MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The basketball could be heard hitting the wooden floor and a “I’m open!” was shouted, then with a ‘whoosh’ the ball cleared the net and the Marines clapped each other on the back and wheeled their wheelchairs to cover the opposing team.
The Warrior Athlete Reconditioning Program with the Wounded Warrior Battalion – East, held their first wheelchair basketball game at the Geottge Memorial Field House aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, April 19.
“The WAR Program is an integral part of the overall rehabilitation process for our wounded warriors,” said Maj. Paul Greenburg, the executive officer for WWBn-East. “It addresses mind, body and spirit; the holistic individual.”
With it being a wheelchair basketball game, different rules were set; Marines could only wheel their wheelchair twice while in control of the ball before having to dribble it, if they were just coasting no dribble would be required.
The game pitted Marines who were in the WWBn-East who wore skivvy shirts versus the WWBn-East staff, which donned white jerseys.
At the last minute the wounded warriors received another player. Sgt. Maj. Raymond Mackey, who was with 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division prior to being blown up by an improvised explosive Device, and is now with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center basketball team had come down to visit his old unit and was invited to the game.
Straight from the start a warning was given to the crowd that the staff had not practiced much as opposed to the other team who had weeks to hone their skills.
The staff, which included the commanding officer, operations chief and Marines from the S-4 and S-3 all from WWB- East, put up a good fight, and shouts of encouragement could be heard from their team leader.
The wounded warriors, however, who had trained for the game, proved to be too much for the staff and after a while the staff team leader said, “change of plans, how about we just get it to our side of the court,” which incited laughter from the crowd that had gathered.
Even with the staff team putting up a good fight, they were no match for the wounded warriors, who won with a score of 34-14.
“From my professional basketball expertise I think the staff team got creamed,” said Ellyn Dunford, wife of the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, who was on-base for the Executive Offsite Conference, and decided to come watch the game and cheer the teams on. “This is just another good experience to see what is going on with the Marines.”
As the teams shook hands and congratulated each other, many were eager to compete again.
“The event was excellent,” said Lindsay James, the aquatics and wheelchair basketball director with the WAR Program. “We hope to play more in the summer and compete against teams like Bethesda and Walter Reed.”