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Pfc. Kyle D. Alders, a scout with Charlie Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, rolls dice while relaxing between missions at Camp Korean Village, Iraq, May 23. The 19-year-old from West Palm Beach, Fla., assisted the worldâ??s blind community by taking part in the invention of a device known as the PAC-MATE. When Alders is not patrolling the desert with Charlie Co., he is often found doing card tricks or playing board games.

Photo by Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson

Marine is more than meets the eye

23 May 2008 | Cpl. Ryan Tomlinson 1st Marine Division

In the middle of the Iraqi desert, there is a Marine who helped create a device that would affect approximately 40 million people worldwide.

Pfc. Kyle D. Alders, 19, a scout with Charlie Company, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, assisted the members of the world’s blind community by taking part in the invention of a device that makes their lives easier.

“It gave me a sense of pride to know I could help the blind be able to complete things on their own without assistance from others,” said Alders.

The creative young infantryman from West Palm Beach, Fla., became part of the project before his 16th birthday. His grandfather, Brad Davis, became a technician for a corporation that specialized in technology for the blind. One day, Alder’s grandfather brought home a new device called the PAC-MATE, which would change the course of Alders’ life.  It changed him from a young man who scored near perfect on the Scholastic Aptitude Test into a successful inventor.

The PAC-MATE is a handheld device used by the blind to type e-mails, read books and scan items. Additionally, because it uses a Global Positioning Device, the PAC-MATE can provide the blind with directions. When his grandfather brought the device home from work, Alders pointed out flaws and suggested solutions.

“The first thing I suggested was the scanning system, and then I suggested an eight-button keyboard with braille lettering,” said Alders. “Originally, I was just interested in it because I wanted to help. I made a couple of suggestions and it became one of the top-ten-used technologies by the blind.”

Alders worked on other projects with the corporation to help the blind until graduating high school and joining the Marine Corps in the summer of 2007 out of his love to serve others.

“I love being in the Marine Corps and enjoy the guys I work with,” he said. “I have a sense of helping people out.  I know whenever they need someone to deploy, I will always volunteer.”

Alders is currently serving his first tour in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since deploying, he has enjoyed every moment to its fullest.

“Alders is a reliable Marine. I know that if I need him to take care of something, it’s going to get done with him around,” said Lance Cpl. Allen A. Janis, 21, a scout team leader from Foster, R.I., with Charlie Company. “He’s a smart kid, and I’m glad I was able to get to know him.”

When not patrolling through the western Al Anbar province, Alders can always be found with a deck of cards in his hand practicing card tricks or the next group to defeat in a game of spades.

Alders  plans to leave the Marine Corps someday and study psychology in college.   He also has dreams of opening his own restaurant.

“I’m a type of guy that when I like something, I overkill it,” said Alders. “You only live once and enjoy the small things once.”

1st Marine Division