At first sight, Cpl. Beau Parra doesn’t appear wounded. But some wounds are more than skin deep. After three deployments to Iraq as a machine gunner, Parra has overcome numerous injuries and odds – from seizing Baghdad and returning with “unknown” respiratory issues to suffering roughly 70 improvised explosive device attacks.
Despite the difficulties he’s faced, Para still holds a childhood passion close to his heart, a passion that helped his recovery and enabled his command to recognize his skill as an archer.
Beau Parra is one of two Hawaii Marines currently competing in the first Wounded Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. The event includes approximately 50 Wounded Warrior Marines competing against each other and the other services.
Parra is scheduled to compete in the archery event, a sport he says is a true test of character, patience and skill. Archery has been a passion of his since he was 7-years-old, hunting in his rural hometown of Prescott, Ariz.
“When I heard about competitive archery, I knew Parra would be all over it,” said Staff Sgt. Karlo Salgado, volunteer services officer, Wounded Warrior Battalion, Detachment West. “From a medical standpoint to recovery – it’s another milestone for him.”
Shooting is more than an adrenaline rush, Para said. It’s his tranquility.
“The biggest thing that attracts me is the sportsmanship,” Parra explained. “You can shoot a deer 600-700 yards with a rifle. But you have to get real close with a bow, less than 100 yards. Wait for that perfect shot. It’s more challenging.”
Parra, who is also competing in the air pistol event, said he looks forward to the upcoming weeks. Though the competition runs May 10 – 15, he’s leaving a few weeks early to familiarize himself with the bow he’ll be shooting with and the course of fire.
Parra still receives regular traumatic brain injury treatment and therapy for combat related stress.
“The Wounded Warrior Games shows everyone, including myself, that even after all that [misfortune] I can still go out there competitively and perform,” he said.
Parra’s goal when he came to Hawaii nearly four years ago was to shoot competitively for the Marine Corps, a goal he couldn’t achieve because of his injuries and ongoing treatment. Despite being physically ineligible to be part of a Marine Corps team, and due to his treatments, Parra received orders to Wounded Warrior Battalion West roughly a year ago.
Salgado said Parra is very competitive and beyond capable.
“The competition is a great thing,” Para said. “But I see it as part of a big recovery process. I’ve got four kids and a wife that count on me. I learned if you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of them.”
The 28-year-old has participated and placed in numerous recreational open competitions, taking seventh place at Pacific Division Matches last year.