Team Army takes the Chairman’s Cup at the 2015 DoD Warrior Games

By John M. Rosenberg, Warrior Transition Command

2015 Team Army raising Chairman's Cup

U.S. Army active duty and veteran athletes raise the Chairman's Cup and celebrate their victory during the closing ceremony for the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games, Marine Corps Base, Quantico, June 28. The DoD Warrior Games were held June 19-28. The games are an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. Approximately 250 athletes, representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command and the British Armed Forces will compete in archery, cycling, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and wheelchair basketball at Quantico Marine Corp Base. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christophe D. Paul/Released)

Alexandria, Virginia -- Team Army walked away from the 2015 DoD Warrior Games with the Chairman’s Cup trophy for the second consecutive year. The ‘Cup’ was presented by retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.

“I'm extraordinarily proud of the men and women who competed in the 2015 Warrior Games. These athletes, competing in a range of adaptive sports from volleyball to shooting, are models of grit and determination,” said Dempsey. “They are proof that with hard work, camaraderie, and teamwork, no challenge is insurmountable. The Warrior Games remind us that recovery is an active process where effort and optimism reap results.”

Team Army earned 162 medals, 57 more than their nearest challenger, the U.S. Marine Corps.

All of the athletes at the 2015 Games – active duty and veteran, representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, SOCOM and British Armed Forces possessed what Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work called “an indefinable, indomitable spirit to press on.”

Perhaps best capturing the secret to Team Army’s success this year was shooting coach Ray Arredondo, who simply reprised a recruiting slogan, saying the Army “will be all that it can be.”

And they were – all that they could be.

There was Sgt. Nick Titman, Fort Carson, Colorado, who, at a crucial moment in an ultimately victorious Army volleyball match with the Marine Corps, turned towards the bleachers and implored Army supporters to generate even more noise.

Sgt.1st Class Michael Smith, an active duty Army recruiter from Little Rock, Arkansas, was back for the second time. Smith, who lost an arm in a motorcycle accident, was slated to compete in 14 events until a foot injury sidelined him on the final day. As a result he competed in 10 events.

Army Veteran Staff Sgt. Randi Gavell from Grand Junction, Colorado, fresh off a dominating victory in the women’s 100-meter dash, spoke of the importance of competition in the overall healing process, saying “despite the adversity one has to succeed.”

Finally, amid record setting heat and humidity at Butler Field, there was Cpt. Kelly Elmlinger, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, competing in the women’s 800-meter wheelchair competition. Half- way into the race the active duty surgical nurse was already out front by 200-meters.

Looking back on the games, Command Sergeant Major Matthew Brady, Warrior Transition Command, (WCT), referenced the “phenomenal female gold medalists” of Team Army as being among the keys to victory.

A few cases in point: Sgt. 1st Class Katie Kuiper, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, a multi-medalist in track; Sgt. 1st Class Samantha Goldenstein, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, took gold in the Women’s 400-meter 6.0; Army Veteran Staff. Sgt. Monica Southall, Henrico, Virginia, delivered point after point from the service position in volleyball; and first-game athlete Spc. Chasity Kuczer, Fort Knox, Kentucky, took the gold in the archery compound bow.

According to Brady, who was a fixture on Army sidelines throughout the 10-day competitions, WCT leadership watched over the athletes, worried about them and pulled for them to win.

WCT Command Chaplain Maj. Mike Nishimura was also at the games and talked with a number of parents, noting their pride and support. “That kind of support from family, friends and peers was giving the athletes great strength,” he said.

In the end, rivalries aside, and medals awarded, the 2015 DoD Warrior Games reflected the Warrior spirit. Whether athletes are contending with the elements, facing adversity, or engaging in physical competition this spirit “cannot be severed,” noted Deputy Secretary Work. “Every person here is a Warrior, and will be a Warrior until the day they die.”

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