When U.S. Marine Corporal Joshua Hoffman was paralyzed while serving in Iraq, he thought his days of adventure were over. A former wrestler who loved muscle cars, Hoffman rarely had downtime but after a militant shot him in the neck with a sniper bullet, Hoffman was soon relegated to a wheelchair that left him depressed and suffering from a grueling rehabilitation that took a tremendous physical and psychological toll.
However, one night Hoffman was at an American Legion fireworks show and a fellow member asked if he had ever heard about this crazy new wheelchair that had tank treads, could climb stairs and ford a stream. The news was like a ray of light and Hoffman quickly sought out Brad Soden, the inventor of the Tankchair.
This awesome machine can handle rugged hillsides, sandy beaches, snow covered roads and, with a top speed approaching 30 miles per hour, keep pace with a typical car on a city street. The electronics of the Tankchair are built by the same company that manufactures the Apache helicopter control systems so it’s no wonder this machine is more tank than chair. Some version of the Tankchair have mounts for guns, fishing reels and even a pulsing LED light that can induce nausea in onlookers.
Tankchair LLC is a family company run out of a small industrial garage in North Phoenix. The company sells, repairs and services roughly 200 Tankchairs throughout the world on an annual basis. Each Tankchair is customized to the unique needs of the buyer
The Tankchair Hoffman bought was hand-delivered by Soden and is controlled by a head array and has a ventilator on the back. It also came equipped with a Samsung Galaxy tablet and Bluetooth speaker. After six years of being unable to speak, Hoffman made his first phone call. He surprised an old U.S. Navy buddy and uttered, “Kiss my butt”.
Thanks to Soden, Hoffman and hundreds of other wounded vets and other disabled people are finding life again through the amazing capabilities of the Tankchair.