PORTLAND -- Two dozen Marines blown up in battle but saved in hospitals gathered in the Portland area this week to focus on sports.
They are part of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, part of the Marines, and not to be confused with the Wounded Warrior Project which is a non-profit.
The men and women are from all over the country.
Sgt. Deontra Tyler is from Atlanta and rebuilding his life in San Diego.
“I haven’t ran in like two years so this was like a first step for me to try to get back moving,” he said after a run around the Nike track at its world headquarters in Beaverton.
Tyler was shot in the hip during an ambush in Southern Afghanistan. The bullet broke his hip and shattered the top of his leg bone. Doctors said he'd be lucky to walk again.
“I'm a little better. I'm not 100 percent but I'm getting there,” he said with a smile.
The track and field camp helps everyone involved, including Sgt. Garret Deffert who grew up in Hillsboro.
“I've had about ten brain injuries all together from blasts since I’ve been in. Over 10 years, 5 deployments,” Sgt. Deffert said.
He has to wear special glasses to help calm his injured brain and cannot run. But he's a tough competitor in the wheelchair.
“And it’s very important to me because I’ve always been very physical especially growing up here in Oregon being runners country,” Sgt. Deffert said.
He said the Wounded Warrior Regiment gave him a team again, a place to belong, a reason to connect with the world again.
“It helps us kind of break out of our shell cause a lot of people come back and have alot of PTSD and kinda hole themselves up in a room and really don’t branch out cause they're dealing with alot of inner problems. I kinda dealt with that myself,” said Sgt. Deffert. “The physical activities we have are actually allowing me to become part of a team again."
His coach, Sgt. Mike Pride understands. He suffered a crushed arm when a bomb flipped his Humvee. His arm was outside the window and the Humvee landed on it.
“I was taught as a marine you have to show up to the fight to get results. And that's what I tell them. Just show up and get results. And if you don’t like it at least you can say that I did try," he said.
The athletes are training for trials in the spring of 2014 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Some will be chosen to represent the Marines at the Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The marines are called the few and the proud.
This sports camp reminds those with broken bodies that the slogan still applies to them.