by Dustin Senger
“The worst thing you can do to a warrior is take him out of his warrior tribe,” said
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Livesay, a leg amputee and former Special Forces medical sergeant.
Competitions keep wounded warriors recovering by fueling their fighting spirit, said Livesay, who united with 17 other expert war fighters to form the first special operations team to compete in the Warrior Games.
Livesay initially registered with the Army. However, two months before the games, 20 slots were allocated for a new special operations team. He detached from his service connection to represent the military’s elite, such as the Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Air Force Combat Controllers.
Livesay is assigned to the World Class Athlete Program at Fort Carson. The Soldier says athletic events help wounded warriors “see what they can still achieve.”
On April 7, 2003, the Green Beret was pinned down in a brutal ambush in southern Baghdad. Automatic rifle bullets and rocket-propelled grenades seemed to arrive from all sides, he said. A 7.62 mm bullet tore into his left knee, severing a major artery. What’s more, a deadly bacterium slipped into his wound.
“I was about a day from being dead,” said Livesay. Army physicians at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., removed his infected limb, severing it two inches above his knee. “It’s a miracle that I survived the battlefield.”
Livesay has transitioned his warrior spirit from securing combat zones to earning national rankings in rowing and sitting volleyball. His sights are currently set on representing the United States in the Paralympic Games.
“The level of competition here is higher than I expected – the natural rivalry between the branches is definitely amped up,” said Livesay, regarding the Warrior Games. “If you come here thinking you’re just going to have a good time and participate, you’re going to get embarrassed.”
Livesay competed in archery, swimming and sitting volleyball. He didn’t medal until the final day, when special operations defeated the Navy and Coast Guard in volleyball.
“Nobody expected us to win a match since we were a team thrown together at the last minute,” he said, immediately after three tightly-scored sets earned them the bronze medal. “But we were only one game out from competing for gold.”
Livesay hopes to compete in the ultimate champion category at the 2012 Warrior Games. He was originally scouted for the ultimate champion events this year, but an imbalance of involvement elsewhere caused special operations to drop out.
“The Warrior Games are first class all the way,” he said. “They spare no expenses – the best coaches and best gear, the clothing to compete in and the equipment to compete with. As Soldiers, we don’t always get the red carpet rolled out, but here we’re getting the best.”