The heavy metal disk soars through the air, and Sarah Rudder’s sea-green eyes follow it as it lands in the sand of the baseball diamond during the 2015 Warrior Games, where Rudder is competing for the first time, in track, field, swimming and volleyball.
The distance is marked, and as she walks back toward the shade to escape the 90-degree heat and humidity, an athlete with the Air Force team gives her a friendly pat on the shoulder. Rudder — a Marine veteran from Hawthorne, California — is playing for her branch, but the easy camaraderie between contenders is one of the many things that makes this competition unique.
This year’s Warrior Games, at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, brought more than 250 military veterans and active-duty personnel together to compete in adaptive sports. Each athlete has not only trained and prepared extensively for their events, but has overcome physical injury as well.
“It feels awesome,” Rudder said, referring to the chance to compete that day. “It let me know that I can compete just like anyone else on the same disability as me and be able to level the playing field.”
Marine veteran Sarah Rudder, 32, poses for a photo after taking part in the discus competition during the 2015 Warrior Games, June 23.
As a administration specialist stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps, Rudder was in the process of being promoted to the rank of lance corporal in a building across the street from the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
She was among the Marines assigned to search and rescue after American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon. While helping with rescue operations, Rudder suffered a fracture up her left leg. Rudder endured numerous surgeries until her leg was amputated last year. Now, just a year later, she’s walking and competing.
Rudder was walking with crutches in the days leading up to the competition, after bruising the bone on her amputated leg. But when it came time to compete in her event, the pain didn’t stop her.
“I came out here and put my leg on and I’m just doing my best,” said Rudder, mirroring the sentiment of a common military adage: Dig deep, keep pushing.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."