By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joseph A. Boomhower, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Four of eight wounded, ill and injured service members assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD)'s Army Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), Navy Medical Hold and Marine Wounded Warrior Battalion-West detachment (WWBn-W) won a combined seven medals at the 2nd annual Warrior Games held at the Olympic Training Center and Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 21.
Pfc. Joshua Bullis, WTU Soldier, won the bronze medal in air rifle shooting, WWBn-W Marines Staff Sgt. Jedidiah Vermillion and Lance Cpl. Jese Shag took the team gold medal for seated volleyball. Vermillion also won the bronze for compound archery and Shag also won the silver in wheelchair basketball. NMCSD's Medical Hold Unit Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Selemani Johnson took the silver in the 50 meter free style swim and the 100 meter free style swim.
"I felt it was a bittersweet victory," said Vermillion. "It was sweet because I brought home the bronze to the Marine Corps and had enough points to qualify for the Commander's Cup. At the same time it was bitter because I felt that I had let my coach down for all that time he put into training me for gold."
Before Vermillion and Shag could go to the Warrior Games they had to compete against 250 other eligible Marines for one of the 50 spots allotted to the Marines Corps team.
"I felt honored and privileged to represent NMCSD and at first it was about the competition and to get to the game," said Vermillion. "Then you realize it's not about you, it's about the Marines still in the fight, who gave the ultimate sacrifice and the Marines who are still recovering."
Johnson was one of five Sailors who competed from the San Diego area, a first time competitor and a first time silver medalist.
"I could have had the gold medal if I had more time for training," said Johnson. "There's always time for next year."
Before Johnson sustained a spinal cord injury from a motorcycle accident last year he was very active running marathons. His only goal was to finish the race.
"It [Warrior Games] motivated me in a way I never thought possible," said Johnson. "It wasn't that important to win a medal, but to win in your heart and have a goal to meet and meet it. It sort of rejuvenates your body and soul."
For more information about the 2011 Warrior Games, visit the U.S. Olympic Committee website: http://usparalympics.org/usoc-paralympic-military-program/