MARENGO – In a blink of an eye, Noah Currier’s life was altered forever.
One second he was a young Marine, fresh from a tour in Iraq, and in the next instant he was paralyzed from the neck down.
It was 2003, and the then 21-year-old was just three days returned from combat. He and another Marine were returning to Camp Pendelton, Calif., when his driver fell asleep at the wheel, rolling their vehicle about a dozen times into an embankment. The accident left Currier, of Poplar Grove, a quadriplegic.
Currier was supposed to fly home the next day.
“It was tough to deal with,” the 31-year-old Marine Corps veteran said. “I went from being a 6-foot-1, strong, young Marine, to sitting 90 degrees in a wheelchair. It took some time to deal with it. ... It doesn’t help to be angry about it all the time.”
Today Currier is the founder and president of Oscar Mike, a Marengo company that sells American-made, military-themed T-shirts and apparel. Ten percent of proceeds go to the Oscar Mike Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the company that sends disabled veterans to adaptive sporting events.
Oscar Mike is military radio jargon for “on the move.”
A few years after his accident, Currier needed help, and got an idea.
He created a T-shirt emblazoned with a Marine Corps logo and a saying that read, “He who sheds blood with me shall forever be my brother,” a nod to Shakespeare’s “Henry V.”
In about three months, T-shirts sales netted about $12,000 – enough to send Currier and another veteran to necessary physical therapy.
But his story doesn’t end there.
A few years later, Currier participated in his first adaptive sporting event – downhill skiing in Aspen, Colo.
“I never thought that’d be possible,” he said.
When he’d conquered what he thought to be the unimaginable, it made everything else seem effortless – even starting a business and nonprofit.
Currier soon realized that other veterans couldn’t afford to attend these life-changing sporting events. Recalling the success of the T-shirt fundraiser, Currier had another idea. He also had a garage that served as his warehouse, a bedroom that was his office, and about a $30,000 bankroll to get the business moving.
Oscar Mike was launched on Veterans Day 2011, or 11-11-11. The company moved to the Marengo warehouse and office space in January.
Oscar Mike has seven employees, five of which are disabled veterans.
“We are disabled veterans. ... We are who we help,” Currier said.
Oscar Mike does much of its sales online, at www.oscarmike.org, which provides the company with a wider reach. The first year netted about $60,000 in sales, Currier said.
Locally, Oscar Mike goods can be purchased at D Christine’s in Marengo.
For more information, visit www.oscarmike.org.