AW2 Veterans Make A Big Impression At Paralympic Games

By COL Jim Rice, AW2 Director

AW2 Veteran Andy Soule won America’s first medal of the 2010 Paralympic Games and America’s first Paralympic biathlon medal.  He earned the bronze in men’s sitting 2.4km pursuit biathlon (Photo courtesy of Joe Kusumoto Photography).

"It felt just incredible," said Andy Soule in an interview immediately after the race. "I've had World Cup wins and World Cup podiums before, but there's nothing quite like this, in this atmosphere, in front of a crowd here with everyone watching." (Photo courtesy of Joe Kusumoto Photography)

I’m not surprised at all to see AW2 Veterans already emerging as stars of the 2010 Paralympic Games. While all AW2 Veterans are resilient, it’s wonderful to see these two incredible Veterans achieving greatness.

On Friday, AW2 Veteran Heath Calhoun carried the U.S. flag in the opening ceremony, an incredible honor for any athlete, and especially for a Veteran who has already sacrificed so much for our country. Heath lost both legs above the knee while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he will compete in Alpine Skiing later this week.

“It’s an incredible honor to be able to carry the American flag – it’s something that I believe in,” said Heath in a video on the U.S. Paralympics Web site. “If I win a medal and they raise the American flag, I will be crying. The national anthem means a lot to me – I was injured for what that flag stands for.”

If that weren’t enough, AW2 Veteran Andy Soule made history on Saturday by winning America’s first medal of the 2010 Paralympic Games and America’s first Paralympic biathlon medal. He earned the bronze in men’s sitting 2.4km pursuit biathlon, and said it was a “dream come true.” Andy is also a double amputee who served in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Congratulations to Andy for your medal and to Heath for carrying the U.S. flag, and good luck to you both and to all the athletes as you compete throughout the rest of the week.

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