Invictus: Wounded Marine gets ready for London games

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Marine Major Eric Burkett considers himself a lucky guy.

Burkett was one of only two survivors when the Osprey tilt rotor aircraft that he was piloting in Morocco crashed on April 11, 2012. Burkett had one leg amputated and may yet lose the other.

However, his injuries have not slowed him down. Burkett, who is a master archer, leaves for London next week to compete in the Invictus games – an international Olympiad of Wounded Warrior games conceived by Prince Harry. The British royal has invited injured war veterans from around the world to compete for gold.

Burkett never misses when he takes aim.

“It's an indoor shoot,” Burkett told Fox News surrounded by his four children, Keenan, Josilyn, Mastin and Lochlen, all of whom have been raised at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda. “Whatever format they'll give me, I'll shoot it. I’ll beat the Brits. Beat 'em all."

Burkett is one of four patients at Walter Reed who will represent the U.S. at the Invictus games from September 10 -14.

“I hate shooting from a wheelchair,” Burkett said. “A lot of guys don't mind it because you're a little bit lower, you don't have to worry about this instability of your legs. I'd rather stand but I mean it does get painful at times.”

Prince Harry, himself a combat-certified Apache helicopter pilot, came up with the idea of holding the games at London’s Olympic complex during a trip to the U.S., while attending the Warrior games sponsored by the U.S. military in Colorado.

He enlisted a number of famous friends for their support, including Rod Stewart, Daniel Craig and Will.I.Am. The celebrities quote from the poem Invictus during the evocative advertisement for the upcoming games, which are sponsored by Jaguar and others.

“I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul. I am Invictus,” the participants recite from the Victorian poem penned by William Earnest Henley. “Out of the night that covers me, / Black as the pit from pole to pole, / I thank whatever gods may be / For my unconquerable soul.”

Burkett had long used archery for hunting, and getting back to the sport has been a key part of his recovery.

“It has given him mental clarity,” Burkett's wife, Melissa, told Fox News at the 12th Precinct Pistol and Archery Club in Harwood, Md. The club invites veterans and warriors being treated at Walter Reed to shoot for free at its nearby range.

Shortly after being injured, Burkett was asked by a group of visiting volunteers if he would like to get back to shooting arrows. They were trying to lift his spirits by suggesting recreational activities that he could do while still an inpatient.

“I was in archery before Hunger Games,” Burkett said he told them. "I said anybody any time and I'll beat them. I was probably on a lot of drugs then."

Burkett returned to the range when he was still in his wheelchair. The farthest he has shot and won is 90 meters, or 270 feet.

“I've won the gold at Endeavor games last year. I came in silver this year at Endeavor games, that's the big sporting event in Oklahoma City," he said.

Burkett's children are all learning to hold a bow, and his 11-year-old son Keenan was a state archery champion when he was 9.

“He is retired,” Burkett said with a grin. “In 2009 North Carolina state champion,  6 to 8-year-old division.”

The other children were inspired to learn archery after seeing their father prepare for the Invictus games. Burkett said it had given him a renewed sense of purpose.

“My legs get sore walking back and forth to pull arrows,” Burkett said. "As Marines, as servicemen, we get used to just pushing through.”

That strength, his family says, is what enables him to keep going. Now they say he plans to win.

Click to read more about the Invictus games.