGTON, September 3, 2014 —
Defense Department officials yesterday announced the names of almost 100 military athletes who will represent the United States at the first Invictus Games, which will be held Sept. 10-14 in the United Kingdom.
The games are an international sporting event for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans and will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the Lee Valley Athletics Centre.
The United States is one of 14 teams participating, and the team includes 98 military athletes: 22 from the Army, 20 from the Marine Corps, 22 from the Navy, 22 from the Air Force and 12 from U.S. Special Operations Command. Of the service members, 53 are active duty and 45 are veterans, officials said.
"The courage and resilience of our military athletes is an inspiration to all of us," said Jessica L. Wright, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. "We are very proud of their service, their accomplishments, their spirit, and are pleased that they are representing us to the world."
The wounded, ill and injured service members will participate in nine events: cycling, swimming, track and field, archery, wheelchair rugby, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, powerlifting, and a driving challenge.
The athletes were selected by their specific services after a year-long series of camps, clinics and trials throughout the country. Selections were based on the athletes' level of ability and skill, officials said.
"The men and women representing the United States and the other 13 nations at the Invictus Games, are the embodiment of precisely what Invictus means: unconquered," said James Rodriquez, deputy assistant secretary of defense for warrior care policy. "The athletes, despite their wounds, injuries and illness, have chosen to be the masters of their fate and the captains of their souls. They are an inspiration to the global community."
The team members’ wounds, illnesses and injuries range from post-traumatic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury to spinal cord injuries, autoimmune diseases and amputations.
The U.S. team's captain, Chris Self, a retired Army sergeant major, supported operations in Afghanistan and Iraq with Army Special Forces. Assistant captain Scott Palomino, a retired Air Force senior airman, served in Iraq.
Spirit of competition, camaraderie
"The international stage that our nation's service members will be showcased on represents the spirit of competition and camaraderie," said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. "They wore our flag while defending the United States. Now they wear it to represent our country alongside service men and women from around the world, demonstrating the persistence and perseverance that allows them to live life to the fullest, regardless of what challenges one may encounter."
Adaptive sports and athletic reconditioning play a key role in recovery and rehabilitation for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans, officials said. They expose service members to opportunities for physical fitness and activity, and introduce them to sports and other activities they may not have participated in or even heard of before their wound, illness, or injury, officials noted.
After attending the 2013 Warrior Games, Prince Henry of Wales was inspired to host an international adaptive sports event in the United Kingdom. The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, who holds the rank of captain and continues to serve in Britain's armed forces, announced the 2014 Invictus Games in March.
U.S. team members -- currently serving on active duty or veterans of their respective services -- are:
-- Army: Sgt. 1st Class Jorge Avalos, Spc. Shawn Cheshire, Col. Patricia Collins, Lt. Col. Daniel Dudek, Staff Sgt. Carlton Duncan, 1st Lt. Kelly Elmlinger, Staff Sgt. Chanda Gaeth, Master Sgt. Rhoden Galloway, Sgt. Robbie Gaupp, Master Sgt. Daniel Hendrix, Sgt. Sean Hook, Spc. Geoff Hopkins, Staff Sgt. Michael Kacer, Sgt. Delvin Maston, Sgt. Ryan McIntosh, Sgt. Kawaiola Nahale, Capt. Michael Phillips, Capt. William Reynolds, Sgt. Monica Southall, Sgt. Erin Stewart, Spc. Elizabeth Wasil and Staff Sgt. Jessie White.
-- Navy: Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Adviento, Petty Officer 3rd Class Angelo Anderson, Petty Officer 1st Class Jim Castaneda, Seaman Apprentice Steven Davis, Chief Petty Officer Ching Dressel, Lt. John Edmonston, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Emmott, Petty Officer 2nd Class Isaac Francois, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jaime Garza, Lt. Cmdr. Maria Gomez-Mannix, Petty Officer 2nd Class Shericka Goza, Petty Officer 3rd Class Donald Jackson, Petty Officer 1st Class Paul Johnson, Petty Officer 1st Class John Kremer, Petty Officer 2nd Class Sonny Lemerande, Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephan Miller, Airman Brett Parks, Petty Officer 3rd Class Redmond Ramos, Chief Petty Officer Javier Rodriguez Santiago, Petty Officer 2nd Class Max Rohn, Lt. j.g. Laura Root and Chief Petty Officer Hector Varela.
-- Air Force: Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera, Capt. Lewis Barasha, Master Sgt. Matthew Burke, Senior Airman Cody Caraker, Staff Sgt. Melissa Conduti, Staff Sgt. Daniel Crane, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Dadgostar, Staff Sgt. Christopher D'Angelo, Staff Sgt. Derrick David, Senior Airman Colby Dean, Capt. Sarah Evans, Master Sgt. Benjamin Horton, Staff Sgt. Mark Johnson, Tech. Sgt. Chad Lukkes, Staff Sgt. Jerimiah Means, Staff Sgt. Jonathan Olds, Lt. Col. Daniel Oosterhaus, Senior Airman Scott Palomino, Staff Sgt. Dwayne Parker, Staff Sgt. Tatiana Perkins, Staff Sgt. Ryan Pinney and Senior Airman Marianne Reilly.
-- Marine Corps: Sgt. Charles Anderson, Sgt. Lakin Booker, Maj. Richard Burkett, Lance Cpl. Johnny Canizlopez, Sgt. Jesse Clark, Cpl. Dustin Gabehart, Cpl. Robert Hamilton, Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Hammond, Sgt. Kevin Hoffman, Gunnery Sgt. Tyrone Judge, Sgt. Jeremy Lake, Master Sgt. Ben LeCour, Cpl. Joshua Lopez, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Mendiaz, Staff Sgt. Jacob Rich, Sgt. Brian Scarbrough, Sgt. Micihael Touraille, Gunnery Sgt. Jason Tumbleson, Master Gunnery Sgt. William VanHoy and Staff Sgt. Christopher Whittemore.
-- Socom: Army Sgt. Roosevelt Anderson, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Carlton, Army Maj. Ivan Castro, Army Lt. Col. William Cotty, Army Staff Sgt. Alfredo De Los Santos, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Israel Del Toro, Army Sgt. 1st Class Emilio Garcia, Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Livesay, Army Staff Sgt. Keven Nguyen, Army Warrant Officer Anthony Radetic, Army Sgt. Maj. Christopher Self and Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Smith.