Panama City Beach, FL---Arnold alum Carter Hess has spent the last year and a half touring with the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball team.
Playing with the team has allowed Hess to stay active and fit coming two years after he lost his left leg below the knee to an IED serving with the Army in Afghanistan.
As a breeze helps the stars and stripes dance, as the sun sets in the horizon of his hometown, Carter Hess and the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team play on.
His teammates, all with military ties, all who've suffered on the battlefield, are now shining on the ball field in front of their opposition and audience.
"Yeah, the reaction's a little bit more surprise at first," says Hess "but after a couple innings, people start to realize we were all athletes beforehand. So it just kicks over, nobody likes to lose, so you try your hardest."
After playing baseball at Arnold, Hess wasted no time in starting a military career.
"I graduated early and went straight in the military, right to the 82nd Airborne Division." he tells us.
His time with the troops led to two deployments to Afghanistan.
"Experience was mixed" Hess says "because of pressure from unsupported and supported villages. you just don't know what to expect. You could have all day where you see a guy with a cart and a donkey and then one day you could have the worst day of your life.
For Carter, that date was June 29th, 2012.
"I stepped on a pressure plate IED." (improvised explosive device)
After going through multiple surgeries and working through months of rehab, Hess plays alongside his Warriors teammates, all using prosthetic limbs.
"I mean, I didn't specifically have softball picked out, but you gotta stay active. If you don't, you get older faster and everything like that, so, it keeps you on your foot, or feet, or however you want to say it.
Being a Warrior gives Carter the comradery he knew in the military and a chance to travel.
"We've been out to California, North Dakota, we just got back from Maine last weekend.
But as much as he enjoys seeing the country, there's nothing's like coming back to where he grew up.
"I played here since I was five or six, so being back out on these fields is just like a walk down memory lane."
The team has tournaments and appearances booked all through 2015, with Hess in fold. So for now, for this weekend, while he's back, welcome home soldier, welcome home.
The team will play out the remainder of the USSSA Military World Tournament at Frank Brown Park throughout the weekend. Their next destination is an event in Manhattan, Kansas.