If you’ve run the Reindeer Fun Run in the past couple years, you are sure to have noticed individuals running in gas masks–still wearing antlers. Here is a little bit about Team Sapper and the non-profit, Operation Enduring Warrior to share why they do what they do.
The Masked Athlete Team (MAT) are specially trained volunteers who support our wounded veterans with the physical and mental adversity of extreme athletic challenges. The MAT spends countless hours preparing and researching ways to successfully assist our wounded veterans negotiate their extreme athletic challenges. Past events have included obstacle course races, hand-cycling, 5k and 10k races, and half/full Marathons
The gas masks worn by the team are symbolic of the hardships our wounded veterans live with every day. When the team members wear their gas masks their airflow is restricted by approximately 25%, simulating how the WVs they serve are overcoming insurmountable odds in the face of adversity. The MAT are composed of active-duty and prior service men and women. They chose their call sign based on the leadership traits instilled into them while performing their military duties and now will embody this specific trait while performing their duties as a Masked Athlete.
CALL SIGNS OF M.A.T.
Sacrifice– Medically retired USMC veteran who served in Afghanistan with 1st Reconnaissance BN. Sacrifice was severely wounded during an IED blast in Helmand Province resulting in double hip disarticulation with a left transradial amputation
Sacrifice– US Army Guard Veteran. Infantryman with deployments to Bosnia, Iraq and combat wounded in Afghanistan.
Sacrifice– Served in the US Army with the 1/25th SBCT as a Combat Engineer during 1 tour to Afghanistan. Sustained a serious traumatic injury to lower extremity resulting in a hip-disartic amputation.
Sacrifice – Retired Special Forces Communications Sergeant. Conducted multiple deployments to OEF, OIF, and Southcom. Above the knee and elbow amputee.
Commitment– Served active duty Marine Corps from ’92-’96. Honor Guard at the Marine Barracks 8th & I Washington D.C. ’93-’95. Infantry Squad Leader at 2nd Battalion 5th Marines ’95-’96. Deployed to Okinawa, Korea & China with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit ’95-’96. End of active service June 1996
Conviction– U.S Navy Veteran. Provided aircrew survival equipment support to F/A 18 Hornet aircraft.
Dedication– US Army OEF/OIF veteran paratrooper of 13 years. Served with the Quartermaster and Military Police Corps.
Dependability – Former Sergeant, US Marine Corps. Task Force Shepherd – Desert Storm. 1st Recon Battalion, 1st Light Armored Scout Training Section. Served primarily as a scout instructor and battalion rappel master. 0311 / 0313 / 8023.
Endurance – a United States Marine Corps Veteran who served in the 2nd Marine Division (Light Armor Reconnaissance Battalion) as a vehicle operator, and primary marksmanship instructor.
Guardian – Active Duty Navy “Mustang” with over 21 years of active service and counting. Four deployments to the Mediterranean/Middle East/Caribbean as a helicopter crewman/rescue swimmer and one deployment to Afghanistan as a Med-Surg/ER/Critical Care nurse.
Honesty– Currently serving active duty as a Military Police Officer. Served 2 deployments to Iraq and 1 to the Philippines.
Honor– Currently serving in the US Army Reserves. Deployed 4 times as an Ammunition Specialist and Robot Repair Technician to Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.
Initiative– Navy Veteran. Served as both officer and enlisted in the Navy Nuclear Power field for multiple deployments during OEF and OIF.
Integrity– Retired Naval Officer. Served as a Naval Flight Officer in the EA-6B aircraft.
Justice– Marine Corps Veteran. Provided direct air support and CASEVAC/MEDEVAC coordination during 2 deployments to Iraq.
Perseverance – Currently serving in the US Air Force Reserves. Deployed and supported both OEF and OIF on multiple deployments to Qatar, Kuwait, and Afghanistan in joint assignments.
Reciprocity– Currently serving as an active duty Special Forces Engineer Sergeant. Served in both OEF and OIF on multiple deployments.
Solace– Active duty currently serving in the US Army. Served as Special Forces Medical Sergeant during 5 deployments to Afghanistan.
Tact– Veteran of the United States Air Force. Served as an Air Transportation Journeyman during 4 deployments to Afghanistan and Kuwait.
Tenacity – Currently serving Army Reserve Civil Affairs officer with over 27 years of service (17+ enlisted, 10 commissioned). Mobilized four times, deployed to Iraq and Cuba as an MP.
Unbreakable – currently serving with 1st Ranger Bn as Engineer Breacher. Served in both OEF and OIF for total of 7 deployments at current time.
Valor– Currently serving as an active duty Special Forces Communications Sergeant. Served in both OEF and OIF on multiple combat rotations.