PITTSBURGH -- Team USA athletes who marched into the closing ceremony of the 6th Military World Games Oct. 11 in Mungyeong, South Korea, proudly wore 17 medals earned in competition against more than 100 nations.
Eight of those medals were earned by wounded warriors who competed for the first time in the Conseil International du Sport Militaire, or CISM World Games. Although para-athletics and para-archery were deemed demonstration sports for their debut in the games, and the medals were not tallied in the official standings on the Korea2015 webpage, no difference from other award ceremonies could be seen in the stadium.
During the awards ceremonies, troops from all nations saluted as the stars and stripes were raised and the sound of the national anthem filled the venue. USA's Chief of Delegation Steven Dinote said he was extremely proud of the para-athletes who earned medals in every one of the sports they entered.
All of the USA athletes represented DOD and the United States well, Dinote said. "They are Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen first and foremost, yet they have the extraordinary ability to reach such an elite level and perform on the world stage in an event that is second only to the Olympic Games," he said.
The CISM World Games are held every four years, one year before the Olympic Summer Games. This year Team USA won gold in women's sailing and formation skydiving, as well as silver in Greco-Roman wrestling. The women's golf team earned a silver medal, the men's golf team earned bronze, and USA women earned a bronze team medal in the marathon. The athletes ran the marathon just hours before the closing ceremony.
Air Force Lt. Col. Brenda Schrank led the women's marathon team to bronze, finishing with a time of 2:51:33. Just behind her in 16th place was Air Force Staff Sgt. Emily Shertzer, who finished with a time of 2:51:54. Army Capt. Meghan Curran rounded out the USA's third-place team, finishing 20th at 3:05:38.
Poland's Iwona Lewandowska, the CISM record holder, led her team to gold with the day's best time of 2:31:25. Yugui Ma led China to silver with a time of 2:31:40.
Team USA earned three other bronze medals that weren't counted in the official standings. The medals were awarded in the senior category of the triathlon, where athletes swam 1.5 kilometers against heavy surf off the Pohang beach, then biked 40 kilometers and ran 10 kilometers.
Air Force Reserve Maj. Judith Coyle earned bronze with an overall time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 27.69 seconds. Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan Mason took a bronze in the men's senior category with a time of 2:02:54.78. Together with Navy Capt. Leslie Warren Boyer III, who finished at 2:07:28.59, they earned USA a mixed-team bronze.
Golf team medals
Team USA women were in fifth place after the second day of golf at Top-Bliss Country Club in Andong, South Korea. Air Force Maj. Linda Jeffery shot a 74 in her third round and her teammate Col. Shauna Snyder shot an 89, moving them up to fourth place. They were still 42 shots behind front-runner France, four shots behind runner-up South Africa and three shots behind Korea.
The narrow, steep fairways took a toll on the last day, though, with South Africa's leader Karin Watts shooting an 81 and Korea's Ju Jeoung an 89, compared to Jeffery's 79. Jeffery shot a total of 324 for the four rounds of golf, finishing fourth individually. Snyder shot 369 for the 72 holes, tying USA with South Africa for second place, but earning USA the silver medal due to low round of the day.
The men's team medal came down to the last player on the last hole. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Wesolowski needed a birdie for USA to medal and he made it.
Army Capt. Joe Cave shot an overall 293 to lead the men to a bronze. Cave was two under par and in fourth place going into the last round, but ended up 12th. Cpl. Jordan-Tyler Massey finished 17th overall with a score of 298. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Spencer Mims and Wesolowski tied for 34th with Frederic Alba of France, all scoring 317. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kaleb Nichols finished 51st with a score of 331 and Navy Lt. Will Boyd shot 342 to finish 59th out of 83 golfers, many of whom were PGA professionals from other nations, according to coach Doug Quirie.
Team USA beat out Russia for gold in women's two-person dinghy sailing Oct. 7 in the port of Pohang, South Korea. U.S. Navy Lt. Trisha Kutkiewicz and Ensign Mary Hall actually finished the final race a boat-length behind the Russians and didn't realize they had won mathematically based on total points after 11 races. They came ashore disappointed until the official tally was posted an hour later showing USA had won by a single point.
