skip to navigation skip to content skip to footer

Garry Robinson - Wattle Grove

As he prepares to compete at the Invictus Games in London, Sergeant Garry Robinson of Wattle Grove remembers how his life changed forever on June 21, 2010.

The 2nd Commando Regiment (2 Cdo) sniper barely survived the crash of a Black Hawk in Afghanistan, which claimed the lives of four comrades and put him in hospital for two years.

The helicopter accident in northern Kandahar killed Privates Tim Aplin, Ben Chuck and Scott Palmer and left seven other Australian commandos and four Americans badly wounded.

Garry will be one of 36 Defence and RSL athletes competing in the inaugural Invictus Games, an initiative of His Royal Highness Prince Harry.

With his wife Katrina and their three children, Rebekah (22), Carly (19) and Joshua (16), by his side the former triathlete continues to recover from his horrific injuries as he focuses on the Invictus Games.

Garry said it had helped his recovery to have new goals to reach towards.

"I now feel my therapy is for a specific purpose," Garry said.

"It has also given me a reason to try archery for the first time and I will continue with the sport after the Games.

"I am looking forward to participating in the events and being around other wounded service veterans with my wife and children there to cheer on the team and me."

More than 400 competitors from 14 nations will compete in the Games from September 10 to 14.

Teams will come from the armed forces of nations that have served alongside the British.

The Invictus Games will use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect of those who serve their country

Although missing a leg and recovering from a severe traumatic brain injury, Garry will compete in the swimming (50m freestyle), archery and recumbent cycling events.

Garry joined the Australian Army in 1994 and began his military career in the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR), then transferring to 4RAR (Cdo) before the unit became 2 Cdo Regt.

He deployed to Timor Leste three times (1999, 2001 and 2002), and was on his third deployment to Afghanistan (2007, 2009 and 2010) when the Black Hawk accident occurred.

Garry was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) in recognition for leadership in action while a special forces reconnaissance team commander with the Special Operations Task Group Rotation (SOTG) VII in Afghanistan from June to November 2008.

He was also awarded the Commendation for Distinguished Service in 2010 while a member of SOTG XII.

SOTG XII was awarded the battle honour in 2013 for the 2010 Battle of Eastern Shah Wali Kot in recognition of their extraordinary heroism and exemplary combat performance.

Garry said every day his thoughts are about the mates who lost their lives throughout his career, especially his close friend Ben Chuck who died in the crash.

"I think of him every day," Garry said.

"I think of him when my training is tough, as it inspires me to push even harder for him."

Maintaining his fitness was always an important factor for Garry, especially in his special forces career.

In 2008 he competed in the Port Macquarie Ironman and in 2009, just before his last deployment, he participated the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships.

Garry said it was an honour to previously represent Australia as a triathlete and the Invictus Games would be a similar experience.

"Some of the events will be a challenge because I don’t know what to expect," he said.

"My goal for the swimming event is to complete the distance without stopping with only one leg and really only one arm because of the effects from the brain injury on my other arm means I can’t get it out of the water.

"I am not sure of the distances I can go in riding, I just hope to push myself to the fastest speed my recumbent bike can go.

"Archery is completely new to me, so I hope to gain some experience and see how other people with similar disabilities manage to do it."