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Marine Archer Finishes Warrior Games Participation With Flair

WEST POINT, N.Y., June 19, 2016 — Medically retired Sgt. Clayton McDaniel finished his 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games participation on a high note at the U.S. Military Academy here June 17, earning a bronze medal as part of the Marine Corps compound archery team.

About 250 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and United Kingdom armed forces are competing in shooting, archery, cycling, track and field, swimming, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

Throughout his career at the DoD Warrior Games, McDaniel has earned medals in shooting, archery and wheelchair basketball. Last month, he represented not only the Marine Corps, but also Team USA at the Invictus Games. He helped the team earn a gold medal in the compound team round in archery and a gold medal in wheelchair basketball. He received his second gold medal and accolades from Britain’s Prince Harry, Vice President Joe Biden and the vice president’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden.

“At the moment, it doesn’t hit you, but then you think, ‘Did I just get a gold medal here?’” McDaniel said. “It felt incredible -- there are just no words to describe it. Representing the Marine Corps and Team USA, it just gives me chills thinking about it.”

Carrying on Tradition

McDaniel said he joined the Marine Corps because of tradition. “I wanted a good brotherhood I could stand by and have a good family to back me up,” he said. “I always thought the Marines were the best and wanted to carry on the tradition that went before me. His older brother also joined the Marine Corps.

He said his favorite part of being in a Marine was the camaraderie. “The camaraderie we had -- the brotherhood and being able to lead by example and mentor others -- the whole atmosphere about being a Marine is really honoring,” McDaniel said.

Overcoming Injury

While out on a convoy during combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in 2010, McDaniel injured his hips. He had his right hip replaced in December and will have his left hip replaced soon. He also has post-traumatic stress.

In 2012, while recovering in a wounded warrior battalion in Hawaii, he said, he picked up a bow for the first time and has pursued archery ever since. Having played baseball and football in college, events such as the DoD Warrior Games help him feel like an athlete again, he added.

“They make me feel like I can still consider myself to be an athlete as long as I go out there and train for it,” he explained. “If you train for a sport, and you’re participating in it, you’re an athlete.”

McDaniel said archery helps him with his PTSD. “It helps me relax and calm down. Coach John Fuller, he was the Marine archery coach, he taught me a lot of lessons about archery. The one thing I will take away is ‘one shot at a time.’ It doesn’t matter what happened before or what you’re thinking about in the future. Just focus on that one shot.

“I definitely use that for therapeutic reasons as well,” he continued. “If I’m having a bad day. I just think, ‘What calms me down if I can’t go to the range? What can I do? Maybe I can focus on my shot process for archery, one shot at a time.’”

Favorite Part

McDaniel said his favorite part about competing in the DoD Warrior Games is being around his fellow Marines again.

“I felt incredibly honored to even be on the Marine team, and then being on the receiving end of all that the Warrior Games has to offer just blew my mind and made me feel at home and made me feel like, ‘Yes, I’m not in the Marines Corps, but I can still have my time with my Marines again.’ That’s what I cherish most about the Warrior Games,” he said.

McDaniel has brought his wife, Sarah, and his 9-year-old son, Clayton Jr., to many of his competitions over the years. He said his goal has been to teach Clayton that winning or losing doesn’t matter. “What matters most is having fun,” he said. “I like being able to set that example.” McDaniel said he bought his son a bow and has started to teach him how to shoot, but he’s waiting to see if he has “the drive to play.”

McDaniel said he will continue to participate in competitions, set the example, and live by his favorite quote by Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Mastin Robeson, a former U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command commanding general who retired in 2010: “It’s not what we do that matters, but it’s who we are when we do it that counts.”

“I believe the one thing to take away from here is regardless if you win or lose, we’re all here together, and we’re all here as a family,” McDaniel said. “We all want to be the best for each other.”
Distribution channels: Military