Exton hosts Wounded Warriors during Memorial Golf Tournament
October 8, 2009
- APG golf course hosts wounded warriors
Aberdeen Proving Ground Wounded Warrior Outreach Inc. played host to 25 service members undergoing recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center during the Joseph Gray Memorial Charity Golf Tournament at Exton Golf Course Sept. 13.
Joseph Gray was a U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center contractor who died from injuries sustained during a tank fire accident earlier this year.
William Armstrong, chief of the Directorate of Emergency Services' Marine and Wildlife Division and president of the outreach group, and Bart Roberts, Marine and Wildlife officer and golf program chair, led the event.
Roberts said the outreach group was established in January and that its members and volunteers -active duty military and civilians - host various events for the hospital's service members.
"Public support for the program has been awesome," Roberts said. "We have about twenty-five volunteers out here today supporting seventeen teams of four players."
He added that past and future events for the Warriors include a tournament at the Edgewood Area's skeet and trap range in August and fishing outings with patients at the Perry Point Veterans Administration Medical Center in Perryville.
Financial supporters include the Port Deposit Veterans of Foreign Wars which donated $1,500 to the event.
Armstrong said that once the announcement was made about the tournament, club members and volunteers were eager to participate.
"We were full within days of the announcement," he said, adding his thanks to the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation golf program for its support.
"FMWR has been terrific. They've even provided support to Warriors' Family members by providing them alternate entertainment such as pool passes during their stay here," he said.
Colonel Orlando W. Ortiz, APG Garrison and deputy installation commander, and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney J. Rhoades visited with the Soldiers before the tournament got underway.
The noncommissioned officer in charge of the Wounded Warrior group was Master Sgt. Laura Paz who has been recovering at WRAMC for the past 14 months. Paz was serving with the 7th Sustainment Brigade out of Fort Eustis, Va., when she was injured in Baghdad, Iraq.
She said that community groups are always sponsoring events, trips or donating tickets for the Warriors, and when they do, it means a lot to the Soldiers.
"It really improves morale and gives us something to do with our Families," Paz said. "And sporting events test our limitations. The amputees treat them as therapy."
She said most of the Warriors started the program in April.
"So far we've met a lot of great people," she said.
Specialist Tina Li said she welcomes distractions.
"This gets me out of the barracks and keeps me from thinking about my problems," she said.
Wounded Warriors were paired with club members and guests, several of whom said the Warriors were the reason they participated.
William Fosnaught, a former Marine from Bel Air and member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #588, said he "couldn't stay away" when he heard about the tournament. He played with his wife Barbara and friend Walt Kozloski, a fellow Vietnam veteran who served with the Army's 17th Infantry.
"We play here regularly but this was a chance to honor our heroes," Fosnaught said.
"We're here because it could have been us," Kozloski added.
The widow of Joseph Gray volunteered her services at the tournament, working the registration table and running water and refreshments out to players in a golf cart.
Christina, a teacher at Bakersfield Elementary School, said her husband was an avid outdoorsman who also served in the National Guard and believed in helping his community. He was a volunteer with Wounded Warriors Outreach Inc. because he believed in that program as well, she said.
"When they asked if they could name the tournament for him, I thought volunteering to help was the least I could do," she said.
"I'm not that strong and it's day by day," she said of her adjusting to life without her husband. "But we've had wonderful support from friends and Family, and I can't thank the community enough," she said.
She said that with a 3-year-old and one on the way - their second child is due Dec. 24 - she was unable to attend events with him but that she knows he would be pleased about having the tournament named for him.
"I know he would be pleased," she said. "He was larger than life, and he was always looking to help others. I know that is how he'd like for me to go on with our children."