Warrior Games profile: Parachute jump was staff sergeant's warmup routine


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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The day before arriving at the Olympic Training Center for the Warrior Games, Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Pollock jumped out of an airplane.

Considering he's usually in a wheelchair, the landing was a little tricky.

"I jumped tandem, so I had my legs up and I leaned back and landed on him," he said, laughing.

Pollock has a laundry list of metal that is holding him together: bolts screwed into his pelvis, rods as femurs and pins in his knees. Then there's the tibia he's missing in his right leg.

"Basically nothing below the knees works," he said.

Pollock was thrown 97 feet off his motorcycle on his way to work as an aircraft mechanic in August 2008 after an 87-year-old woman ran a red light and slammed into him. Pollock didn't wake up for three weeks, and the farthest he's walked in one stretch since then is 800 yards.

He's been recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, so he knows a lot of the soldiers here at the Games better than his Air Force teammates. He's picked up Army habits, like calling a base a "post."

The other airmen lightheartedly give him a hard time for always hanging out with Army here.

"I tell them, I've known them for almost two years. I just met you two weeks ago," he said.

The former body builder is competing in four sports at the Games: wheelchair basketball, archery, shot put and discus.

The Air Force, which has the smallest team at 17, took a beating from the Marines in their first basketball game, which they lost 68-13.

"Oh, that was brutal," Pollock said.

But the Air Force ended their wheelchair basketball experience on a good note: Wednesday night they took bronze.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Pollock watches the action.