CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (2/18/2012) - Sgt. Maj. Raymond Mackey,
Sierra Vista, Ariz., has been in the Marine Corps for 29 years but
will be the first to tell you he can still hang with even the
youngest Marines on the basketball court.
Feb. 18, 2012 - Sgt. Maj. Raymond Mackey, Sierra Vista, Ariz., lost both of his legs in an improvised explosive device blast in 2009. Now Mackey is stepping up to inspire and mentor other wounded Marines at the 2012 Marine Corps Trials and wherever else life may take them.
Photo by USMC Photo by Sgt. Mark Fayloga
As he quickly maneuvers his wheelchair by other players to get
open for a pass, puts up shots in the key and shouts directions to
others on his team, it is easy to see that Mackey is a natural-born
leader – as an athlete, a Marine and a Wounded Warrior.
For the past two years, Mackey has mentored and inspired other
injured Marines he met while at Walter Reed National Military
Medical Center in Maryland. It is these Marines who are now playing
and competing alongside Mackey because of his gentle prodding and
With every step he takes on his prosthetic legs and every push of
the wheels on his wheelchair, Mackey is showing them what it means
to be a Wounded Warrior.
While deployed to Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine
Regiment, in 2009 Mackey's unit came under fire while on patrol.
While returning fire and moving for cover through a ditch, the
Marine directly in front of Mackey stepped on the trigger mechanism
of an improvised explosive device, causing it to detonate. The IED
funneled in the ditch, spreading out instead of up, and hit Mackey
harder than the Marines around him.
Most of the Marines suffered class four concussions and shrapnel
wounds. Mackey lost both of his legs. But this setback did not
change Mackey's desire to lead and mentor Marines. This same desire
prompted Mackey to compete with more than 300 other wounded Marines,
veterans and allies in the 2012 Marine Corps Trials.
Following wheelchair basketball practice, Mackey took a few minutes
to talk about his recovery and his passion for Marines.
you think the term 'Wounded Warrior' is a good way to describe you
and other wounded Marines?
A: All of us have been wounded in
one way or another — some of them are silent, some of them are not.
Some of them are obvious like myself and a couple of the others who
have amputations and then you have the guys with post traumatic
stress disorder and the traumatic brain injury; they're wounded as
Q: What motivated you to come and participate in the
2012 Marine Corps Trials?
A: I was at Bethesda when a lot of
these Marines came in. I'm the one who kind of talked them into
going. So, if I didn't show up, I'd be just another person telling
them to do something I wasn't doing myself. I came out here just for
Q: Do you think you are able to compete with younger
Marines on the court?
A: Hopefully one day, one of these
younger guys are inspired to say, ‘I want to be like the sergeant
major was on the basketball court. I want to be able to turn my
wheelchair in the air and go back the other way.' That's the impact
I want to have.
Q: What do you hope is the outcome of the
2012 Marine Corps Trials?
A: My hope is that the East Coast
will take home the Commander's Cup. I want bragging rights. And I'm
hoping that whomever gets selected to go to the Warrior Games will
bring home the cup again.
Q: What are your plans for the
A: You never quit being a Marine. I'm hoping to
somehow still help Marines. I'm just not one who can sit still, so
I'm going to try to get a job on base at Camp Lejeune where I can
help Marines. It doesn't matter what I'm doing because Marines are
Marines. Sometimes they need help and sometimes they need guidance.
Somehow, I'll help Marines down there, whether it's inspiring them
or helping them buy cars and simple things like that.
would you like to pass on to younger wounded Marines?
want to inspire them. You can motivate anybody, but to inspire
somebody is completely different. You can motivate these guys to
come out here and play this game, but if you inspire them, it's
going to last a lifetime.
By USMC Lance Cpl. Chelsea Flowers
Defense Media Activity - Marines
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