COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A Colorado Springs wounded veteran is one of the team members back home from an extraordinary expedition to the South Pole.
It took one month and 125 miles for three teams of wounded veterans to reach the South Pole on a remarkable expedition. It's the same trip Prince Harry made.
Four organizations: Soldiers to Summits, Walking with the Wounded, Soldier On, and Soldier On Sans Limites, combined for a united global endeavor. In teams of four, wounded servicemen and women traveled to the South Pole to challenge themselves on a journey they say changed their lives.
It started as a competition in brutal conditions to reach the South Pole. Americans, Brits, Canada and Australia racing against each other.
"Reaching the Pole was a great accomplishment, but it's only been a fraction of really what this is intended to do," said Mark Wise, one of the Team USA members.
Along the 125 mile trek in nearly -50 degrees (F), delays, injuries and illnesses united the three teams of wounded veterans.
"Really toned back the competition or the competitive attitude and really got everybody to work together and to just enjoy the experience," said Wise.
Wise, like his teammates, was hurt in combat. He described the moment he switched spots with another soldier that changed his life.
"When I slid over, the IED detonated about a meter away, killing him and it basically cut up the whole left side of my body," said Wise.
Four years later, Mark found Walking with the Wounded, an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
"When I exited the Army, you feel like you're leaving the team. I wanted to continue to contribute to that mission," said Wise.
The extreme task to ski to the South Pole was upon him. The training was in Telluride, Colo.
Mark knew that expedition in Antarctica would be tough, but he learned miles from the finish line how far he'd come.
"Coming out of a come after nine days from being wounded to remembering the first time someone picked me up to stand on my two feet," said Wise.
On his two feet skiing to the South Pole mark made a difference in a spectacular way.
"This has given me that opportunity to do that and to feel rewarded or have that rewarding experience to again continue to serve others," said Wise.
Wise is now sharing his experience with other veterans, reaching out to help his fellow servicemen and women recover.