By BG Gary Cheek, WTC Commander
I’ll be watching the upcoming 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in the days ahead with a great sense of pride as three wounded Soldiers represent the United States in Vancouver.
As with all Olympic Games, it’s a great honor to bear the flag during the Opening Ceremony. And this year, teammates selected AW2 Veteran Heath Calhoun, a double amputee Alpine skier, for that honor. In his paralympic video, Heath stated, “I was injured for what that flag stands for.”
Service to country runs deep in the Calhoun family. His father served in Vietnam, his grandfather in World War II and Heath as a squad leader in the 101st Airborn Division in Iraq, where an RPG struck his vehicle resulting in the amputation of both legs.
As with most wounded Soldiers, it was important for Heath to remain active post injury so he took up skiing explaining, “It gave me my legs back… when I ski, I rely solely on my own ability.”
I’m sure the U.S. Team will benefit from the dedication, training and strength of all five Veterans:
- Heath Calhoun (Grundy, Va.), alpine skiing – a double above the knee amputee, retired U.S. Army (Iraq War Veteran)
- Chris Devlin-Young (Campton, N.H.), alpine skiing – retired U.S. Coast Guard
- Sean Halsted (Spokane, Wash.), cross country skiing – retired U.S. Air Force
- Patrick McDonald (Orangevale, Calif.), wheelchair curling – retired U.S. Army
- Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas), cross country skiing & biathlon – a double leg amputee, retired U.S. Army (Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom)
I encourage everyone to throw their support behind these Olympic Athletes – and watch true warriors in action.