[caption id=“attachment_5712” align=“aligncenter” width=“400” caption=“Coast Guard representatives enter the Warrior Games opening ceremony. (Photo: Samantha Quigley / USO)”][/caption]

The 35 athletes on the Navy/Coast Guard team are excited to start competing in the Warrior Games. Returning two-time gold medalist Navy Lieutenant Melanie Monts de Oca is feeling very prepared for her events, particularly swimming.

“This year I actually hired a swim coach and having been working with him for the past five months, perfecting my technique,” she said. “The team’s been working really hard. I hope that we have a strong showing this year!”

Teammate Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan DeWalt is confident as well. “Team Navy/Coast Guard is gonna bring home the medals! Hopefully we’ll bring home the most and bring home the Captain’s Cup,” he said DeWalt is competing in wheelchair racing, discus, hand cycling, and wheelchair basketball, and he’s excited to show everyone what he’s got. But more importantly, he’s looking forward to spending time with fellow warriors and developing memories to last a lifetime.

"This experience is something that only speaks for itself. You can’t put the feeling in words unless you’re in the competition,” he said.

Retired Coast Guard Lieutenant Sancho Johnson also emphasized the emotional journey that is participating in the Warrior Games. Returning for his second year, he credits Navy Safe Harbor – the Navy and Coast Guard’s wounded warrior support program – and the Warrior Games with motivating him to “get back out into society.”

“This competition showed me how much I can still accomplish. [It] showed me that I can still push myself,” he said.

The Army may be ready to compete, but the Navy / Coast Guard Team says, “Bring it on!” – Vyque White, USO