Story by Cpl. Cuong Le
For veteran Anthony Rios, a member of the All-Marine Team, this will be a new chapter in his life. Rios was injured on May 8, 2010, during an ambush in Marja, Afghanistan. While attempting to hit an enemy machine gun nest with his M203 grenade launcher, an enemy rocket exploded in front of him, sending molten hot shrapnel into his leg.
“From what I remember, I tried to get back up, I could feel the rounds hitting all around me kind of like a swarm of bees, so I reached down and I could feel my rifle underneath me, I grabbed the handle and as I pushed up to start firing I realized that I was hit,” said Rios. “I fell backwards into a plank and looked down and I could see my utilities were all shredded, I could see that my whole leg was messed up.”
Upon seeing Rios fall backward, his team assumed that he had been shot, unaware that the shrapnel from the rocket had hit him earlier.
“After I let them know I was hit but ok, I wrapped myself up and began firing back at the enemy,” said Rios. “It was difficult because all my muscles from the waist down had completely shut down, but I did my best to continue firing at the enemy until the field radio operator came and took me to a safe spot.”
The firefight lasted for 45 minutes before help arrived to support Rios and his team.
“You never know what you can do unless you are pushed against a wall, and then you find out who you are,” said Rios. “I don’t know what I thought of myself beforehand, so much has changed since, but when I think of myself now, I am proud of who I am.”
Rios was later assigned to the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West where he learned about the DoD Warrior Games from his friend Jenae Piper, also a member of the All-Marine Team.
“I met him at the Hope and Care Center in 2013 when he was going through his recovery process,” said Piper. “He is one of my biggest supporters and the fact that he has been there every single time we did practices or anytime we did a new run somewhere he would be there and he would be there supporting me.”
After getting a taste for the Warrior Games at the Marine Corps Trials, Rios signed up for the 2015 DoD Warrior Games hosted by Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
No matter what was going on with him, he would still find time to help those around him.
“I would say that no matter what it is you are trying to do, he would be the person that would actually help you do it even if he didn’t agree with the sport that you are trying,” said Piper. “If you have the passion for it and want to success in it, then he would go out there and train with you everyday.”
Although Rios has suffered both physical and mental injuries he always finds a way to push through and see the better side of life.
“I never really fully recovered from my injury, it’s just one of those things that is always going to be that way in my life,” said Rios. “So I changed my life and now being here doing this kind of thing with these kind of guys it’s what’s working for me.
“It’s more therapeutic than any counseling session I have ever been in and it has worked better than any pill that I have ever taken.”