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Honouring Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks

Apr. 2024

Last night, Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks received the prestigious Military Times Soldier of the Year Award – a testament to her unwavering dedication, exceptional bravery, and outstanding service in the United States Army and beyond.

SFC Marks’ journey is one of remarkable perseverance and achievement. When the young combat medic joined the U.S. Army in 2008 at the age of 17, her mission was to champion her family’s legacy of military service. Despite facing significant challenges, including bilateral hip injuries which would shape the rest of her trajectory in the Army, she has demonstrated an indomitable spirit and a tireless commitment to her fellow soldiers and country. Her resilience was not only evident in her recovery and return to active duty but also in her exceptional performance as a competitive swimmer. Prince Harry first met SFC Marks at the Invictus Games Orlando in 2016, where he presented her with not one, but four gold medals that she’d won in swimming.

Since then, SFC Marks has gone on to become a 2016 ESPY Pat Tillman Award recipient; 2017 inductee into the Army Woman’s Hall of Fame; 5x Paralympic medalist; 10-time world record holder; 15-time American record holder; two-time Games record holder and one-time World Championships record holder. She is the first Paralympic female in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program as well as the most decorated athlete in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program’s history. Her achievements underscore the values of strength, compassion, and excellence that define the best of our armed forces.

“Ellie has courageously overcome every obstacle to cross her path. She has turned her pain into purpose and led through compassion and willpower, showing others that the impossible is indeed possible. Despite the injuries she endured during her deployment as a medical assistant in Iraq – along with numerous surgeries and setbacks that would have deterred many – she has persevered tirelessly, becoming the first woman in the Army’s world-class athlete program as well as the first swimmer the program had ever seen. She’s also taken her recovery a step further, using her experiences and achievements to inspire and assist others in their mental and physical journey into sport, ensuring those who can’t see a way out or through are introduced to the medicine of sport that saved her too.” – Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex