More than a dozen athletes who wore a U.S. military uniform will don the colors of Team USA in March to compete in the Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
From a Marine Corps-heavy sled hockey roster to a soldier chasing curling gold, veterans of varied backgrounds will try their luck on the world Paralympic stage — some for the first time, others hoping to add to an already impressive medal case.
Who: Army veteran Kirk Black.
When: Medal rounds March 17.
Need to know: Black served in the mid-80s and early 1990s. The Texas native suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident after his time in service; he’s competing in his first Paralympics. … Team USA’s Stephen Emt played basketball at the U.S. Military Academy for two seasons before leaving school shortly after his father’s death. He ended up at Connecticut as a walk-on and would find wheelchair curling nearly two decades after being injured in a car accident.
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Who: Marine Corps veterans Jimmy Sides and Michael Spivey.
When: Snowboard cross races March 12, slalom March 16.
Need to know: Both Marines suffered injuries from improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan — Sides attempting to disarm an IED in 2012, Spivey during his second deployment in 2010. It’s the first Paralympics for both men; Spivey had top-15 finishes at last year’s world championships in both slalom and snowboard cross.
Who: Army veterans Jen Lee and Rico Roman; Marine Corps veterans Ralph DeQuebec, Travis Dodson, Luke McDermott and Josh Misiewicz.
When: Bronze-medal game March 17, gold March 18.
Need to know: Lee and Roman were part of the gold medal U.S. squad in Sochi in 2014. Roman had his left leg amputated above the knee after being hit by an IED blast in 2007 while on his third tour of Iraq; Lee was injured in a motorcycle accident in 2009 but served into 2015, including time with the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. … All four Marines suffered injuries while deployed either to Iraq or Afghanistan. … Dodson was a skier and biathlete in Sochi.
Who: Navy veteran Dan Cnossen; Air Force veteran Sean Halsted; Army veterans Bryan Price, Andy Soule and Jeremy Wagner.
When: Biathlon and cross-country skiing medals will be awarded every day throughout the games (March 9-18) save one (March 15).
Need to know: Soule, who enlisted shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was injured by an IED in Afghanistan in 2005; he’d never skied until he was introduced to the sport as part of his recovery, and he earned Team USA’s first Paralympic medal, a biathlon bronze, in the 2010 Vancouver games. … Cnossen was serving as a platoon commander with Seal Team 1 in Afghanistan in 2009 when an IED blast cost him both legs; since competing in Sochi, he’s earned a master’s degree in public administration (theological studies) at Harvard.
Who: Navy veteran Kevin Burton, Marine Corps veteran Josh Elliott.
When: Medals awarded March 10-11, 13-15 and 17-18.
Need to know: Elliott lost both his legs above the knee and three fingers on his left hand when stepped on an IED during an Afghanistan patrol in April 2011; in December of that year, he tried skiing for the first time. … Burton skied prior to being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease, in 2010. At the time, he’d served nearly a decade in the Navy as an Arabic linguist.