Marine Chuck Sketch, from California, left a lasting impression on Cpl. Joseph Tarkett at last week’s Warrior Games.


That inspiration is what pushed Marine Cpl. Tarkett — who suffered an eye injury and blown eardrum in Afghanistan — to win a gold medal.    


Marine Chuck Sketch, from California, left a lasting impression on Cpl. Joseph Tarkett at last week’s Warrior Games.

 

“There is one Marine here who lost both legs and is blind, and this guy has to be the most motivated Marine I have ever met,” said Cpl. Tarkett.

 

That inspiration is what pushed Marine Cpl. Tarkett — who suffered an eye injury and blown eardrum in Afghanistan — to win a gold medal.

 

   
“This week hasn’t been about our disabilities, it’s been about our abilities,” said Tarkett, of Hawley.
Held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Tarkett said it was a great honor to participate.

 

 Close to 200 troops had gathered to compete in nine different sports, a military Paralympics, celebrating “the achievement and abilities of wounded, ill and injured service members through athletic competition.”

 

All military branches were represented, Cpl. Tarkett said, “Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and then the big dogs, the Marine Corps.

 

“Just to be able to say that I competed in the 1st ever Warrior Games fills me with a sense of pride that I can’t begin to describe. I am one of 50 Marines who were picked to be part of this team and it is something I will never forget,” Tarkett shared via email.

 

Cpl. Tarkett was on foot patrol in Afghanistan last August when an Improvised Explosive Device, or IED, detonated.

 

“My eye surgery is scheduled for June 14th, so we will see what happens, and still awaiting a date for ear surgery,” he said. He’s currently receiving treatment at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.

 

“One team”
Cpl. Tarkett said he was inspired by the troops around him.

 

“I have met guys from all over the Marine Corps, and it’s nice to see so many of my brothers working to stay active. You have a little bit of everything on the Marine Corps Team, from double-amputees, to guys with cancer, to guys with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury),” he wrote during game week.

 

“It’s really great to see everyone come together for a common goal, and that’s winning the final medal count and having the bragging rights! Its really great to see that even after a hard fought game of sit-down volleyball, once that final whistle is blown, the fans and players come together, no matter who they were cheering for or who won, and shake hands; because, at the end of the day, we are all one team fighting for our nation’s freedom!” he said.

 

“It was unreal to see all these guys from all the services doing such great things. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but it made me look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘You may have your bad days but you could always be worse off.’

 

“Seeing some of the things that these guys have overcome is really moving, its clear that as Marines, whatever they are going through is just another challenge for them to work hard to overcome,” he said.

 

“The throwers on the Marine team really like to talk trash to each other, but you know at the end of the day we are on the same team and are just pushing each other in the direction of a gold medal,” he added.

 

When it came to training, Tarkett says his girlfriend was a “big motivator.”

 

“She forced me to get off my butt and throw. If I wasn’t throwing she could tell. I couldn’t pull the wool over her eyes, and she would always give me ‘the look,’ so really it’s because of her I made it here and did so well,” Tarkett said.

 

Asked who else inspires him, Tarkett said, “My fallen friend, Cpl. Matthew Lembke of 2/3 (2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines) Snipers of Tualatin, Oregon. I wear a reminder around my right wrist of him at all times, plus I had a friend bring me down a University of Oregon hoodie, since he was a huge fan of them; I wore both on the day I threw for the gold!”

 

Cpl. Tarkett eared a Gold medal in shotput, having thrown the shotput 47 feet.

 

“As a team, we also won the Commander’s Cup, which means we had the highest medal count and were the best service!” he said.

 

Whether on the battlefield or the playing field, the troops keep going. As to where he goes from here, Cpl. Tarkett said he’s being put in contact “with some world class coaches on the East Coast so I can defend my gold.”