MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
For Marines like Lance Cpl. James Grove, a member of the Combat Center’s Wounded Warrior Detachment, conventional methods of rehabilitation don’t always cut it.
Grove, who broke 14 bones in a motorcycle accident in 2009, said physical therapy sessions left him feeling as if he wasn’t getting anywhere, and he wanted to take his progress to the next level.
“When I was having feelings that normal physical therapy had hit a plateau,” said the Sellersville, Penn., native. “I decided I wanted to take a different avenue.”
He turned to an alternative offered through his command, competing in the Inaugural Marine Corps Trials for the Wounded Warrior games.
Wounded, ill and injured Marines like Grove, along with other wounded from the U.S. and allied nations, gathered at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. Feb. 17 – 27 for the trials, where they competed in multiple events to claim gold, silver and bronze medals.
“It’s far less conventional,” Grove explained. “We’ve played a lot of sports and I’ve had a great experience.”
Grove, who competed in swimming, archery and wheelchair basketball, added while he wasn’t always a basketball player, he was a fan of the other two before he was injured.
“I picked swimming and archery,” he said. “They were things I was interested in and did before I was injured. [I picked] basketball because of the team aspect. It sounded like it would be a lot of fun.”
Carla Decker, a volleyball coach at the trials, said working with athletes like Grove was an enriching experience. “
I was glad to get the opportunity to come here and meet these fantastic people,” she said. “I want to keep these athletes as my friends forever. I feel like I’ve made a thousand brothers while I’ve been here.”
Decker added working with the wounded, ill and injured has helped her understand a world that was previously unknown to her.
“Working with any of these brave men has given me a chance to understand who they are and the sacrifices they make for our country,” she said. “It’s really incredible to see young men like this who have already overcome so much in their lives. I’m honored to have been able to come here and work with them.”
Australian Defense Force Warrant Officer Class 2 Dennis Ramsay, a member of the Allies team at the trials, testified from his own first-hand experience to the spirit of younger men like Grove.
“Well, having both of my legs amputated was incredibly tough,” Ramsay said. “They take great care of all of us. Seeing a lot of the young Yanks and others with something that would, you know, wreck someone psychologically, is a bit overwhelming at first.
“I know though that all these kids are pretty tough,” he added. “I’ve met a lot of strong young men who have shown me a thing or two. It’s good to see, and everything really has been a great boost not just in confidence, but reassuring for our future as well.”