WEST POINT—The Marine Corps and Team Army played in the gold medal basketball championship with Team Army taking the gold on the last day of the DoD 2016 Warrior Games on June 21 at West Point.
Superintendent of West Point, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen stood on the sidelines cheering his team. When asked who he wanted to see win, Caslen unsurprisingly said, “We want to see an Army victory,” and added, “but everybody is a winner here. It’s inspiring.”
Caslen said it was honor for West Point to host the 2016 Games. “It is the least that West Point can do. We are the heart of the profession of arms.”
Team Army led most of the time but pulled ahead significantly after half time. During half time, some hefty cheerleaders for Team Army stood before Marines fans and cheered in the somewhat intimidating manner of the famed New Zealand rugby players, the Blacks.
A contingent from the UK Armed Forces cheered both teams from the bleachers. UK cycler Ken De Soyza said the games for him have been pretty amazing.
DeSoyza was discharged in 2002 with the rank of squadron leader in the Royal Air Force, equivalent to a U.S. major. He first trained for the U.K.’s Invictus games in cycling. He said he continually increased his personal best in the 10K.
Who did he want to win? “That’s a tough call,” he said, “but I would say U.S. Army because they have looked after us so well here at West Point.” As a Brit who cheers for the underdog, he finally split his vote. “So I go either way,” he said with a laugh.
Competing in the Warrior Games had special meaning for De Soyza. “It’s a realization that people are proud of our service and contribution to our country. I hadn’t realized that the American people, that it was so important to them.” He choked up a bit when he said that everyone he met has given the Brits “a lot of consideration and a lot of love. That has really been…that has really been important to me.”
In an outdoor amphitheater, the crowd was entertained by Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band whose motto is: “Honor. Gratitude. Rock & Roll.” Sinise and his band played all types of music to please every age in the audience.
Other dignitaries present to close the games included Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Lt. Gen Caslen, Asst. Sec. of the Navy the Hon. Franklin Parker, and Vice Adm. Dixon Smith.
The Navy will host the 2017 Games next year with the city of Chicago.
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