Still in the fight: All-Marine team closing in on Warrior Games success

22 May 2011 | By Sgt. Michael S. Cifuentes

The Marines continue to dominate the competition at the 2011 Warrior Games, and the gold medals continue stacking.

“Win or lose, the Marines have already proven that they’re truly the best,” said Sgt. Maj. John Ploskonka, Wounded Warrior Regiment sergeant major.

The heat was on for the defending Chairman’s Cup champions when they entered the Warrior Games. The Marines said they were a huge target to the other services, who came for redemption in many of the events.

In a heartbreaking game, the All-Marine team fell short to the Army in one of the premier events, wheelchair basketball.

Other than the tough game for the Marines, they are defending their title in stride garnering most of gold medals and an event away from the Chairman’s Cup.

The Warrior Games serve as an introduction to Paralympic sports for wounded warriors by inspiring recovery, physical fitness, and promoting new opportunities for growth and achievement.

“It lifts the Marines’ spirits when they’re focusing on their abilities, instead of their disabilities,” said Ploskonka.

Cpl. Clifford Sandy, a force on the wheelchair basketball team, said “excellence is expected when you put Marines in competitions.”

“The competition is fierce, and it’s causing us to thrive. The Marine Corps trained us to be that way,” he said. “Not only are we repping (representing) the Corps, we’re doing an awesome job at it.”

Sandy’s teammate, Lance Cpl. Jese Schag, said his motivation is “the love of the game.” Just like Sandy, Schag is a top scorer on the wheelchair basketball team and the sitting volleyball team’s strength in front of the net.

The commanding officer of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, Col. John Mayer, said all the Marines have a great gift and it means a lot to the Marine Corps to share it. The regiment’s executive officer was highly motivated by the culmination of the Warrior Games.

“I’ve never seen such an awesome bunch of no-legged ass kickers in my life,” said Col. Jay Krail, executive officer for the Wounded Warrior Regiment.

The Marines will step to the Army again May 21 in sitting volleyball. They beat the soldiers in the tiebreaker match of a best-of-three series during the round robin games.

Staff Sgt. Jedidiah Vermillion of the sitting volleyball team foresees a more extreme outcome in the game where the gold medal is at stake.

“The only thing the Army has to look forward to now is total domination, devastation, carnage and defeat,” said Vermillion. “We will show them no mercy.”

Headquarters Marine Corps