Meet the 21 Service Members and Veterans Representing the US in the Paralympics

August 25, 2021Hannah Ray Lambert

Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Marks, a swimmer, is competing in four events at the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. The two-time Paralympic medalist is a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program. US Army photo by Maj. Nathaniel Garcia.

The delayed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are underway, and nearly two dozen veterans and active-duty service members are among the athletes representing the United States.

Team USA wore masks and waved to a mostly empty stadium during the opening ceremony Tuesday, Aug. 24, a reminder of the strict pandemic countermeasures still in place. The 240-athlete team includes 18 veterans and three active-duty soldiers.

Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Marks, a swimmer, is competing in four events at the 2020 Summer Paralympic Games. Marks is a two-time Paralympic medalist and a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program.

Staff Sgt. John Wayne Joss III will shoot the 50-meter rifle prone. A combat injury in 2007 resulted in the amputation of Joss’ lower right leg, but he discovered the Army shooting team in 2011 and has gone on to compete in four World Cups.

Para-shooter Staff Sgt. Kevin Nguyen will make his Paralympic debut in mixed 10-meter air rifle prone and mixed 50-meter rifle prone. US Army photo by Maj. Michelle Lunato.

Also competing in the 50-meter rifle prone, as well as the 10-meter air rifle prone, is Staff Sgt. Kevin Nguyen. This is Nguyen’s Paralympic debut after losing part of his leg to an improvised explosive device blast in Afghanistan. 

Of the veterans, four athletes served in the Navy, 11 served in the Army, one served in the Air Force, and two served in the Marine Corps.

Navy veteran Will Groulx is a five-time Paralympian, appearing in every Summer Games since 2004. Groulx originally competed in wheelchair rugby after a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the chest down, but he switched to road cycling in the 2016 Rio Games and took home two medals.

Navy veteran Will Groulx rolls into position to defend against the Great Britain team during a rugby match at the Paralympic Games in London Sept. 5, 2012. US Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Sean M. Worrell.

Navy vet Andre Shelby and Army veteran Lia Coryell are among the Team USA archers gearing up for the ranking rounds later this week. This is the second Paralympic appearance for both archers.

See the full list of veterans below.

  • Lia Coryell, Army – archery

  • Andre Shelby, Navy – archery

  • Tom Davis, Army – cycling

  • Freddie De Los Santos, Army – cycling

  • Will Groulx, Navy – cycling

  • Shawn Morelli, Army – cycling

  • Eric Ryan Pinney, Air Force – cycling

  • Monica Sereda, Army – cycling

  • Kelly Elmlinger, Army – paratriathlon

  • Eric McElvenny, Marine Corps – paratriathlon

  • Bradley Snyder, Navy – paratriathlon

  • Melissa Stockwell, Army – paratriathlon

  • Russell Gernaat, Navy – rowing

  • Michael Gallardo, Army – track and field

  • Luis Puertas, Army – track and field

  • Scot Severn, Army – track and field

  • Terry Hayes, Army – wheelchair fencing

  • Raymond Hennagir, Marine Corps – wheelchair rugby

Read Next: 6 Veterans Who Are Killing It on the Archery Range

Hannah Ray Lambert
Hannah Ray Lambert

Hannah Ray Lambert is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die who previously covered everything from murder trials to high school trap shooting teams. She spent several months getting tear gassed during the 2020-2021 civil unrest in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not working, Hannah enjoys hiking, reading, and talking about authors and books on her podcast Between Lewis and Lovecraft.

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