By Patricia Sands, WTC Stratcom
Back in the day, I was an accomplished archer. I still have a bunch of trophies proudly displayed in my TV room. Much to the chagrin of my kids, I will not move them no matter how old I get. Even with the passage of the years, I still remember what it takes to be a good archer. It goes beyond great equipment. It takes perfect posture, strong arms, steady hands, patience, precision timing, and most of all, repetition and practice. Whether it is target practice or hunting, the method is the same. You are trying to hit a small target dead center on an object far away. It takes a lot of coordination to hit the bull’s-eye every time.
One of the first people I met at the Army Warrior Games Training Camp in Colorado Springs was a tall lanky man with a New York accent, SSG Peter Torruella. He could never be accused of being shy. He came over and introduced himself with a hearty hello and said he was on the Army archery team. Me being me, I was very excited to hear his story and asked what led him to take part in the Warrior Games.
SSG Torruella was injured and part of his recovery plan was to learn a new sport. He had just started archery earlier this year and quickly started excelling. Today, he is ranked second among his fellow Warrior Games Army archers. When I responded with the word, “Remarkable” he responded, “I was just following orders.” He was told to hit the bull’s-eye, and he did. He made us all laugh, but it was no joke. He didn’t think he had the option of failing after being in the Army.
I thought about that. I learned to shoot archery as an outdoor recreational interest. Was I ever in danger? Heck no. I just sat quietly in a tree, waiting for luck to walk by me. No one was shooting back, and no one saw if I missed. However, SSG Torruella learned the same skills under pressure and danger. He had to succeed in order to survive in life and death situations.
Listen to a Soldier and your life and challenges will be put in to perspective very quickly. Tourruella told me of his decades in the service and his dedication during many of his deployments. My heart was touched by his long absences from his Family and the “hot dog Thanksgivings” in foreign lands. He quickly dismissed my somber face and said, “The Army is my life. These are the kind of guys I have spent my life with—the finest in the world.” I looked around and saw every age, race, injury, and rank and he continued, “They have everything in common with me. Everything.” His eyes filled with tears as he said with emphasis, “We know.”
He continued, “We are warriors and will do it all again for America to be safe. It is in our blood.”
SSG Torruella’s dedication to the well-being of all servicemembers is clear. For example, he was the inspiration for the formation of the American Troop Support Team organization. His gift of gab has served his battle buddies well. American Troop Support has sent 1,238 boxes of “goods from home” to 780 Soldiers. Like all American Soldiers, Torruella jumps in and makes a difference where he is. He is equally as adamant about Warrior Games. He will tell you the value and worth of the competition to wounded warriors and their healing process. Sports and competition brings out the best in Soldiers. He wants it bigger, better, and hopes more Soldiers will be involved next year.
I asked SSG Torruella what he will do when he leaves the service. He didn’t have an answer, but I am confident of one thing, he will succeed at anything he puts his mind to. Failure is not an option. About that time, his cell phone rang. He answered it and smiled hearing the voice on the other end—his wife calling to say she misses him. He explained to me that he is really good at rocking their seven month old daughter to sleep and that his Family can’t wait for him to come home after he wins his medal.
SSG Torruella has already hit the bull’s-eye of what is important in life. That medal will match his heart of gold.