/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
History
Minnesota National Guard
Moorhead man who lost sight in Iraq War to take part in Walk for Vision

MOORHEAD - Eric Marts made it a point to take care of the soldiers he led in battle in Iraq, even as repeated roadside blasts were robbing him of his eyesight

By: Helmut Schmidt, Forum Communications Co, DL-Online
Published April 27, 2012, 06:19 AM

Now blind, the 50-year-old former Army National Guard master sergeant is still helping others, hoping to give people in the same situation - whether veterans or lifelong civilians - the same advantages

Marts plans to walk with his guide dog, "Corporal" Deacon, at North Dakota State University on Saturday in the Fargo version of "Walk for Vision," the main fundraiser for the North Dakota Association of the Blind

dog

"I'm pretty blessed," Marts says matter-of-factly

After all, the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs helped get him the training and the technology to make a life without sight more navigable, as well as his big, friendly English Labrador guide dog

He wants to be part of the walk to raise money so that those without his support system can go to camps and get the same sort of help to ease their way through the world

"So I guess that's a good cause," Marts said

About half the money raised from the 14th annual "Walk for Vision" funds weeklong camp experiences at Camp Grassick near Dawson, ND, while the other half goes to other programs to help the blind, said Allan Peterson, a co-chairman of the event

Peterson hopes free-will donations bring in at least $6,000 He said Thrivent for Lutherans has also promised up to $1,200 in matching funds

Gene Taylor, athletic director for NDSU, has been connected with the event for several years

"We've been really trying to grow the numbers (at the walk) and raise awareness wherever we can," Taylor said "Those of us with sight never truly understand the challenges they (the blind) face"

Too many explosions

Marts lost his sight after many concussions suffered in a series of explosions in combat, he said

He served with the Minnesota National Guard in B Company of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, part of the 34th Infantry Division They were in Iraq from October 2005 to July 2007, in and around the hotspot of Fallujah

As he puts it, he's been "blown up" twice, as vehicles he's ridden in were disabled by improvised explosive devices

He's also been within 60 feet of exploding mortar rounds or rocket-propelled grenades on at least eight other occasions

The intense shockwaves from those blasts had a cumulative effect, jolting his brain far too often

In 2006, a blast went off under a vehicle in which he was riding He then lost vision in his right eye, but convinced superiors that because he shot his rifle left-handed, he could still be effective

He put a patch on his right eye and was able to talk his way back on duty

The next major blast rolled his Bradley fighting vehicle, a light tank and troop carrier Then he started losing his remaining vision quickly

"I was going blind fast," Marts said He was sent home in July 2007

In coming months, he had surgeries for shoulder and neck injuries suffered in the Bradley blast He had to give up his car keys

"That was a hard day," Marts said

That fall, he still had 10 percent vision in one eye - essentially seeing shades of gray But while training at the Edward Hines Jr VA Hospital, a Chicago-area facility that has a specialty center for the blind, the rest of his sight slipped away

Deacon came into his life while he was getting his medical discharge at Fort Knox, Ky, he said An advocate from the Wounded Warrior Project asked him why he didn't have a dog

He said it was because they were too expensive

She told him not to worry about that

That was on a Friday

On Monday, he got a call from Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind

Two years ago, a trainer flew to Fargo-Moorhead and introduced Marts to Deacon, training him on how to handle the 2-year-old pooch

"I had to learn how to speak Labrador," Marts quipped

"I gave him the rank of corporal, since that's the first leadership position" for non-commissioned officers, he said "He's definitely in a leadership position He leads me all around"

At the Hines center, Marts learned to use "all sorts of gadgets to make our lives easier" Things like a money reader, a menu and document reader, bar code scanners with voice playbacks describing what is in cans and packages and computer programs that help the blind surf the web

"There's a lot of technology out there, but people can't afford it," Marts said "I was hoping that if we can bring enough awareness, if they can raise enough money, maybe they can get some of these gadgets for these people"

Marts and his wife, Bobbie, will start the walk and make a couple of laps before they head off to his job

Marts has a radio gig with WDAY 970 AM Every Saturday at 10 am, he hosts the hourlong "Heroes of the Heartland" program, with news and information for military veterans

"I still want to be connected with what I did," Marts said "Who else can I take care of?"

He ponders whether the radio work couldn't become another career

"I'm not a bitter person You just drive on You adapt You overcome," Marts said

At the same time ...

"I would not wish anybody to lose their eyesight It's such a precious thing," he said

He's had one grandchild and another is coming in June

"I've never seen their faces I miss those visions so much," Marts said

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583
Article source
http://www.dl-online.com/event/article/id/67249/group/homepage/



Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Minnesota aviators participate in Talisman Saber 17, lay foundation for Warfighter Training Exercise

Posted: 2017-07-25  12:55 PM
Talisman Saber CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - More than 140 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade recently wrapped up participation here in the seventh iteration of the biennial training exercise Talisman Saber.

The St. Paul, Minnesota-based Soldiers were among 33,000 U.S. and Australian military personnel who convened in multiple locations around the world to support and engage in the event made up of field training and command post exercise components.

Unit members of the 34th CAB, which is adept at providing a wide spectrum of aviation support, took part in the command post exercise and used the training as an opportunity to focus on air-ground integration -- or synchronizing aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.



National Guard Soldiers advance to all-Army Best Warrior Competition

Posted: 2017-07-22  11:02 AM
ARNG BWC CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Fourteen of the Army National Guard's most elite Soldiers gathered on Camp Ripley Training Center in central Minnesota July 17-20 to determine who would compete in the all-Army Best Warrior Competition later this year.

Although every Soldier gave it their all, only one noncommissioned officer and one enlisted Soldier would claim the title of Army National Guard Best Warrior. The room was tense as everyone awaited the results during the final awards ceremony.

"We told you we were going to do everything but break you," said Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Wortham, the Minnesota National Guard Senior Enlisted Advisor. He summarized the four days explaining how the competitors all came from their respective states as individual competitors and through the competition ended up as comrades. "You were stressed, you were challenged. You guys did a fantastic job... But, the devil's in the details."



Fourteen Soldiers. Twelve States. One Competition.

Posted: 2017-07-16  09:45 PM
ARNG BWC One Soldier (junior enlisted) and one NCO (non-commissioned officer) will emerge at the top at the Army National Guard's Best Warrior Competition held at Camp Ripley, Minn., July 17-20, 2017, and move on to represent the Guard in the All-Army Best Warrior Competition in October.

The competitors have been conducting last-minute training since July 12 at Camp Ripley by honing their skills on various weapons, maintaining their physical strength and endurance, and reviewing military tasks.

"I'm feeling very confident," said Cpl. Joseph Garback, a cannon crewmember with B Co., 1st Battalion, 114th Infantry, 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, New Jersey National Guard. He's been preparing with the other Region 1 competition winner, Sgt. Zachary Scuncio. Garback says he has really liked the hands-on preparation at Camp Ripley and believes he's had an ample amount of time to prepare.



Minnesota-based Combat Aviation Unit Soars into Battle Phase of Bilateral Training Exercise

Posted: 2017-07-16  09:52 AM
34th CAB CAMP ATTERBURY, Indiana - More than 140 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade have established a presence at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where they are supporting and engaging in high-level military operations and synchronization training.

Members of the St. Paul, Minnesota-based aviation unit, which is adept at providing a wide spectrum of aviation support, recently dove into the battle phase of the bilateral training exercise Talisman Saber 17. Throughout the exercise, much of their training will focus on air-ground integration -- or synchronizing aviation operations into the scheme of maneuver planned and conducted by forces on the ground.



Article archive
 
top