More than 300 wounded, ill and injured Marines are currently competing in seven Paralympic sports at the 2nd Annual Marine Corps Trials in Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The Marines are hunting for 50 of their best to represent them at the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs later this year.
The Corps won the Games for the last two years, beating out all other branches of the service.
“This year it’ll be no different,” said Col. Jay Krail, Executive Officer of Wounded Warrior Regiment. “The first year we didn’t even bring a complete team and we won. Now there’s more interest, and with more interest comes better athletes.
Krail realized right away the benefit of holding trials, and participation doubled this year.
“With trials we’re not only able to build our best team possible,” he said, “We’re also able to provide eight days of clinic where athletes get instruction from world-class coaches.”
The Marines even invited veteran athletes from seven allied countries to challenge them even more.
“We fight together and we recover together,” said Michael Wieger, Germany team coach. “It’s good to get the experience from other countries, because things they are doing to recover are things we can do back home in Germany.”
Wieger was also impressed by the presence of USO San Diego, with more than 50 hard-working volunteers handing out protein bars, water, energy drinks and other snacks at each competition venue.
“Americans do it right. Troops are finding support by their families, by the communities, and volunteers who are doing this mostly on their own expense. That is a real good morale-booster. There are other countries who sure can learn from it.”
The trials conclude tomorrow, and the All-Marine team should be finalized and announced within a week. For results, information and photos, follow the Wounded Warrior Regiment on Facebook. - Joseph A. Lee, USO Staff Writer