After joining the Marine Corps in 2000, Noah was among the first soldiers deployed to Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11. As a gunner for Charlie Company, he was subsequently deployed to Iraq in 2003 as part of the leading combat units, the "tip of the spear." He returned to Camp Pendleton after seven months in Iraq—days later, a trucker fell asleep at the wheel and Noah suffered a C-6 spinal cord injury.
Six years later Noah finally let go of the funk that was holding him back and, as he says, “became addicted” to sports. Thanks to friends at Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans), Noah regained his motivation to play competitive sports. Since then, Noah has been involved in weightlifting, rowing, skydiving, skiing and his personal favorites, rugby and handcycling.
“I’d give them a ton of credit for the change in my life,” says Noah about Paralyzed Veterans. “I wouldn’t have been able to go to events if (they) didn’t help with funding.” With nothing holding him back, Noah has constantly been on the move, or in military lingo, “Oscar Mike.”
It’s therefore appropriate that Noah would found a company named after the military term Oscar Mike. Oscar Mike is a military apparel company that makes, designs, and prints its military-themed T-shirts and “hoodies” in the United States. The company officially launched on Veterans Day 2012, and there are lots different items available for purchase on the company’s website, www.oscarmike.org.
The Oscar Mike team is composed of other paralyzed veterans: Joey King and Michael Larson. Though currently a team of three veterans, Noah aims to eventually employ 16 paralyzed or disabled veterans. He currently serves as the designer, but Noah hopes to hire two other veterans in the same capacity through Paralyzed Veterans’ California Chapter.
Noah also created a nonprofit organization, the Oscar Mike Foundation, which will exclusively support Paralyzed Veterans and DAV through donations, with 10 percent of all proceeds from the apparel company will go to the foundation and 100 percent of the foundation’s funds will be donated.
“(Paralyzed Veterans of America) has had our backs from the minute we’re in our accident and for the rest of our lives,” he said. And, according to Noah, the organization embodies the meaning of Oscar Mike, helping paralyzed veterans "get on the move in physical and rehabilitative goals.”
Jeremy Diamond is an International Relations & Political Science double-major at The George Washington University.