Written by Patty Babb, Team Navy outreach coordinator
Petty Officer 1st Class Jamie Byrd, a maritime law enforcement specialist, retired Petty Officer 3rd Class Kristen Esget, a yeoman, and retired Lt. Sancho Johnson are competing alongside Sailors on Team Navy. During the opening ceremony, they proudly waived Coast Guard flags and stood at attention while Semper Paratus played before a crowd of more than 1,000 attendees.
Byrd – who currently is stationed at the Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team in San Diego– is serving as Team Navy captain. He is the first Coast Guardsman to lead the team, and he will provide guidance and encouragement to his shipmates.
“I’m completely humbled and honored to be named team captain,” said Byrd. “This team includes so many great servicemen and women who have been through so many things.”
“I’m really excited to be at the Warrior Games, and, the other day, when we had a chance to meet the other teams, was a lot of fun,” he added. “I’m looking forward to the competition, which I think will be friendly at first, but it will eventually get pretty fierce.”
In August 2013, during a defensive tactics training scenario, a participant attempted to tackle Byrd. While they were wrestling, Byrd collided headfirst with a wall, and he sustained a C1 (spinal) burst fracture, a fracture to the base of his skull, separation of his vertebral artery and a subsequent stroke.
During his recovery, he was introduced to adaptive sports, which has had a very positive influence on him. He will take part in archery and shooting events at his first Warrior Games.
“The adaptive sports program has been great for me,” Byrd said. “It has allowed me to meet some wonderful people who have been through some of the same experiences that I have.”
Byrd is enrolled in Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor, a program for seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guard men and women. He notes that the program is not only for combat-wounded service members, and he encourages more Coast Guard members to reach out for help when they experience an unexpected health crisis.
“When I could no longer perform my job, I felt like I was no longer part of a team. The adaptive sports program has shown me that I can still enjoy and compete in some of my favorite pastimes.”
Learn more about Navy Wounded Warrior by visiting their website or by calling 855-NAVY WWP.