Anthony McDaniel, a life member of American Legion Post 1992 in Gautier, Miss., won two bronze medals for Team USA in track and field at the Invictus Games in Toronto. McDaniel is one of about 90 Americans competing in the worldwide competition of wounded warriors from 17 different nations. Overall, about 550 competitors — both veterans and servicemembers — are involved with 12 different sports.
The Marine veteran lost both legs and his left hand by an IED in Afghanistan in 2010. That same year, Post 1992 presented him with a $1,500 check to aid in his recovery, and then the post helped host his welcome home celebration in 2014.
"We take care of all our veterans, but when you have a special veteran like (McDaniel) you have to go above and beyond the call of duty," said William "Bill" Whatley, who was Post 1992 commander in 2014. "It was an honor for us as The American Legion to host the welcome home day. We stand by our veterans."
Whatley said the whole community of Gautier joined in the celebration for McDaniel where a local businessman worked with the post to donate a specially fitted golf cart for McDaniel and the post members purchased a trailer for him to haul it in.
"We wanted to do something really special for this young man. That's what we did and that's what we do for all our veterans," Whatley said. "His spirits are always high. It was just a privilege to honor that young man."
David Pugh, commander of Post 1992, agreed with Whatley about McDaniel's attitude. "When you have a kid like that, that gave so much for his country and yet he still came home with a good attitude," Pugh said. "Wherever life takes him, he is a member of The American Legion always."
Other wounded veterans and servicemembers have also won medals for Team USA, including Sarah Rudder who has had quite the start to the Invictus Games.
Rudder has won four gold medals for Team USA in women’s rowing, discus, 100-meter racing and 200-meter racing.
The American men swept the top three spots in the shotput with Michael Sousa DoCarmo winning gold, Vince Cavazos taking silver and Jason Caswell earning the bronze. The men also took the top two spots in discus with Dorian Gardner beating out Sean Johnson for gold.
Other gold medal winners include Tiana Lopez in women’s powerlifting, women’s hand cycling and women’s rowing; Kelly Emlinger, two in women’s road cycling and women’s 400-meter running; Lara Mastel, women’s recumbent bike; Anthony Pone, men’s shot put; Ivan Sears, men’s 100-meter racing and 400-meter racing; Nate Dewalt, 100-meter racing; and Nate Bias, men’s shot put.
Americans are also bringing home silver and bronze, including Christy Wise who has won three bronze medals in athletics (track and field events) and one in cycling. The American team won bronze for sitting volleyball.
The games began Sept. 23 with an opening ceremony and conclude on Sunday with the wheelchair basketball finals, which McDaniel will participate in, and closing ceremonies. After attending the Wounded Warrior Games in 2013 in Colorado, Prince Harry was inspired to create an international event, which led to the Invictus Games.