The wait for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero is almost over! You’re probably excited about watching at least a few of the events this year, so did you know there are a handful of U.S. military members on the 555-person roster? Somehow they manage to find time to serve our country and be world-class athletes. So, to make sure they get the accolades they deserve, here is a little about each one of them.
David Higgins, Marines/Air Force Academy:
Marine Corps 2nd Lt. David Higgins has the honor of representing not one, but two of the armed services in Rio. Higgins, 21, of San Clemente, California, recently graduated from the Air Force Academy, but he made the decision to cross-commission into the Marines afterward, following in the footsteps of his father, a Marine colonel.
The newly commissioned officer has a lot to be proud of, including having earned a spot on the 2016 Olympic team, where he’ll be competing in 50-meter prone rifle shooting. After the games, Higgins is set to attend The Basic School, where he’ll prepare for duty as a company-grade officer.
Sam Kendricks, Army:
Army Reservist 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks, 23, of Oxford, Mississippi, didn’t just pole vault himself to Rio this year – he broke an Olympic trials record! Kendricks came in first at the event, clearing the bar at 5.91 meters (19 feet, 4.75 inches for those of us non-metric system users). He’s ranked 2nd in the world at the sport, which bodes well for putting him in medal contention.
Kendricks spent four years in the Army ROTC during college, graduating as a second lieutenant in 2015. He’s currently with the 655th Transportation Company in Millington, Tennessee. Once his Olympic experience is over, he’ll be heading to the Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Keith Sanderson, Army:
Sgt. First Class Keith Sanderson, 41, of San Antonio, Texas, is a skilled marksman – so good, in fact, that this is his third Olympics. Sanderson, an infantry noncommissioned officer, will compete as a 25-meter rapid-fire pistol shooter, of which he’s the most decorated in U.S. history – just check outall his accolades here.
Sanderson is part of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, but he spent the first eight years of his career in the U.S. Marine Corps. He switched to the Army Reserves, where he continues to serve and instruct soldiers and Marines in pistol marksmanship.
Edward King, Navy:
Edward King, 27, Of Ironton, Missouri, didn’t start rowing until he arrived at the U.S. Naval Academy in 2007, but he was a natural. King will compete this year in Rio on the men’s lightweight four-man crew team.
After the academy, King graduated from SEAL training and was eventually transferred to the Navy Information Operations Command at Fort Meade, Maryland. That paved the way for him to be granted an extended leave of absence in which he could get back to pursuing the sport in which he excels. King has a year left on his service contract but told a local newspaper that he plans to remain in the Navy.
Fun fact: A Navy rower hasn’t competed in the Olympics since 1988 – before King was born.
The athletes you see in the next four pics are cross-country track stars with the Army WCAP.
Hillary Bor, Army:
Sgt. Hillary Bor, 26, is set to run in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase in Rio, having come in second at the Olympic trials. The Kenyan native came to the U.S. for college in 2007 and became a naturalized citizen in 2013 when he joined the Army as a financial management technician. He’s not the only one in his family to do so, either. Bor’s two brothers are also U.S. soldiers.