ORLANDO (CBSMiami) — The Invictus Games have begun in Orlando.
First lady Michelle Obama joined George W. Bush and Prince Harry at Sunday’s opening ceremony. More than 500 athletes from 15 countries will compete in 11 sporting events all week.
Prince Harry who spent the past two years getting the games ready for America talked with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell about what the games mean for him and the men and women competitors.
To see Prince Harry in his comfort zone, just watch him with veterans.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie with you and many of the men and women here,” said O’Donnell.
“Yeah,” replied Prince Harry.
“How do you describe that,” asked O’Donnell.
“No, you know I’ve said to a lot of people in the past that I am probably, I view myself as Captain Wales first and Prince Harry second,” said Prince Harry. “I’ve done all this stuff. I’ve walked the walk. I’ve worn the t-shirt. I’ve done a lot of what these guys have done and I’ve been lucky enough not to be injured so it seemed very fitting for me to be able to use my name and status to bring a spotlight onto these individuals. Create the platform and allow them to flourish.”
That platform is the Invictus Games – a competition of wounded service men and women from around the world.
Prince Harry launched the games from London in 2014 and admits expectations are high for their American debut.
“The second time around is always harder, bizarrely. And this one has been harder,” said Prince Harry. “We just need to fill the seats and make sure we create the perfect atmosphere for the competitors.”
Caroline Walsh’s husband Sean is in the cycling competition. It’s a proud moment for her and one she hopes their young son will always remember.
“I’m really excited that our son gets to see all of these athletes and see how you can be so brave during your career and how you can be so brave serving your country and then when times get hard and you get injured, you get sick, continue to be brave and continue to be a role model,” said Walsh.
Other competitors include Navy Airman Brett Parks and Air Force Captain Christy Wise who lost limbs, but not in action.
“You expect risks in Afghanistan or Africa or flying missions but it can happen anywhere, anytime,” said Wise.
“Yes. I always joke with people saying that I saved the government a plane ticket! I didn’t have to go over there and get injured,” said Parks.
He broke up an armed robbery near his home in Jacksonville.
“He had a gun in his sweatshirt pocket and he fired off two shots. One hit me in the abdomen and the other one missed,” said Parks.
Wise was hit by a fishing boat while paddle boarding.
“I lost about 60 to 70% of my blood in the water, but I’m so happy to be here,” said Wise.
Her recovery has been remarkable. Now back in the cockpit as an active duty pilot, she was quick to give credit to her family of high achievers, which includes an Olympic gold medal-winning brother and twin sister who is a doctor.
“I just have to survive it. They’re the ones who see you in pain and can’t do anything about it. I think it’s harder on them than it is for us,” said Wise.
O’Donnell asked Parks, “Your wife was seven months pregnant at the time. This takes a huge toll on families.”
“It does. My wife’s my hero. She’s the greatest woman I’ve ever known,” replied Parks. “And I didn’t get to speak to her for 20 days. I always joke that I’d much rather be in my shoes than hers because every single day she thought this would be the last day she’d see me.”
Prince Harry said one of the main reasons for coming to Orlando was the parks.
“This was one of the main reasons of coming to– coming to Orlando. Disney World next door. All the families and friends are coming over. The kids are gonna– absolutely love it. I’m gonna love it,” said Prince Harry whose first trip to the United States was Disney World in 1993.
It’s a trip he took with his mother the late Princess Diana.
“Yeah. With our mother. And, you know, we had happy — happy memories. You know, it’s– it was– it was absolutely fantastic. And it’s so nice to be back here– back here with—with all– with all these guys as well,” said Prince Harry.
O’Donnell asked, “What do you think your mother, Princess Diana, would think about what you’ve done here for veterans?”
“I’d hope she’d be, you know, incredibly proud, said Prince Harry. “I hope she’d be sitting up there having her own little party. And looking down thinking what we’ve achieved cause it’s a massive team effort. What we’ve achieved is absolutely brilliant. I– I would love it if she was here, and I’m– I’m sure she would–be running around causing chaos like I intend to.”
“And very proud of you,” asked O’Donnell.
“I hope so. I hope so,” replied Prince Harry.
As for the games, to see the determination of the athletes, just look at the pictures and listen to their hearts.
“They wanna kick the ass out of life. You know,” said Prince Harry. “They understand, this is a second chance at life. A lot of these guys taking part in these games should not be alive. That is a reason to watch.”
The Invictus Games will run until Thursday, May 12th.
Click here to watch the interview.