POPLAR GROVE (AP) — After completing a tour of Iraq, Marine Cpl. Noah Currier certainly didn't have the homecoming he expected.
The Poplar Grove resident flew to Camp Pendleton in California with the intention of staying four days before leaving for Illinois. But the day before his plane trip home, the car Currier was riding in crashed, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
He returned to Illinois and started selling military-themed T-shirts to offset costly physical therapy. More importantly, he learned the importance of setting goals and staying active.
"When individuals gain momentum in their life, the positive change affects everybody," Currier said.
Nowadays, he's known as "Oscar Mike," which means "on the move" in military jargon. He's keeps busy by growing his business, which now offers about 75 different types of apparel, hats and accessories at oscarmike.org.
He also founded the Oscar Mike Foundation, which helps finance physical activities for injured veterans. The organization has paid for dozens to surf, skydive, ski and participate in athletic tournaments.
"We're trying to get people to do things they've never done," Currier said. "Once you get people thinking outside the box, you're gonna get people thinking things they've never thought before."
His efforts helped Army Infantry Team Leader Andy Hedlund, who suffered a stroke in July and required intensive brain surgery. He now works for Oscar Mike and creates "Life Line" bracelets and dog collars out of parachute chord — rope that's become a staple in military servicemen's duties.
"Noah went through something crazy in life ... now, he's helping every kind of injury: amputees, PTSD, all military guys," Hedlund said.