by Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
3/5/2015 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The 2015 Air Force Trials are underway after an opening ceremony to welcome the warriors here, Feb. 27, 2015.
This year marks the second occurrence of the Air Force Trials, both
taking place at Nellis Air Force Base. The trials are intended to
promote the health and wellness of seriously ill and injured service
"When I became injured I began a downward spiral," said John Register,
Paralympic silver medalist and narrator of the opening ceremony. "One
thing my wife did that pulled me out of that downward spiral was she
took my hand and said, 'We're going to get through this together and
make our new normal.' These games can help move past traumatic stress
and move forward to make our new normal."
Helping wounded warriors find their new normal includes healthy competition and getting to know fellow athletes.
"For many of these athletes, these Air Force Trials serve as both a
stepping stone and a celebration of a culmination of accomplishments,"
said. Maj. Gen. Margaret Poore, United States Air Force Personnel Center
commander and guest speaker. "The first-time competitors who are trying
sports as a form of recovery have overcome fears, made the commitment
to train, set a goal and arrived here in front of us ready to compete.
That, in and of itself, is a finish line. The experienced athletes who
are returning for their second trials experience, do it for a variety of
reasons, improvement from last year, competitive fire and often to help
and mentor their fellow Airmen, joint partners and international
More than 100 wounded, ill or injured service members from around the
country, competing in 13 various events, are looking to earn a spot on
the 2015 U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior Team, which will represent the
Air Force at the adaptive sports competition throughout the year.
The opening ceremony kicked off the trials with the official arrival of
athletes from Australia, Great Britain, the U.S. Army and Air Force,
followed by the presentation of colors by the Nellis AFB Honor Guard.
Guests welcomed the athletes with cheers as patriotic music was played
by the Sunrise Mountain High School Band. The Air Force Wings of Blue,
parachuted down to the ceremony carrying the U.S., Air Force, Prisoners
of War, and Wounded Warrior flags.
"I'm very happy to see our Army teammates here," Poore said. "Your
presence at this event reminds me of that infamous quote from General
Douglas McArthur, 'On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds
that on other days, on other fields will bear the fruits of victory.'
The victory he was referring to was victory in war. Here, we're talking
about victory of a different type of battle, the battle to recover from a
devastating illness or injury. On these fields the next few days, these
athletes will sow the seeds that will bear the fruits of victory of
After the general's speech, the ceremony continued with a relay passing
of the torch to light the Air Force Trials' cauldron. The torch passed
through each team of warriors before finally reaching retired Air Force
Master Sgt. Christopher Aguillera, who lit the cauldron.
Cauldron lit, everyone's attention was directed to the sky to watch a
two-ship HH-60G Pave Hawk flyover performed by 'Jolly 61'. One Pave Hawk
touched down in a field next to the ceremony and Staff Sgt. August
O'Niell accompanied by two pararescuemen exited and made their way to
the stage center, where O'Niell presented Poore with the Wounded Warrior
flag. Poore in turn presented the flag to Chief Master Sgt. Steven
Cleveland, 99th ABW command chief, on behalf of the Wounded Warrior
Program staff and the more than one thousand Airmen enrolled for the
"You have an extremely busy mission here, and were so very thankful to
you for allowing us to hold these Air Force Trials here," Poore said.