FORT BENNING, Ga. --More than 100 Army wounded warriors from Warrior Transition Battalions and Community Care Units in the Regional Health Command Atlantic and Central regions began their quest to join 40 other athletes from Regional Health Command-Pacific at the Army's Warrior Care and Transition 2018 Army Trials scheduled for February 25 thru March 9 at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Regional Trials is the second hurdle Army athletes clear prior to being selected to participate in Army Trials with hopes of making Team Army's 40 person roster for the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games hosted by the Air Force at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, June 2018.
The trials began with a torch lighting at Fort Benning's famed headquarters building known as 'Building Four' in front of the famed 'Follow Me' and 'Trooper of the Plains' statues representing the Infantry and Armor branches of the Army followed by an opening ceremony with remarks from the Benning Martin Army Community Hospital Commander, Col. Larry J. McCord, Fort Benning WTB Commander, Lt. Col. Louis D. Gray and the 3-85th Mountain Infantry WTB Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Oscar J. Mullinax Jr.
In his remarks, Col. McCord likened the current warrior athletes to the first participants in the first Olympic Games held in Athens Greece in 776 BC. McCord stated that like the ancient Greeks, 'our athletes have overcome great odds.' 'They've devoted immeasurable amount of time to training and demonstrated courage and resiliency and their efforts to participate in the Department of Defense premier adaptive sports competition is not going unnoticed,' said McCord.
As the keynote speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. Mullinax, a 2017 Warrior and Invictus Games medalist, reminded the athletes that the trials are about the spirit of competition as well as the spirit of competing against themselves. He spoke of his personal experience of becoming a team player and getting to know other athletes and how he went from being detached while competing to getting to know a great mentor in Spc. Stephanie Morris, 'an all-star,' selected to participate in her fourth trials.
Over the next four days, army athletes vying to earn a spot on the Army's team will compete in track, field, archery, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, shooting and swimming. (Cycling competition was held prior to the opening ceremony).