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Wounded Warrior Creed Born Out of Suffering


By David Vergun
Army News Service

In 2005, former Marine and now-retired Army Sgt. Joseph “Joey” C. Smith lay in a Veterans Affairs hospital, wracked with pain. He watched other wounded veterans around him suffering, many despondent and without hope.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Joseph “Joey” C. Smith, a member of the Marine Corps team, is competing in the shooting and swimming events during the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. U.S. Army photo by David Vergun

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Smith said that at that time, he was at the lowest point in his life.

A year earlier, he had been at a remote forward operating base in Afghanistan on his fourth deployment when he was injured. He was working alongside Afghan soldiers around some storage containers. He said two of them climbed onto the roof of one of the containers and intentionally pushed another container on top of him.

For the next four years, he transferred among multiple hospitals where he underwent three surgeries on his spinal cord, as well as one on his leg. Doctors told him he was lucky to be alive.

He also lost the use of his voice for those four years, but using pen and paper, he wrote just a few words that he said helped to inspire other wounded warriors in that hospital as well as himself.


The Marine Corps later adopted what he wrote as their own “Creed of the Wounded Warrior,” and the words quickly spread, inspiring countless others.

“Though I am wounded, I will always be a warrior. I will never give up, nor quit in the face of adversity. I will do my best in all that I do and achieve. I will not allow my injuries to limit me, and most of all, I will never forget my fallen comrades or leave a fellow injured warrior behind,” reads the creed.

That such a simple message as this inspired so many is amazing, he said.

Following his hospitalization, Smith followed his creed to “do my best in all that I do and achieve” by entering the 2010 Wounded Warrior games, the first year of that competition. That year he competed in shooting, swimming, cycling and archery. At the games, the athletes are all wounded, ill or injured veterans and service members.

Smith has returned to the games every year since and this week he’s competing in the shooting and swimming events at the Olympic Training Center and U.S. Air Force Academy here.

He said the intense interservice and interpersonal rivalries really motivate the athletes, but “at the end of the day, it’s one team, one fight,” meaning that they are all friends who are helping each other through the healing process.

Things have been looking up for Smith, who said he plans to return to the games in the future.

In 2010, he and his wife, Debbi, received a special gift. Homes for Our Heroes, a nonprofit organization, donated a wheelchair-accessible home for them in Thomasville, N.C. He said words can’t describe how much that meant to them.

During the competitions this week, some 400 members of the media from around the world are covering the games, outnumbering the athletes nearly 2 to 1.

Smith said he thinks that is “awesome” and that he hopes the media will get the word out to the world about what it means to be a wounded warrior and how they are all trying hard to rebuild their lives, assisting one another, despite the suffering they have endured.

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About Edited by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer.  In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials.  Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat.  Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republican and The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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