Wounded Warriors

David Martin Davies

Three nights out of the week you’ll find Moses Sonera at the Randazzo Brothers boxing gym on San Antonio’s Northeast side. He’s working the speed bag, driving combination punches into the heavy bags and getting ready for his next big fight. 

But look down and you’ll notice that Sonera is missing a leg.  He’s boxing with a prosthetic limb. The 41- year-old lost his leg during a mortar attack in Iraq, in 2004. 

"To me it means everything like a second chance at life," Sonera said. 

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base," and this is the second installment of the ongoing series.

It was 2005, and Gary Walters had served a year in Iraq. Then, one day, a bomb went off near him, and he suffered severe wounds.

courtesy of "Ice Warriors: USA Sled Hockey"

The 2014 U.S. Sled Hockey team won gold for the second consecutive paralympics in Sochi, Russia. It hadn't been done before in the relatively unknown sport, but sled hockey may not be under-the-radar for much longer. 

Ron Strang was on patrol in Afghanistan when a primitive land mine exploded.

"When it went off, it came across the front of my body," Strang says. Though he survived the blast, his left leg was never the same. Shrapnel destroyed most of the muscle on his left thigh. He used to run, swim and hike. But even after he recovered, those days of carefree movement were gone.

Several bio-tech companies are developing exoskeletons that give people superhuman abilities. These robotic suits are also doing something simpler: They're helping people who are paralyzed, including many veterans, stand up and walk. As Erin Toner of WUWM reports, the technology helps improve patients' mental and physical health, but it's far from changing their lives entirely.

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