Veterans Day is probably one of the most important days we have to celebrate and I almost didn’t even realize it was today. Of course a holiday to me in the middle of the week means nothing to my work schedule and I don’t get the opportunity to take a day off in remembrance, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t pay tribute. I have mentioned this before on here, but the US Olympic Training Center is also a home training base for many of the Paralympic athletes and a few of them that I have gotten to know personally are some of the most admirable Veterans I can think of. So today I just want to take a moment to say a special thank you to them personally in this public forum, as well as put a mini spotlight on the incredible people they are and the amazing way they have served our country.
While serving in the U.S. Army as a combat medic in Iraq, Kortney Clemons and three other service members were helping soldiers in an overturned vehicle when enemy forces detonated an explosive device. The explosion killed the other three service members, but Clemons’ life was spared. As a result of the blast, he lost his right leg above-the-knee.
In 2005, Sgt. Jerrod Fields lost his lower left leg after an IED exploded during a patrol in Iraq while deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division. Fields recovered from his wounds and passed all of his physical requirements with his prosthetic leg to continue on active duty with the 3rd ID at Fort Stewart in an ambitious six months instead of the doctor-predicted nine. Re-enlisted by Vice President Dick Cheney, Fields is now a Bradley Fighting Vehicle Gunner with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Squadron.
For his service, Fields was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
Seeing these athletes compete and train on a day-to-day basis just like I do is already inspiring enough. But once you have the chance to hear their story and understand exactly what they’ve been through, you realize that you’re training next to real-life heros. These men are the most brave and courageous people I personally know and I should probably tell them thank you every single day, but today I just wanted to make sure I said it extra loud. THANK YOU.