Two Marines injured almost a month apart from each other in Afghanistan, both victims of improvised explosive devices, will show their warrior spirit and overcome life-threatening injuries when they compete in the Warrior Games April 30 May 5, at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Marine Logistic Officer Capt. Richard Rush was in the back of a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle (MRAP) in Nawa, Afghanistan, when it was hit with a 250-pound improvised explosive device (IED) on Jan. 9, 2010. It shattered a vertebra, sent shrapnel through his throat, and collapsed his right lung.
Two years after the IED attack, Rush is back on his feet and dealing with his injuries on his own terms.
Despite the pain Rush said he still feels each day, he decided to try out for a position on the Marine Team at the Warrior Games. Now a member of Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, detachment Hawaii, Rush went to the 2012 Marine Corps Trials in February at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he qualified for the chance to represent the Marine Corps in three events: pistol, standing rifle and archery.
Here in Hawaii, he stays sharp for the games by going to the range as often as he can, but when he cant he uses visualization techniques to stay mentally focused.
Rush is confident the Marines will maintain their win streak at the Warrior Games.
We will definitely win for our third year in a row, Rush said. We have too many people on this team who want to win. There are so many people who are just amazing to be around, when you think you are having a bad day, you just look around and you realize it could be worse. Then you see the way they carry themselves and its totally uplifting and motivating.
One of those other Marines Rush will get the chance to compete alongside of is Lance Cpl. Matthew Roach.
Roach was on a foot patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 16, 2010, when his team leader stepped on an IED three feet in front of him.
He received shrapnel wounds to his face and body and was medically evacuated from Afghanistan to Germany, and then Bethesda Md., where he received surgeries on his ear and face.
More than two years removed from the IED attack in Afghanistan, Roach, now assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, detachment Hawaii, continues medical appointments to regain his balance and his speech.
Roach, who is well on his way in his recovery, looked to challenge himself at the Warrior Games.
The Warrior Games are a pretty big thing; I decided to get into it because of the competition and camaraderie of being around others, Roach said.
Roach will compete in sit-down volleyball, discus and archery.
Through a program called War P, Roach and Rush are able to participate in many different sports that allowed them to practice and prepare for the trials, which they said helped ease their minds.
It is good and it relieves a lot of stress and you can focus on other things. Its not the end of the world -- injuries cant stop you from doing what you want to do, Roach said.
For Rush, the Warrior Games are a chance to regain a part of his life he previously considered gone.
It means a lot competing for the Marines again; this was something I was going to make my life. Getting back and being able to compete again was something I was told I wasnt going to be able to do, but being able to overcome and get back in and start competing and being with other Marines again has been an unbelievable experience, Rush said.