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Wounded Warriors inspiring others by taking the field

By Justin Fujioka
Published On: Oct 01 2012 01:49:41 PM HST
Updated On: Oct 01 2012 07:51:22 PM HST

Some of our country's most-determined soldiers and veterans are now inspiring others.

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -

The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team practiced at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Monday.

They practice like any other softball team, but each of this team's members have lost a limb or two, and they lost them serving our country.

"I knew the guys coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, a lot of them are former athletes and would like to get back into a competitive sport and be on a team again," said veteran David Van Sleet, who launched the team last year to inspire other by traveling across the nation, playing only able-bodies opponents.

He says it's not about winning explaining, "Because we've already won.  These guys are back into a normal lifestyle."

There are 14 on the team from all over the country.  They travel three weekends a month to practice and play games.  They're booked until 2014.  The team relies on sponsors and donations.

23-year-old Matias Ferreira is the team's catcher.  He was wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan just last year.

"I had a broken pelvis, shattered femur, and of course, missing both my legs below the knees," Ferreira said.  "I knew that I wasn't going to be a machine gun in the Marine Corps. I was going to miss the camaraderie, my boys, being able to be deployed and be a part of something that's bigger than you."

But he found it again on a different kind of battlefield.

Ferreira added, "To our veterans, I know that they're getting ready for combat and those are the things that go through your mind before you get deployed.  What happens if I get injured, if I killed or something?  Just think about the present and let the future take care of itself."

The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team will be back in Hawaii on Jan. 5 through Jan. 12 to play five games and it will be open to the public.

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