Daily Picture Show

Faces Of Wounded Warriors

During the preliminary swim competition at the Warrior Games for injured service members, I put my camera down — a poor decision for a photographer. But I stopped to completely take in the scene unfolding in the pool below.

  • Marine Capt. Jonathan Disbro gets ready to dive into the practice pool at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Disbro was one of 50 Marines chosen to attend the first-ever Warrior Games.
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    Marine Capt. Jonathan Disbro gets ready to dive into the practice pool at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Disbro was one of 50 Marines chosen to attend the first-ever Warrior Games.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Army Spc. Dominique Haynes, 21, of Atlanta, prepares for running practice at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he is receiving physical therapy for burns from a stove explosion. Haynes was chosen to attend the 2010 Inaugural Warrior Games in Colorado Springs.
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    Army Spc. Dominique Haynes, 21, of Atlanta, prepares for running practice at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he is receiving physical therapy for burns from a stove explosion. Haynes was chosen to attend the 2010 Inaugural Warrior Games in Colorado Springs.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Army Spc. Craig C. Smith practices for the wheelchair basketball tournament at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Smith is receiving treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
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    Army Spc. Craig C. Smith practices for the wheelchair basketball tournament at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Smith is receiving treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Army Warrant Officer Johnathan Holsey leaves his starting position during track practice at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, in preparation for the Warrior Games.
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    Army Warrant Officer Johnathan Holsey leaves his starting position during track practice at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, in preparation for the Warrior Games.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Army Sgt. Lilina A. Benning collects arrows during archery practice at Brooke Army Medical Center. Benning was injured in Baghdad in 2007, resulting in a left foot amputation and damage to her left arm.
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    Army Sgt. Lilina A. Benning collects arrows during archery practice at Brooke Army Medical Center. Benning was injured in Baghdad in 2007, resulting in a left foot amputation and damage to her left arm.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Army Sgt. 1st class Richard Sammon, 43, practices at the shooting range at the TMI private school in San Antonio. Sammon, who suffers from a herniation of the lower back, took part in the air rifle and sit volleyball competitions.
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    Army Sgt. 1st class Richard Sammon, 43, practices at the shooting range at the TMI private school in San Antonio. Sammon, who suffers from a herniation of the lower back, took part in the air rifle and sit volleyball competitions.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Capt. Juan Guerrero competed in the 20k cycling race at the Warrior Games. Guerrero suffered injuries to both legs in 2007 while serving with the Army in Iraq.
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    Capt. Juan Guerrero competed in the 20k cycling race at the Warrior Games. Guerrero suffered injuries to both legs in 2007 while serving with the Army in Iraq.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Army Sgt. Robert Laux, who is currently being treated at Walter Reed Medical Center, practices shot put at the Air Force Academy.
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    Army Sgt. Robert Laux, who is currently being treated at Walter Reed Medical Center, practices shot put at the Air Force Academy.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Army Staff Sgt. Charles Bunyard, from Fort Hood, Texas, practices before the air rifle shooting competition at the Olympic Training Center.
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    Army Staff Sgt. Charles Bunyard, from Fort Hood, Texas, practices before the air rifle shooting competition at the Olympic Training Center.
    Katie Hayes for NPR
  • Army Spc. Robert Nuss practices shot put at the Air Force Academy before the Warrior Games.
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    Army Spc. Robert Nuss practices shot put at the Air Force Academy before the Warrior Games.
    Katie Hayes for NPR

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From a bird's-eye view on the catwalk over the pool at the Olympic Training Center, I could see that all of the swimmers had finished the race, except for one lone participant struggling in the middle of the pool. His pace slowed, his legs no longer kicked vigorously and he worked to keep his head above the water. As he reached out toward the lane divider, I lowered my camera, wondering if anyone was going to help him. A moment passed, he caught his breath, the crowd cheered louder and he started to swim again. And I picked up my camera.

My personal goal became to capture individual athletes during practice and competition, wanting to give a broad perspective of injuries and personalities. With only 200 soldiers participating in the Warrior Games, I started to see the same faces over and over again, reminding me that individual stories don't matter as much at an event like this. At every moment I was surrounded by people with compelling stories doing extraordinary things — even if that extraordinary thing was just reaching the other end of the pool.

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