Wounded Warriors

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Leah O’Brien-Amico (Susan Ray)

Susan Ray

The Wounded Warrior’s, friends of the Saddleback VET club, played their annual Amputee Softball game Mar. 9 at Mission Viejo’s Youth Action Park. The event commemorated veterans injured in the line of duty.

It was an all-day event raising money and awareness for the medical costs of military veterans, and promoted research and development of prostheses. The team travels the country year round playing games and speaking publicly for the cause. It’s made up of 14 players from 12 states around the country. These are veterans and active-duty soldiers whose injuries resulted in amputation while serving.

The first game was played by the Wounded Warriors against the OC Veterans and First Responders. For game two the Wounded Warriors played local celebrities including former Colts and USC football player Chris Galippo; former NFL players Chris Galippo and Mike Horan, and three-time Olympic softball gold medalist in Leah O’Brien-Amico.

Among the Wounded Warriors was Josh Wege, 23, a Marine Corps. medical retiree flown Wisconsin for Saturday the game. Josh is a double-leg amputee who was injured in an explosion in Afghanistan. He served from 2008 to 2011 and now travels year-round doing public speaking and playing at events. He now plans on attending Florida Golf Coast after having toured the campus and later “hope[s] to become police officer or join the SWAT team”.

Also at the game was the Mayor of Mission Viejo, Rhonda Reardon, who shared how honored and privileged the city was to have the Wounded Warriors call their home in Mission Viejo. While the traveling team did not feel welcome in other cities, last year the Wounded Warriors were  offered Mission Viejo as their office annual home for the event.

She told her grandchildren “you’re going to see some things that you never had. These are men and women who fought on our behalf. They have paid a very high price.”

Eileen Gamble, 23, business was among the crowd and happy to support the cause. Gamble, an active member of the VET club, though not a veteran herself, said “it was a good event”.

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