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Captain Excited to Lead U.S. Team at Invictus Games

TORONTO, Sept. 25, 2017 — A pilot who returned to active duty after losing her leg to an accident said she's honored to lead the U.S. team this week at the Invictus Games here.

"It's a complete honor," Air Force Capt. Christy Wise said. "Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve it, but all of the other amputees and wounded warriors did so much for me when I was initially injured. I'm a little further in my recovery, and anything I can do to help and inspire others, I feel that's my job to do. I love it."

Wise, who's served for 11 years as an HC-130 Hercules pilot, had her right knee amputated above the knee after an April 2015 boating accident. She competed in the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games nine weeks after her injury. She has earned 11 medals at the DoD Warrior Games and Invictus Games in wheelchair race, swimming, hand cycle, shot put and discus.

Wise said she's excited to see her teammates compete throughout the week. "I'm excited to see the team events -- that's where it gets really intense, the volleyball and rugby. It will be fun to watch those," she said. "We're always really good at rugby and basketball. We've got one or two Paralympic athletes on those teams, so those are my favorites to watch. And in rugby, they're just bashing each other, flipping chairs over. It's exciting to watch. It's really cool."

Making Friends

Making friends and sharing techniques is the theme among all of the competitors here, she said. "It's amazing. Everywhere we go, we're always making friends," she said. "What events are you doing? How do you manage sweat? How do you keep from blisters? We're all helping each other out. We're still competitive, but we're all here for each other."

The Canadians have been great hosts, Wise said. One of the Canadian team's captains is an above-the-knee amputee, she noted. "He's back to duty, I'm back to duty, so we have that camaraderie as well," she said. "So it's cool that he's doing all of the running events too, so it's been awesome to hang out with him."

Wise said she recommends adaptive sports to anyone with a disability. "I just want everyone to know that you're really capable of everything," she said. "None of us wanted to be here. No one wanted to lose legs or be in a wheelchair, but this is what life gave us. Just keep living your life. Keep competing. You're capable of more than you think."

More than 550 wounded, ill and injured service members from 17 nations compete in 12 sporting events including archery, track and field, cycling, golf, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball at the Invictus Games, which run through Sept. 30.

(Follow Shannon Collins on Twitter: @CollinsDoDNews)