By Marlon J. Martin
Office of the U.S. Army Surgeon General
WEST POINT, N.Y. (June 21, 2016) – U.S. Army Veteran Master Sgt. Shawn "Bubba" Vosburg recalled being "lost and in a dark place" when he joined the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bliss, Texas in 2014.
Vosburg, who at the time was recovering from his fifth leg surgery resulting from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, was also coping with the unexpected death of his "little brother," a Navy corpsman who was killed in Afghanistan during combat operations.
In memory of his brother, Vosburg opted not to retire at 26 years as he had previously planned. Telling his commander to rip up his retirement papers, Vosburg decided to recommit himself to the pre-deployment training of more young Soldiers deploying into harm's way. To his dismay, however, he would soon be dealt yet another crushing blow.
This time, Vosburg was saddened to learn that he would be medically retired, falling short of his goal to complete a full career of 30 years.
Completely lost and in a very dark place, Vosburg found "a burst of fresh air" in adaptive sports. Along with the support of his "loving wife," he managed to rejuvenate his life and is now proud to be among the 45 U.S. Army wounded, ill and injured athletes who competed for Team Army in the Department of Defense Warrior Games hosted at the United States Military Academy, June 15-21.
"The competition is really fierce... it's the elite of the Wounded Warriors who are invited here and to Invictus and the Endeavor Games, but the true spirit of the game is bringing all the services together; all your wounded together, and we all co-exist," said Vosburg. "We fight together; we bleed together on the battlefield, so when we get here to the competition, it’s friendly strife," said Vosburg, who was selected as one of the Army's five alternates.
Skilled in marksmanship, Vosburg said his primary events during the DoD Warrior Games are archery and shooting. Yet, he also ensured he was ready to compete in track (shot put and discus), sitting volleyball, and wheelchair basketball. He didn't expect to compete as an alternate, but was pleasantly surprised when he learned that fellow athlete, U.S. Army Veteran Sgt. Robbie Gaupp of Gatesville, Texas, had pulled out of the archery event and requested that "Bubba" shoot on his behalf.
"That’s the humbling part of these games... everyone is here for each other and the team. Just the thought of it still brings me to tears," exclaimed Vosburg, appearing overcome by emotion. "He didn’t have to do that; he didn’t have to give me that chance! He didn’t have to give up his spot for me to compete in one of my primary sports, but he did and that’s a humbling thing."
Vosburg was also called upon to represent Team Army in the rifle and pistol shooting events, as well. According to Gaupp, who said he has known and trained with Vosburg over the past two years, these moments can change a person's life.
"It was easy to pass the torch to Bubba," said Gaupp. "He's a great competitor; a great athlete. He performed great. I know he didn't do as well as he would've liked, but that's to be expected. Archery is a learning sport."
"I know I could've competed and done fairly well, but why not give the opportunity to someone else like Bubba who works hard and who's here to compete? Everyone is not given the next day, and I hope this changed his life for the moment," said Gaupp, attributing the success of the DoD Warrior Games to athletes working together as a team and exhibiting selflessness.
Vosburg was not only thankful for this opportunity to compete and help Team Army, but also excited to be "out here competing with these 20 year olds."
"We battle hard with each other, but after every event, we’re all on each other’s sidelines clapping, high fiving, hugging, and talking," said Vosburg, commenting on the camaraderie and esprit de corps the athletes enjoy. "I have just as many friends on the SOCOM team, the Marine team, and the Air Force team. I have a few friends on the Navy team as I do on the Army team, so bringing us all together and letting us all co-mingle is great. I don’t know how anyone cannot be inspired by watching these guys."
|Date Posted:||06.25.2016 10:46|
|Location:||WEST POINT, NY, US|
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