Army Reservist Wins Medal, Respect In Rio Olympics


By Debbie Gregory.

Although the United States Army Marksmanship Unit didn’t medal at the Rio Olympic games, Army Reserve 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks won Olympic bronze, following what he called “the most enjoyable pole vault competition of his life” on Monday, August 15th.

But perhaps more notable than the medal win is the fact that Kendricks stopped, mid-run on a jump during his qualifying round, when he overheard our national anthem being played. Kendricks dropped his pole and stood at attention.

Kendricks said that his Olympic experience has taught him that your life is changed along the way to winning a medal. But it speaks volumes that young member displayed outstanding character that outpaced any medal he could have won.

“With all the journeys and sacrifices that you make and all the training that you do, and the people you leave at home to watch, that is really the value of the medal,” he said.

“I’m glad I have something tangible to bring home … I know that everybody in Oxford, my hometown, will love to see it. But the journey, like my coach says, is the goal, not necessarily the medal.”

His future journey will include time serving as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserve.

U.S. Army specialist Paul Chelimo, who was born in Kenya, won an Olympic silver medal in the men’s 5000 meters. And his medal also comes with a story.

Minutes after the race was completed, a number of runners, including Chelimo, were disqualified for stepping off the track.

“It was really tactical and they (the Ethiopians) kept pushing me because they were working as a team. It’s never easy to run a race and run against a team. … But the Army has taught me to be mentally and physically tough,” Chelimo said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Professional Athletes Hope to Fulfill Military Service, and Vice-Versa


By Debbie Gregory.

On July 5, 2016, Brayan Pena of the St. Louis Cardinals announced that he was planning to join the Army Reserve after the 2016 season. Later that day though, he was informed that he was unable to enlist because such an action would violate the terms of his contract.

But not one to accept defeat, Peña has instead chosen to become an ambassador for the troops, where he will be visiting the troops overseas and conducting baseball clinics.

The Cuban native, who defected in 1999, has been a U.S. citizen for six years.

“It’s time for me to give something back to this great country. It’s not something where I just woke up and did it. I’ve given it some thought and some research. I’m very excited. It’s an honor for me.”

Pena said leaving Cuba for the United States dramatically changed his life, and he began considering the Reserve several years ago when he talked about it with former Cincinnati Reds teammate Jay Bruce.

In other military/sports related news, 24-year-old Christian Hill, who spent five years on active duty in the Air Force, is utilizing an early separation program from the military for an opportunity to go to school and play college football this fall for the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Additionally, U.S. Army reservist and pole vaulter Sam Kendricks is on his way to Rio! The 23-year-old second lieutenant set a new U.S. Track and Field Trials record on the 4th of July with his 19 feet, 4 3/4 inches (5.91 meters) jump.

Kendricks won’t be the only representative for the Armed Forces making his way to Rio to compete in the summer Olympics. U.S. Air Force Academy star Cale Simmons finished in second place, good enough to make the team as well.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.