CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marines, Sailors, and service members from around the world participated in the fifth annual Marine Corps Trials held by the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, March 3-11.
The Veterans, a team of former American service members, won the most medals and took first place, bringing home the Chairman’s Cup.
“It’s really great to come out here and be able to compete with my brothers,” said retired Sgt. Paulo Albavera, a track and field player for the Veterans. “You see guys out here that just recently got injured and it’s good to give them that boost in morale and letting them know there’s always something good out there you can aim to.”
Approximately 267 service members competed in the eight-sport Paralympic-style event composed of swimming, shooting, archery, cycling, track and field, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. Athletes from all over the world participated in the event, representing their native countries of Great Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Georgia, Colombia, Australia and New Zealand.
The competition was held by the Wounded Warrior Regiment, which takes care of approximately 500 active ill or injured Marines and promotes their mental and physical wellness. The regiment, formed in 2007, provides support to 30,000 veterans across the country while increasing their strength so they can continue their military service or develop habits for life outside the service.
“This event is not about the athletics and who wins,” said Capt. Ryan M. Powell, public affairs officer with Wounded Warrior Battalion-West. “The veterans come back after overcoming their challenges and inspire the newly injured Marines. They’re able to reignite the fire and inspiration in themselves by seeing what they’re able to do for their brothers,”
Ultimately, the event provides an avenue for the injured and ill service members to build camaraderie and to focus on their abilities to find new avenues to thrive in.
“The biggest thing is the camaraderie, they get to come together all wounded and ill, and see the common bonds they share through overcoming their challenges,” said Powell. “For two weeks, it’s not about what they can’t do, it’s about showing everyone what they can do.”