Honoring Olympians and Paralympians who served

Many Olympians and Paralympians who have served in the military say there are strong similarities between the discipline required in the armed forces and the dedication and drive with which they attacked their athletic training. The following is a collection of stories about veterans who competed at the Games.

Charley Paddock

After serving in the U.S. Army in World War I, Charley Paddock participated in three Olympic Games, winning two gold medals and two silver. He died in a plane crash while serving in World War II.

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David Robinson

David Robinson did not stand out on the basketball court until starring at the Naval Academy. He played in three Olympic Games, winning two gold medals and one bronze.

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Eddie Eagan

Twelve years after winning a boxing gold medal, bobsledding rookie Eddie Eagan added another gold medal in his first and only bobsled race.

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Harrison Dillard

Harrison “Bones” Dillard is the only man to win Olympic gold medals in the 100-meter dash and the 110-meter hurdles. In between the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games, he served in the U.S. Army.

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Jack Kelly Sr.

Snubbed by the elite Diamond Sculls, Jack Kelly Sr. entered the Antwerp 1920 Olympic Games just to gain a measure of revenge. He did just that, claiming gold medals in the single and double scull.

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John Davis

One of the most dominant athletes of his generation, John Davis compiled a 15-year winning streak that included gold medals at the London 1948 Olympic Games and the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games.

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Lones Wigger poses for a photo

Lones Wigger Jr.

Labeled the “greatest shooter in history,” Lones Wigger Jr. won two gold medals and one silver over the course of three Olympic Games before becoming a director at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

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Mal Whitfield

Mal Whitfield won gold in the 800-meter run and the 4x-400-meter relay at the London 1948 Olympic Games, becoming the first American active-duty service member to win an Olympic gold medal.

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Micki King

Micki King hit her arm on the board on her ninth dive of the 3-meter springboard at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games and finished fourth. She won gold at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games.

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Sammy Lee

Diver Sammy Lee overcame racial prejudice while growing up to become the first Asian-American man to win an Olympic gold medal.

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Tommy Kono

It was at an internment camp in the desert during World War II that Tommy Kono’s asthma dissipated and he was introduced to weightlifting, eventually winning two Olympic gold medals and one silver.

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Willie Davenport

Willie Davenport ran the 100-meter hurdles in four Summer Games and won one gold medal. At the Lake Placid 1980 Olympic Winter Games, he was part of the U.S. four-man bobsled team.

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