THE PORTOBELLO LODGE NO.226

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A large part of getting into competitive swimming was to build strength for his primary event, wheelchair basketball. It took commitment to go forward with his life.

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By KEITH ROGERS

Buy PhotoCompetition helps troops adjust to life without limbsFans and competitors watch from the stands during the inaugural Air Force Trials at the Buchanan Natatorium on the campus of UNLV on Monday. These trials are to qualify for the 2014 Warrior Games to be held in Colorado this fall. (Justin Yurkanin/Las Vegas Review Journal)

"My family has been a huge inspiration," he said, mentioning his 8 year old daughter, Ashlee, and 10 year old son, Matthew.

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Buy PhotoCompetition helps troops adjust to life without limbsEvent officials talk with competitors at the beginning of the inaugural Air Force Trials at the Buchanan Natatorium on the campus of UNLV on Monday. These trials are to qualify for the 2014 Warrior Games to be held in Colorado this fall.(Justin Yurkanin/Las Vegas Review Journal)

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´╗┐Competition helps troops adjust to life without limbs

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Hendrix lost his leg in a parachuting accident in 2012. These trials are to qualify for the 2014 Warrior Games to be held in Colorado this fall. (Justin Yurkanin/Las Vegas Review Journal)

For Johnson, the trip to Las Vegas from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas was a chance to meet with his Army buddy, Master Sgt. Dan Hendrix. They have a lot in common. They both lost a leg after their overseas deployments, and they went through rehabilitation together last year at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

So he did. And it worked even though he said it was scary, and he was nervous.

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Buy PhotoCompetition helps troops adjust to life without limbsAthletes exit the locker rooms before the start of the inaugural Air Force Trials at the Buchanan Natatorium on the campus of UNLV on Monday. These trials are to qualify for the 2014 Warrior Games to be held in Colorado this fall. (Justin Yurkanin/Las Vegas Review Journal)

"I made a mental error. I came in pretty hot and ended up losing my leg after a year," he said.

"I'm trying to do what I can to prove that I'm not handicapped. I'm just missing a leg," he said.

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"First you have to realize it's time," Hendrix said. "It has got to come from within. Nobody else can make you do it. You can have all the encouragement in the world, and there are so many people who want to help you get back. But there is an inner trigger that Nike Vapormax Gray has to be clicked before your rehab begins.

Buy PhotoCompetition helps troops adjust to life without limbsAir Force Staff Sergeant Mark Johnson, left, and Tony Anderson, center, stand during the national anthem before the start of the inaugural Air Force Trials at the Buchanan Natatorium on the campus of UNLV on Monday. These trials were to qualify for the 2014 Warrior Games to be held in Colorado this fall. (Justin Yurkanin/Las Vegas Review Journal)

Buy PhotoCompetition helps troops adjust to life without limbsArmy Master Sergeant Dan Hendrix of Colorado Springs, Colo., prepares to enter the pool before his 50 meter race during the inaugural Air Force Trials at the Buchanan Natatorium on the campus of UNLV on Monday. Hendrix lost his leg in a parachuting accident in 2012. He rests his prosthetic limb next to the pool while taking warm up laps. These trials are to qualify for the 2014 Warrior Games to be held in Colorado this fall. (Justin Yurkanin/Las Vegas Review Journal)

After the opening ceremony at Nellis Air Force Base, trials for amputee Mark Johnson and some of the 130 military members to make the team for the 2014 Warrior Games in Colorado got off with a splash Monday at the UNLV pool.

Yurkanin/Las Vegas Review Journal)

Because he was vulnerable to infections, his leg was amputated just below his knee a year ago. He had learned to sky dive with the Army's Golden Knights parachute team. Ever since he's had to focus on bouncing back in his career that began as an air defense weapons system crew member.

"Once that happens, it's every bit as intense as you had in life to go full bore and then some because you've got to have motivation to get back from where you're starting from. You have to hit that switch internally."

Buy PhotoCompetition helps troops adjust to life without limbsArmy Master Sergeant Dan Hendrix, of Colorado Springs, Colo., is competing at the inaugural Air Force Trials at the Buchanan Natatorium on the campus of UNLV on Monday. Hendrix lost his leg in a parachuting accident in 2012. These trials are to qualify for the 2014 Warrior Games to be held in Colorado this fall. (Justin Adidas Jacket White And Gold

first time since he lost his right leg at the knee from a motorcycle accident a year ago in Oklahoma, Johnson gathered his balance to stand with his left leg on the starting block. He dived into the pool on his way to a medal winning finish in the 50 meter freestyle.

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Hendrix injured his left leg in a sky diving accident in northern Illinois in 2012. In 21 years in the Army, he's been all over the world during five deployments, including his last one to Iraq. He was injured on his 812th jump.

"I never practiced it before. I usually just push in from the wall. But they said, 'Give it a try,'" the Air Force staff sergeant said during a break before his next event, the 100 meter freestyle.

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Buy PhotoCompetition helps troops adjust to life without limbsArmy Master Sergeant Dan Hendrix of Colorado Springs, Colo., swims before the start of the inaugural Air Force Trials at the Buchanan Natatorium on the campus of UNLV on Monday. Hendrix lost his leg in a parachuting accident in 2012. These trials are to qualify for the 2014 Warrior Games to be held in Colorado this fall.(Justin Adidas Jacket Mens White

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