After five days of fierce competition that resulted in scrapes, bruises, malfunctioning equipment, teamwork, cheers and friendly needling among the 200-plus athletes competing in the second annual Warrior Games, it was time to tie everything up.
Athletes, family and friends gathered at the Air Force Academy’s Clune Arena on May 21 to look back on the exciting and inspirational week.
Emcee Charlie Huebner was occasionally moved to emotion, but kept the event moving while announcing the winner of the Chairman’s Cup, which the Marines claimed for a second year. After a tie last year, Huebner also crowned a sole Ultimate Champion, who was also a Marine. Jonathan Disbro earned 16 points in the events that comprise the Ultimate Champion competition: swimming, shooting, track and field and cycling.
Perhaps the most moving moment of the closing ceremonies was when Huebner recognized Alfred de los Santos, a member of the Special Operations team who completed the last two kilometers of the mens’10-kilometer handcycle race by pushing himself with his hands after a chain malfunction temporarily sidelined his efforts.
The evening wouldn’t have been complete without comments from Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Via a recorded message, Mullen offered his congratulations, praise and encouragement. A highlight video of the week and an inspirational talk from John Register, a former collegiate All-American in track and field, Army veteran and above-knee amputee concluded the closing ceremonies.
But the night had just started as Grammy Award-winning Colbie Caillat took the stage after taking time to meet with about a dozen wounded warriors before the closing ceremony began, calling them “inspirational” in a press conference that followed.
Hooah! Oohrah! Go Navy! Go Air Force! We’ll see you all next year! — Vyque White, USO