Twenty-six Danish soldiers are visiting the Wounded Warrior Battalion East aboard Camp Lejeune for two days of adaptive sports and friendly competition before continuing to Washington D.C. and the Virginia area.
The soldiers are part of the Danish wounded warrior program and visited the base during their tour of the United States to build relations with fellow service members.
“Everybody in the Army has a little competition in them, but this is going be fun and nobody takes it too seriously,” said Cpl. Mark Peters, a soldier with the Danish Army. “Being with these guys and having fun, that’s the important thing.”
The Marines and Danish soldiers had a brief luncheon and introductory meet and greet at Maxwell Hall within the Wounded Warrior Battalion East facility before engaging in some adaptive sports.
“I’m looking forward to basketball, that’s also in a wheelchair so I’m gonna be riding around and not scoring because this time, you have to throw the ball. In rugby you just go in a straight line,” said Cpl. Mark Peters of the Danish Army. “So I’m probably not going to whoop somebody’s ass right now.”
Peters is a double amputee who served in Afghanistan from 2006-2009. He was injured while stepping on an IED during his third and final deployment but now competes internationally during the Invictus Games as a rugby athlete.
The adaptive sports took place at Wallace Creek Fitness Center and included wheelchair basketball, seated volleyball, and rock climbing.
“So what we’ve done today is invite some Danish Army wounded warriors, who were injured in Afghanistan fighting alongside and with the Marines in Regional Command Southwest several years ago. We’ve invited them here as part of their tour to the United States to come down here and just engage in friendly competition in those adaptive sports,” said Lt. Col. Chris Hrudka, commanding officer of Wounded Warrior Battalion East.
The battalion helps Marines rebuild themselves physically and physiologically regardless of injury or illness through support services, adaptive sports and the Warrior Athletic Reconditioning Program.
“It’s a means of building camaraderie and continuing collaboration with fellow soldiers who we’ve fought side by side with. To continue that spirit of engagement and sports competitiveness…helps to build morale overall for them and for us,” Hrudka stated on Monday afternoon. “This is important because when we talk about people who are wounded, ill and injured they’re adjusting to a new normal in their life.”
One service member at Monday’s event could relate to Peters’ story more than most.
Marine Sgt. Ivan Sears, also a double amputee, is currently serving as a rifleman and wil soon make a lateral move to become an armorer.
“If I look at another double amputee I know what they’ve gone through — at least two years of physical therapy and common challenges. It’s very good to know that (the Danish) are in high spirits and keeping a good, positive outlook,” Sears said.
Sears is also a competitive athlete, winning a gold medal in the 1500-meter wheelchair racing event and a silver medal in the 100-meter event during the 2013 Warrior Games.
The Danish soldiers will have the opportunity to compete in a 9mm shooting competition aboard Stone Bay today before continuing their tour of the United States with a visit to Mount Vernon, the National Air and Space Museum and tour of the Pentagon.
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