Hosted by U.S. Special Operations Command, the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games kicked off Saturday in Tampa.
About 300 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from all five services are competing in 14 sports. They are joined by military athletes from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Jon Stewart, the former host of TV’s The Daily Show, hosted the opening ceremony. Although most viewers might recall him as one of the nation’s funniest men, he’s also a longtime supporter of service members, military veterans and civilian first responders (his heartfelt plea to aid 9/11 first responders might be one of the best testimonies ever to echo through the halls of Congress).
And now he’s also the hero of Tampa — at least on video.
On Sunday night, the City of Tampa released a video starring Stewart, SOCOM commander Army Gen. Richard Clarke, Army Staff Sgt. Lauren Montoya, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and several other notables as they race to save the Warrior Games’ torch from the clutches of an evildoer.
Check it out for yourself!
Stewart is slated to emcee the closing ceremonies on June 30, too.
He’s acknowledged a special connection to a number of the participants. All the athletes are recovering from a range of maladies, including spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; illnesses; and post-traumatic stress disorder.
They will go head-to-head in 14 sports including, archery, cycling, time-trial cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and ﬁeld, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, powerlifting, and — for the ﬁrst time at the Warrior Games — golf, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby.
The Warrior Games were established in 2010 as a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors and to expose them to adaptive sports.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.