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Out of the darkness and into the light

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joshua Smoot
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Editor's Note: This is part two of a series highlighting an Airman competing in the 2014 Invictus Games held in London in September.

Staff Sgt. Christopher D'Angelo, 819th RED HORSE Squadron heavy equipment operator, started competing in wounded service member events because his chief at the time approached him and asked if he wanted to compete in a wheelchair event.

Hesitant at first, D'Angelo replied with a no.

"There are guys out there with no legs and arms, they're beat up pretty bad, worse than I am," he said. "You can't tell anything is wrong with me."

His chief claimed that it would be good for him, that it would help his healing process. Determined to begin his healing process, D'Angelo arrived at the Wounded Warrior Games, but was still tentative about getting in a wheel chair and playing volleyball with guys who were missing legs.

"I felt as though I would be teasing them by being able to get up," D'Angelo said.

D'Angelo soon realized he was the one at a disadvantage.

"They're in a wheelchair all of the time so they're a lot stronger than I am being in those chairs," he said.

D'Angelo first started competing in the Wounded Warrior Games, which are held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 2010. He has competed in the Wounded Warrior Games twice and is participating in the 2014 Invictus Game held in London this September, where he will be competing in wheelchair rugby, shooting and rowing.

Over 400 competitors from 14 nations will take part in the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women. Teams will come from the Armed Forces of nations that have served alongside each other.

The Invictus Games will use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect of those who serve their country, according to

The Invictus Games which are supported by Prince Harry will be a celebration of resilience and passion.

The event will shine a spotlight on Armed Forces personnel and veterans who have put their lives on the line for their country demonstrating how they and their families are valued, respected and supported. For competitors, it will offer a memorable, inspiring and energizing experience in their journey of recovery, according to

Although this is his first Invictus Games, D'Angelo has experience in participating in events for wounded service members.

"I think participating in these games helps out wounded people a lot," D'Angelo said. "It has done wonders for me by being with people that have gone through the same situations as me.

"It's an amazing feeling being around all of those guys and seeing what they can accomplish, such as seeing a guy swim with no legs.

"It's a pretty amazing feat, overcoming obstacles that you've encountered. I think the competition definitely helps out."

D'Angelo believes that participating in events such as these help people mentally and physically to get their mind off whatever physical or mental injuries they may be going through.

D'Angelo says it is not the competition, but the camaraderie that he enjoys the most.

During the events, everyone is considered normal. Regardless if they have prosthetic legs or no arms, he said.

"People come together and they're there to fight to win for their brothers and sisters. It's an amazing feeling," D'Angelo said.