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Prince Harry Dons Medals to Present Soldier of the Year Award in Special Virtual Appearance

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On Wednesday, April 24, the Duke of Sussex, 39, paid tribute to his “friend” Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks as he presented her with the prestigious Military Times Soldier of the Year Award.

Speaking in a virtual appearance, which appeared to have been filmed in the backyard of his Montecito, Calif. home, Harry wore four medals on his chest as he described Marks as a “beacon of inspiration.”

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Prince Harry Dons Medals to Present Soldier of the Year Award in Special Virtual Appearance
The Duke of Sussex presented Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks with the honor during a video appearance on April 25

By Kirsty Hatcher and Simon Perry Published on April 26, 2024 06:07AM EDT
Prince Harry Elizabeth Marks
Prince Harry; Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks. PHOTO: CHRIS JACKSON/GETTY IMAGES; ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES
Prince Harry is honoring a special member of the armed forces community.

On Wednesday, April 24, the Duke of Sussex, 39, paid tribute to his “friend” Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks as he presented her with the prestigious Military Times Soldier of the Year Award.

Speaking in a virtual appearance, which appeared to have been filmed in the backyard of his Montecito, Calif. home, Harry wore four medals on his chest as he described Marks as a “beacon of inspiration.”

“I first met Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks at the Invictus Games in Orlando 2016, where I presented her with not one, but four gold medals that she’d won in swimming,” Harry’s speech began. “To me, she epitomizes the courage, resilience and determination represented across our service community. And this is not just because of her swimming abilities.”

“Ellie has courageously overcome every obstacle to cross her path,” he continued. “She has turned her pain into purpose and led through compassion and willpower, showing others that the impossible is indeed possible.”

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Prince Harry Dons Medals to Present Soldier of the Year Award in Special Virtual Appearance
The Duke of Sussex presented Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks with the honor during a video appearance on April 25

By Kirsty Hatcher and Simon Perry Published on April 26, 2024 06:07AM EDT
Prince Harry Elizabeth Marks
Prince Harry; Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks. PHOTO: CHRIS JACKSON/GETTY IMAGES; ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES
Prince Harry is honoring a special member of the armed forces community.

On Wednesday, April 24, the Duke of Sussex, 39, paid tribute to his “friend” Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks as he presented her with the prestigious Military Times Soldier of the Year Award.

Speaking in a virtual appearance, which appeared to have been filmed in the backyard of his Montecito, Calif. home, Harry wore four medals on his chest as he described Marks as a “beacon of inspiration.”

“I first met Sergeant First Class Elizabeth Marks at the Invictus Games in Orlando 2016, where I presented her with not one, but four gold medals that she’d won in swimming,” Harry’s speech began. “To me, she epitomizes the courage, resilience and determination represented across our service community. And this is not just because of her swimming abilities.”

“Ellie has courageously overcome every obstacle to cross her path,” he continued. “She has turned her pain into purpose and led through compassion and willpower, showing others that the impossible is indeed possible.”

08/05/16 of Prince Harry with Elizabeth Marks at the Invictus Games in Orlando
Elizabeth Marks and Prince Harry at the 2016 Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida. CHRIS JACKSON/PA
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According to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s official website, the combat medic — who joined the U.S. Army in 2008 at the age of 17 — has faced “significant challenges” in her career, including bilateral hip injuries “which would shape the rest of her trajectory in the Army.”

“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,” Harry explained.

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