Story and photo by
Staff Sgt. James Waggoner
Warrior Transition Battalion Public Affairs
Tripler Army Medical Center
WAIKIKI — Members from the Warrior Transition Battalion, Tripler Army Medical Center, competed in the Wounded Warrior Canoe Regatta, sponsored by the 12th annual Duke’s Ocean Fest, Sunday.
The WTB entered seven canoe crews into the competition and paddled against fellow wounded warriors from the Coast Guard, the Hawaii Air National Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps.
Participants competed in one of four race categories — Wounded Warrior, Active Duty, Veteran or Youth. Also, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps units from Mililani , Punahou and Waianae high schools competed in the Youth category.
Despite their injuries and obstacles, WTB Soldiers were able to persevere and come together as a team to place first and second in the Wounded Warrior category, and second in the Active Duty category.
“Although they are healing and can’t do everything, this gives them the opportunity to still excel in something and be a part of something, be part of a team,” said Kimo Wheeler, a retired command sergeant major and the coordinator between the Ka Mamalahoe Canoe Club and the WTB.
In early 2013, Ka Mamalahoe Canoe Club and the WTB entered into a partnership to develop, institute and perpetuate a physically healthy and therapeutic alternative training program for Soldiers who were impacted by the rigors of years of training and deployments.
Ka Mamalahoe also educates and broadens the cultural horizons of the Soldiers by teaching them the ways and terminology of Hawaiian canoe paddling.
“Being out in the ocean and paddling, just being in the water, gives me the most peace out of everything; that’s what I enjoy the most,” said Staff Sgt. Frank Lessary, a Soldier in transition assigned to Company B, WTB.
“We paddle as one to achieve the same goal: to win. But win or lose, we love to be on the water,” said Lessary. “There’s a lot of motivation and dedication on our team.”