HomeNewsArticle Display

Let the healing begin: Invictus Games kick off

Fireworks erupt as the flags of 15 nations are displayed during the opening ceremony for Invictus Games 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. The 2016 Invictus Games officially kicked off with the ceremony and wounded warriors will compete over the next five days in multiple adaptive sports events. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

Fireworks erupt as the flags of 15 nations are displayed during the opening ceremony for Invictus Games 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. The 2016 Invictus Games officially kicked off with the ceremony and wounded warriors will compete over the next five days in multiple adaptive sports events. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

Staff Sgt. August O’Neill is hoisted down with the Invictus flag at the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games 2016 in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. The Invictus Games are composed of 15 nations and over 500 military competitors competing in 10 sporting events May 8-12, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

Staff Sgt. August O’Neill is hoisted down with the Invictus flag at the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games 2016 in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. The Invictus Games are composed of 15 nations and over 500 military competitors competing in 10 sporting events May 8-12, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

Staff Sgt. August O'Neill and his service dog, Kai, prepare to enter the stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the Invictus Games 2016 opening ceremony in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. O'Neill delivered the Invictus Games flag after hoisting down from an HH-60G Pave Hawk. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts)

Staff Sgt. August O'Neill and his service dog, Kai, prepare to enter the stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the Invictus Games 2016 opening ceremony in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. O'Neill delivered the Invictus Games flag after hoisting down from an HH-60G Pave Hawk. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts)

Staff Sgt. August O’Neill walks in the Invictus flag with his service dog, Kai, at the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games 2016 in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. The Invictus Games are composed of 15 nations over 500 military competitors competing in 10 sporting events May 8-12, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

Staff Sgt. August O’Neill walks in the Invictus flag with his service dog, Kai, at the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games 2016 in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. The Invictus Games are composed of 15 nations over 500 military competitors competing in 10 sporting events May 8-12, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

The Invictus Games logo marks the landing zone for the arrival of the Invictus flag at the Invictus Games 2016 opening ceremony in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

The Invictus Games logo marks the landing zone for the arrival of the Invictus flag at the Invictus Games 2016 opening ceremony in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

Team U.K. enters the opening ceremony for Invictus Games 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. The British team consists of 110 wounded warrior athletes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

Team U.K. enters the opening ceremony for Invictus Games 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. The British team consists of 110 wounded warrior athletes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro shows the Patrick Air Force Base Honor Guard a photo he took of them during the opening ceremony of Invictus Games 2016 in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. The Invictus Games are composed of 15 nations with over 500 military competitors competing in 10 sporting events May 8-12, 2016. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts)

Master Sgt. Israel Del Toro shows the Patrick Air Force Base Honor Guard a photo he took of them during the opening ceremony of Invictus Games 2016 in Orlando, Fla., May 8, 2016. The Invictus Games are composed of 15 nations with over 500 military competitors competing in 10 sporting events May 8-12, 2016. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua L. DeMotts)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AFNS) -- The thudding noise of helicopter blades cut through the air, bright-colored lights sliced through smoke and fans cheered to honor the more than 500 military competitors from 15 nations who gathered at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex here May 8 to compete in Invictus Games 2016.

Staff Sgt. August O’Neill, representing the Air Force on Team U.S., kicked the events off by accepting the Invictus flag from first lady Michelle Obama and delivering the flag by being hoisted from a helicopter into the opening ceremony.

On July 15, 2011, while deployed to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, O’Neill was shot through both legs while on a mission to rescue a team of Marines under fire and taking casualties.

After 3 1/2 years and 20 surgeries, O’Neill made the decision to have his left leg amputated above the knee. In late 2015, he returned to full duty and began training to return to his pararescue team of brothers.

"If you can see others push through their pain and mobility issues and still get out here to play and come together as a team, it's very motivational," he said. "Mentally, it keeps you happy."

Competitors will participate in 10 different sporting events to include: archery, indoor rowing, cycling, powerlifting, track and field, wheelchair basketball and rugby, swimming, and wheelchair tennis.

Also in attendance for opening ceremonies were dignitaries such as Britain’s Prince Harry and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.

“These athletes are an inspiration to people worldwide and the Invictus Games gives them the stage and venue to show their resiliency and overcome adversity,” James said. “It has been an incredible honor to attend the games and meet with the athletes and families.”

The Invictus Games 2016 will continue from May 8-12. Be sure to check out the competition and follow Team U.S. by visiting www.invictusgames.org.

To see the bios of Air Force competitors, click here.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @TeamFairchild: #TeamFairchild’s 97th Air Refueling Squadron successfully completed their first mission as our newest squadron! This mis…
#MilitaryWorkingDogs have a strict diet that corresponds with their constant training regimen, but sometimes treats… https://t.co/0PWQtw7rwE
RT @thejointstaff: Meet #SEAC4 Ramon "CZ" Colon-Lopez and learn more about his role as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman and the…
RT @AirForceCE: Welcome to the Lock Shop! 🔐 Securing everything from assets to machinery, the shop plays an integral role in the larger Ai…
Have no Fear: MilTax is here! Military OneSource offers free tax prep for active duty service members and their fa… https://t.co/8TGP8ro32o
RT @AFWERX: The @usairforce just officially announced the #SparkTank2020 selectees! Congratulations to all the teams who will be presenting…
RT @USAmbNATO: I am very proud of our 🇺🇸 @usairforce airmen from the 57th Rescue Squadron who have been in 🇮🇹 #Italy training personnel rec…
RT @DVIDSHub: The #A10 Thunderbolt II is a slow yet maneuverable aircraft capable of taking and throwing hits that would render other aircr…
RT @AETCommand: There are few missions requiring years to plan/prep, only to be accomplished in less than 6 seconds. Courtesy @AirmanMagaz
Combat rescue helicopter pilots and crew undergo intensive underwater-egress training to prepare for worst-case sce… https://t.co/Z9z1kHAmay
RT @US_TRANSCOM: Look at this amazing photo of @usairforce and @RCAF_ARC C-130 Hercules aircraft taking off from #LittleRockAirForceBase. @…
Check out what's happening around the #AirForce this week! https://t.co/MCM1NiVAEN
Ice, Ice Baby ❄️❄️🌬️ Fire protection specialists at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska practice self-recover… https://t.co/tSSMzACZyz
Great job @CivilAirPatrol. 9 lives saved this year! https://t.co/43ICzmOMaX
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Privileged to spend time at our annual Weapons & Tactics Conference @NellisAFB where leaders of our combat power meet…
RT @AETCommand: Thanks @EsperDoD for visiting our 479th Flying Training Group team at @NASPCOLA! #DYK the group is the @usairforce's only…
RT @theF35JPO: Because we all love a bit of F-35 #slowmo. Watch an #F35 release flares in #slowmotion at @EdwardsAFB. ⚡ https://t.co/AIRCGL…
RT @US_SOCEUR: U.S. #airmen assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing fly a CV-22B #Osprey aircraft over #Hungary. https://t.co/sSmjq90S…
RT @HQ_AFMC: It's another #NightAtTheMuseum event at the @AFmuseum this Friday when a special evening to celebrate the final days of the Ca…