Team USA parachutists set a world record as they beat out China to take the gold in women's formation skydiving Oct. 7, in Pohang, South Korea.
Four female members of the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team performed 33 formations in 35 seconds during their last jump. Sgt. 1st Class Angela Nichols led a team of Sgt. 1st Class Laura Davis, Sgt. 1st Class Dannielle Woosley and Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Davidson. Sgt. 1st Class Scott Janice jumped immediately behind the women to videotape their airborne formations from above for the judges.
U.S. Army Sgt. Justin Lester took silver Oct. 10 in Greco-Roman wrestling in the 75-kilogram division at the gymnasium in downtown Mungyeong. He beat opponents from China, Poland and Egypt before losing in the final to Korea's Jin Hyeok Kim.
In para-track and field, Army Sgt. Elizabeth Wasil earned a gold in women's shot put. Army Sgt. Robert Brown earned a gold in the men's 100-meter dash and a silver in the 200-meter (Class A).
Marine Corps Sgt. Ivan Sears earned gold medals in the men's 100-meter and 200-meter wheelchair races and the men's 1500-meter race (Class D), along with a bronze medal in the men's para-shot put.
Army Staff Sgt. Michael Lukow earned a silver medal in men's individual recurve for para-athletes, scoring a total of 125 points, just shy of the 127 earned by gold medalist Romaios Roumeliotis of Greece.
The USA men's soccer team won their final game in overtime and beat Canada, 3-2. After losing to Korea, Algeria and Qatar, Team USA fought France to a draw, 1-1, and went on to play Canada Oct. 10 for their final match. Army 1st Lt. Trent Brown scored the first goal with a header shot. Petty Officer 1st Class Ian Schinelli scored the second goal. Canada's David Jeffery scored a goal and then a ball deflected off a USA player into their own goal.
"What made it tough was the rain," said goalkeeper Army Staff Sgt. Josh Blodgett from Fort Irwin, California. He said the wet turf made the ball move faster and skip off the grass. The second half ended with the score 2-2. In overtime, Trent scored the winning goal.
Several soccer players said they especially enjoyed the closing ceremony. They had missed the opening ceremony because they had been playing Algeria on the same afternoon at another stadium about an hour away.
"I think the performance was pretty cool," said Blodgett of the closing ceremony. "It looked like they put a lot of time and effort into it."
Army Capt. Andrew Hyres, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, also said he enjoyed the experience and hopes that he will get to play four years from now when the 7th CISM World Games are held in China.
Part of the closing ceremony focused on a cultural preview of Wuhan, capital city of central China's Hubei province.
Army Spc. Ken Hayes, of the soccer team, said he appreciated the visuals of the Chinese dance as performers depicted peacocks, butterflies and blossoms with the tapestry they twirled.
"The colors were very beautiful," Hayes said. "It was very different -- kind of what you'd see in an Olympic ceremony."
Korean pop star Kim Jaejoong sang the Korean folk song, Arirang, in the center of the stadium to thundering applause as many athletes on the field snapped photos. Then the stadium's flame was extinguished and fireworks capped the ceremony.
Jordan Bradley of the 7th Explosive Ordnance Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, said he really enjoyed the interaction with all the athletes from other nations when everyone was invited onto the center field of the stadium for the final act.
"The games provided our service members a unique experience to interact with other military athletes from around the world," Dinote said. He added that it's something most service members will never have the opportunity to experience during their careers.
The 2015 CISM Military World Games was one of the largest delegations that U.S. Armed Forces Sports sent overseas since the 1999 Games in Zagreb, Croatia, Dinote said. The total delegation size of 240 included 165 athletes, along with 75 coaches and staff, to include medical teams.
"During the two weeks during the Games, it was our mission to give them the experience of a lifetime and treat them all like World-Class Athletes they are," Dinote said.