The closing ceremony was the official end of the Warrior Games but not for the inspiration it provided for the competitors or their loved ones.
"Closing means the end but this is about beginnings," Juanita Phillips, mother of Army athlete Michael Phillips, said Thursday night. "They have seen what they can do. This will inspire them to work hard back home and come back again next year."
"It's definitely motivational," said retired Army Sgt. Michael Grover of Detroit, a two-time medalist in swimming. "I think it aided my recovery because I was ready to work that much harder (after last year's event)."
It was easy to find inspiration. Just look two lanes over.
"I was so tired earlier, but this ceremony re-energizes you," retired Air Force Lt. Jennifer Kyseth said. "If you need inspiration, just look at the guy swimming with no legs and one arm and kicking (butt) in the pool."
The Marines won their fourth-straight Chairman's Cup by beating Army, 100-85, thanks to 34 gold medals.
"It is such a great feeling to win the Cup again and to do it against our great brothers and sisters in the service," Marine Sgt. Jorge Toledo said. "All of us here have been told at one point that we cannot do something anymore. This shows the nonbelievers that we cannot be stopped if we put our minds to it."
Air Force Capt. Mitchell Kieffer won the Ultimate Champion award, which is a modified pentathlon.
It was a bittersweet night at the Air Force Academy after the cheers died down and the goodbyes began.
"We are kind of sad that it is over because it was so good to see how happy it made everyone," said Bernardo Rodriguez who was there to support Special Operations athlete Edwin Quiros. "We all appreciate more what they do and it has been a great experience for the families."
Expect many of the 260 injured, wounded and ill servicemen and women who competed this week, including Marine Sgt. Clayton McDaniel, to be back next spring.
"That is what this is all about; experiencing this and working hard to get better and get back here for the next Warrior Games," he said. "The closing ceremony just closes the chapter, not the book."
Warrior Games Medal Table
Marines 93 100
Army 81 85
Navy/Coast Guard 23 37.18
Air Force 30 31
Special Operations 16 21.25
United Kingdom 21 na
Note: Values assigned to team and individual medals determine each service squad's point totals. The UK combined team cannot compete in Chairman's Cup competition.