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January 19, 2012 8:57 am

Powell soldier aims for Warrior Games marksmanship team slot

Written by Don Amend

A Powell native was one of 30 soldiers demonstrating their marksmanship skills last weekend in preparation for the 2012 Warrior Games this spring.

Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bessler, a 1991 graduate of Powell High School, demonstrated his skills at the University of Texas-El Paso, hoping to earn a spot on the Army shooting team for the games, an Olympic-style event for members of the military who are wounded, injured or ill.

The games, which feature competition among teams representing the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Special Operations, “serve as an introduction to paralympic sports for injured service members by inspiring recovery, physical fitness and promoting new opportunities for growth and achievement,” according to a news release from the Army.

More than 200 members of the military are expected to compete in the games.

Bessler, who currently is assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Carson, Colo., said he hasn’t officially been named to the Army team yet, “but it looks good.”

Bessler is a 20-year veteran of the Army and has been deployed nine times, spending time in Somalia, Haiti and Panama as well as in Iraq. He has been deployed six times in Iraq, where he suffered a traumatic brain injury from an improvised explosive device. As a 20-year veteran, he is eligible to retire, and is “in the middle of the process” of leaving the service.

“I’m coming to the point of where I’m reaching my term of 20 years and going forward with my life,” Bessler said. “It’s like I’m going from one extreme to another.”

His current assignment is part of the Army’s effort to help him make that transition.

“I’m still under military medical evaluation,” Bessler said. “They’re trying to see what they can do for me and how they can help me transition to civilian life.”

Bessler, who wrestled for PHS as a teenager,  said that, while he hopes to make the shooting team, he has participated in several of the other sports in the Warrior Games, including archery, cycling, swimming, and the shot put and discus, to maintain his fitness.

“You have to keep in shape in the military,” he said.

As he prepares to leave the military, Bessler expressed appreciation for the support the Powell community has provided for those deployed to the war zone.

“Over the years I’ve been deployed, the support from the community has been great,” Bessler said. “They’ve always taken care of us, and I think that’s phenomenal.”

The Warrior Games take place in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 30 through May 5, hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USO, the Fisher House Foundation and the Bob Woodruff Foundation also support the event.

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