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Coalition leader connects with Invictus Games athlete

By Marine Sgt. Jordan Belser, U.S. Central Command

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May 20, 2016 — TAMPA, Fla. (May 16, 2016) – Servicemen and women share a common bond and the unshakable belief that they have done something few decide to do. This bond transcends a particular branch of service or even a particular nation.

Maj. Gen. Neil Marshall, Senior British Military Advisor (SBMA), U.S. Central Command was reminded of this bond when he met U.S. Army Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Timothy Payne.

Payne, a former infantryman, was on patrol in the Zhary District of Kandahar, Afghanistan in the summer of 2011 when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated underneath him. The explosion resulted in the loss of Payne’s legs.

Today, Payne is an accomplished athlete and was able to compete and take a gold medal in this year’s Invictus Games held in Orlando, FL. The games, created by Prince Harry of Wales and held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, allowed wounded service members from 15 nations to compete in sporting events from 11 different categories.

At the conclusion of the games, Marshall presented Payne with a medal and made an instant connection.

“He offered the Airborne Combat Patch he wore on that defining day 5 years ago to me for safe keeping,” Marshall said. “I promised to do exactly that.”

Marshall said he gave Payne and his mother each a CENTCOM SBMA coin and offered to return the combat patch safely should he ever want it back.

“We had only known each other for a few minutes,” Marshall said. “And now we have a life-long bond.”

Next year’s Invictus Games will be held in Toronto. For more information about the games, please visit: invictusgamesfoundation.org.