COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker in the crowd, the archery competition lived up to its billing at the 2013 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte.
Army rose to the occasion, capturing six out of the 12 medals in the archery events (two gold, one silver and three bronze) to outlast reigning champion Marine Corps. This year, the Marines took home four medals (one gold, two silver and one bronze). SOCOM also claimed a gold medal, and Air Force seized a bronze.
Frank Barroqueiro with his winning targets
The individual compound event could not have scripted better, with top-seed Army Capt. Frank Barroqueiro (Gainesville, Ga.) and Marine veteran Staff Sgt. Matthew Benack (Jacksonville, N.C.) battling in the first shoot-off in Warrior Games history.
Tied at 110, Benack shot an impressive nine, but was upstaged by Barroquerio’s bull’s-eye to score a perfect 10 and win the gold.
“Once I saw it hit the ‘X,’ I knew I had it,” Barroqueiro said.
Benack, who pulled the upset as the No. 7 seed, added, “It was a solid goal, obviously gold would have been nice, but it comes down to a shoot-off. That’s the way it should be in competition. The best of the best out there giving it their all.”
Staff Sgt. Jessie White (Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.) garnered Army its second medal of the day upon defeating veteran Air Force Tech. Sgt. Corey Carter (Columbus, Ohio), 107-106, for a bronze finish.
Army was on target yet again in the individual recurve event with a one-two finish to take the top spots on the podium. Surging back from a one-point deficit heading into the final round, first-time participant Army Sgt. Edward Patton (Lula, Ga.) demonstrated his talent against Army Staff Sgt. Curtis Winston (Wahiawa, Hawaii) to earn the win.
After struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, an exuberant Patton elaborated on his journey to gold, “I can’t believe it. I’m still so excited. It just proved to me that I’m still a soldier – I can still fight and I can still win. I thought my injuries had stopped me. It’s not true. You can rebound, you can come back. It feels great representing Army and winning gold.”
Patton's win snaps the Marine’s three year gold-medal streak in the recurve event.
An equally proud 2010 silver medalist Winston reflected on what may be his last year, “This year meant a little more, because it may be my last year to come back, so I was giving it everything I had.”
He praised Patton’s 104-103 performance by noting, “I couldn’t have shot against a better soldier. It was close, he beat me, that’s just how it goes on any given day. I’m proud of myself and Edward.”
The compound team competition featured another thrilling finish as the determined Marines edged out hometown favorites Air Force, 158-157, to capture gold. Claiming the final spot on the podium, Army handily defeated the British Armed Forces, 166-123.
Top-seed Special Operations out-dueled the Marines, 137-132, in the recurve team event for gold. Meanwhile, Army continued to flex its muscles with a convincing win over Air Force to secure bronze.
With an exhilarating day four of Warrior Games in the books, 2013 silver medalist Benack exemplified the essence of the Warrior Games. In the face of his shoot-off defeat, Benack congratulated and shook Barroqueiro’s hand. Brothers in arms, he repeated, "All one force. All one force."