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 @JointBasePHH: The Sentry Aloha 19-2 exercise is taking place here at JBPHH. If you've noticed some unfamiliar aircraft in the sky, it's…
RT @AETCommand: 🙌👏 Congrats to Tech. Sgt. Stephen Conklin, @APDInfo police officer & former military working dog handler, who rocked the te…
.@detroitpolice Hello #Detroit!!! #americasairforce is in town. Check out photos from the 11th Precinct Youth Olym… https://t.co/ijzV6uVSQs
RT @airandspace: Today in 1961, Jacqueline Cochran set a new speed record for women, flying the Museum's Northrop T-38 Talon. Learn more ab…
RT @USNationalGuard: Military medical specialists from the @AirNatlGuard @usairforce @USAFReserve @USArmy @USArmyReserve and @USNavy Reserv…
RT @AETCommand: Thanks for your years of service, Wax! 🐕 In his 9 years on "active duty," Wax was a critical part of 11 U.S. Secret Servic…
RT @HQ_AFMC: The @AFMarathon will be the 229th for cancer #survivor Julia Khvasechko, who will pace the 4:25 #running group at this year's…
RT @AETCommand: 2nd Lt. Brian Lee, 333rd TRS student, completes a pull-up during the 81st SFS Defender's Challenge Ruck at @81trwKeeslerAFB
RT @AFThunderbirds: It’s day 1 of the @ROCAirShow! Catch us in the sky @ 3 pm. @AirshowStuff @icas_hq @NewsAirshow @AirShowNetwork https://…
RT @AF_Football: 1 week till go time ⚡️ https://t.co/PNoLjfIUGG
RT @DOD_Outreach: Bring the heat! The @AFThunderbirds demonstrate precision flying during the @SDairshow for thousands of members of the c…
.@AF_Academy Off we go into the wild #Blue yonder... https://t.co/JkPC0jYyAZ
RT @AETCommand: 😉 It's not really bragging if you bring home the 🏆 - is it? 📖 more at the link about how @Columbus_AFB's First Assignment…
RT @USAFHealth: Air Force Research Laboratory tests the new wireless high-noise filtering stethoscope. Learn more: https://t.co/bNj9LhB7d6…
RT @37thTRW: A #CV22 from @KIRTLAND377ABW arrived today to give hands on training to our #Airmen in this tiltrotor #aircraft ✈️ 🚁 🇺🇸 Our…
RT @HiAirGuard: We’ve had a lot of excitement on our flight line for exercise Sentry Aloha 19-2! The exercise kicked off with fighter aircr…
RT @419fw: The 419th OSF is home to about 40 Airmen who work behind the scenes of every #F35 flying mission @HAFB. Comprised of aircrew fli…
RT @AF_SBIR_STTR: In 2018, @AFWERX in collaboration with other Air Force organizations like the @AFResearchLab revamped the congressionally…
.@ActingSecAF happy birthday! Thanks for embodying the Air Force core values. INTEGRITY FIRST. SERVICE BEFORE SE… https://t.co/VFeGcblVVK
RT @USAFCENT: Watch our #F15C's "get hyped" during Exercise #HypeEagle! Stay tuned for more! @usairforce @CENTCOM @DeptofDefense @AirMobi