Racing for recovery
By Cpl. Isis M. Ramirez
| | August 22, 2012
Marines from Wounded Warrior Battalion West – Hawaii Detachment competed in Duke’s Ocean Fest Na Koa 2012 Canoe Race in the waters off the Hale Koa Hotel here Aug. 18.
The race was a competition for bragging rights among service members throughout Oahu who are recovering from injury before returning back to full duty or transitioning out of the military. All branches of the military were represented by the 26 teams competing in the races.
Clear skies provided the perfect setting for the recovering service members to enjoy time with their unit and build camaraderie.
“We are having a great family day today as a unit … (the Marines) are happy to be competing in the regatta,” said Lt. Col. Burl Hudson, officer-in-charge of the Hawaii Detachment. “It is important that we maintain our great enthusiasm.”
Just before one of the Marine teams boarded their canoe for the first round in the competition, they made sure everyone knew not to burn themselves out at the start of the race. As a typical Marine would, one said “100 percent out, 120 on the way in.”
If their spirits weren’t already high enough, winning their first heat further boosted the Marines’ morale.
Competition grew more intense throughout the day as participants fought to qualify for the final rounds.
Exhausted but excited, both Marine teams in the race made it to the semifinals. However, it was the Hawaii Air National Guard team that finished first place in the overall competition.
After the regatta, there was a final race for recovering service members only, in which the Marines finished second.
Although the Marines didn’t take home any medals or paddle trophies, they were very pleased with the support they received at the race.
Hawaii’s Chamber of Commerce, along with numerous local and national organizations, sponsored the regatta in appreciation of the service members and their families’ faithful service and sacrifice.
“The people here supporting us, we really appreciate it,” said Sgt. Rafael Cervantes Jr., a recovering Marine from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. “It pushes us to keep doing what we do.”