By Shannon Collins, DoD News, Defense Media Activity
Retired Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Dodd poses with the air pistol that he used during competition at the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, June 15-21, 2016. (Department of Defense photo by E.J. Hersom/160615-D-DB155-026)
As medically retired Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Dodd competed at the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games in archery June 17 and in shooting the air pistol June 19, he said he’d dedicate his performance to the seven Navy Seabees who were killed in two attacks in Al Anbar province, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, in 2004.
“I want to honor the Seabees I served with and honor their memories during this event. If I medal, it will be on their behalf,” said Dodd, a former Seabee. Seabees serve in civil engineering roles such as paving roads and airstrips and providing infrastructure such as bridges and schools in the communities.
While serving in Iraq, Dodd trained Iraqis to be engineers.
Call to Service
Dodd said he joined the Navy because it was a family tradition. “Everybody in my family was in the military,” he said. “My grandmother worked for the USO for 30 years, so I grew up around the Navy personnel and spent a lot of my childhood at the USO.”
Dodd’s father served in the Navy in World War II and his uncles were in the Navy during the Vietnam era. He initially joined the Army in 1979, and served on active duty for 10 years before switching to the Navy in 1995. He had a few breaks in service but served for 20 years.
During a mortar attack in Iraq in 2004, Dodd injured his knees and back. He has collapsed vertebrae and herniated discs. He said adaptive sports have helped him with his recovery.
“They’ve changed my life,” he said. “I had isolated myself once I was medically retired. I was invited to try adaptive sports and at first, I didn’t understand what it was so I didn’t follow through with it but when I found out shooting was involved, I tried it, and it’s made a big difference. I’ve actually lost 20 pounds since I’ve started. I had gained 70 pounds from the time I was injured until the beginning of this year. This is my first year competing and now I’m becoming more active, and I’ve lost a lot of weight. It’s changed my whole outlook.”
Dodd shot competitively when he was in the Army and came in fourth place in the All Armed Forces Match out of 400 shooters. He said competing again helps him feel like an athlete again.
Representing the Seabees
He said he’s happy to be representing Team Navy.
“I’m ecstatic; all of my family is proud of it, especially my kids,” Dodd said. “I’m proud to be representing the Seabees and my shipmates who I served with.”
Dodd said for him, getting to participate in an event like the DoD Warrior Games was a life-saver.
“It’s a life-saver, not just for the participants but for the families and for other injured service members who are out there thinking there’s nothing else for them to do,” he said. “For me, I felt like the best part of my life had been spent, and I was done in my lifetime, that I wasn’t going to be able to have the achievements that I had had in my past.
Dodd added, “This has broadened my future. I feel like I have a future now.”