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59th MW systems administrator earns silver medal at Invictus Games

By Jose T. Garza III | JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs | Sept. 29, 2014

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — A 59th Medical Support Squadron systems administrator earned a silver medal as a member of the United States Armed Forces National Team at the first ever Invictus Games, Sept. 12 in London.

Staff Sgt. Mark Johnson earned the medal competing in Wheelchair Rugby after the U.S. national team suffered a 13-12 loss to the United Kingdom. Despite coming up short in the gold medal game, Johnson said his experience in London was amazing.

"It was cool because it was my first major international competition," the staff sergeant said. "It was a dream come true to perform on an international stage."

The Invictus Games was started by Prince Harry of Wales after he attended the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. The games featured teams from 13 nations comprised of injured active duty and veteran service members who competed in track & field, wheelchair rugby and basketball, archery, indoor rowing, road cycling, seated volleyball, powerlifting and swimming.

Johnson, whose right leg was amputated following a motorcycle accident in April 2013, described the close-scoring gold medal game as "intense."

"It was two superpowers going against each other, and the fans were going crazy," he said. "(Not winning the gold) was heartbreaking but not too much because we took the silver medal and represented our country the best we could."

Johnson became aware of the Invictus Games via the Air Force Wounded Warrior program. The program encouraged him to participate in the South Texas Area Regional Adaptive and Paralympic Sports program in February following his recovery at the Center for the Intrepid at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. He said competition helped him with his recovery.

"I was in rehab for seven months and learned to walk again while gaining my strength and balance back," Johnson said. "Competing in this event showed that I can lead a normal life and there are no limits to what I can accomplish as long as I put the dedication and work in."

Johnson said he will resume training in October for the 2015 Warrior Games trials and hopes to compete in next year's Invictus Games.