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AF wounded warrior trials in full swing at Nellis

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The 2015 Air Force Trials are underway after an opening ceremony to welcome the warriors here, Feb. 27, 2015.

This year marks the second occurrence of the Air Force Trials, both taking place at Nellis Air Force Base. The trials are intended to promote the health and wellness of seriously ill and injured service members.

"When I became injured I began a downward spiral," said John Register, Paralympic silver medalist and narrator of the opening ceremony. "One thing my wife did that pulled me out of that downward spiral was she took my hand and said, 'We're going to get through this together and make our new normal.' These games can help move past traumatic stress and move forward to make our new normal."

Helping wounded warriors find their new normal includes healthy competition and getting to know fellow athletes.

"For many of these athletes, these Air Force Trials serve as both a stepping stone and a celebration of a culmination of accomplishments," said. Maj. Gen. Margaret Poore, United States Air Force Personnel Center commander and guest speaker. "The first-time competitors who are trying sports as a form of recovery have overcome fears, made the commitment to train, set a goal and arrived here in front of us ready to compete. That, in and of itself, is a finish line. The experienced athletes who are returning for their second trials experience, do it for a variety of reasons, improvement from last year, competitive fire and often to help and mentor their fellow Airmen, joint partners and international allies."

More than 100 wounded, ill or injured service members from around the country, competing in 13 various events, are looking to earn a spot on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior Team, which will represent the Air Force at the adaptive sports competition throughout the year.

The opening ceremony kicked off the trials with the official arrival of athletes from Australia, Great Britain, the U.S. Army and Air Force, followed by the presentation of colors by the Nellis AFB Honor Guard.

Guests welcomed the athletes with cheers as patriotic music was played by the Sunrise Mountain High School Band. The Air Force Wings of Blue, parachuted down to the ceremony carrying the U.S., Air Force, Prisoners of War, and Wounded Warrior flags.

"I'm very happy to see our Army teammates here," Poore said. "Your presence at this event reminds me of that infamous quote from General Douglas McArthur, 'On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days, on other fields will bear the fruits of victory.' The victory he was referring to was victory in war. Here, we're talking about victory of a different type of battle, the battle to recover from a devastating illness or injury. On these fields the next few days, these athletes will sow the seeds that will bear the fruits of victory of recovery."

After the general's speech, the ceremony continued with a relay passing of the torch to light the Air Force Trials' cauldron. The torch passed through each team of warriors before finally reaching retired Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Aguillera, who lit the cauldron.

Cauldron lit, everyone's attention was directed to the sky to watch a two-ship HH-60G Pave Hawk flyover performed by 'Jolly 61'. One Pave Hawk touched down in a field next to the ceremony and Staff Sgt. August O'Niell accompanied by two pararescuemen exited and made their way to the stage center, where O'Niell presented Poore with the Wounded Warrior flag. Poore in turn presented the flag to Chief Master Sgt. Steven Cleveland, 99th ABW command chief, on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Program staff and the more than one thousand Airmen enrolled for the dedication.

"You have an extremely busy mission here, and were so very thankful to you for allowing us to hold these Air Force Trials here," Poore said.

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