Helping hands deliver successful Wounded Warrior hunt
Spc. Melissa Balderson and her husband, AW2 Soldier Spc. Chris Borghi (far right) pose with Letterkenny volunteer Scott Mackey (center) with Balderson's harvest.

Chambersburg, Pa. -- Letterkenny Army Depot held its 13th Army Wounded Warrior (AW2) hunt for wounded Soldiers from Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Six AW2 Soldiers participated in the antlerless deer hunt. Three Soldiers and the wife of one of the participants were successful during the hunt. Spc. Lyle Yantz, Spc. Zachory Schick, and Staff Sgt. John Ragan, as well as the wife of AW2 Soldier Spc. Chris Borghi, Spc. Melissa Balderson, each harvested a deer.

Craig Kindlin, Letterkenny Natural Resources Manager, has been operating the program since its inception in 2007 and calls it a chance for wounded Soldiers to get away from their rigorous schedules of recovery.

"This hunt gives Soldiers an opportunity to get out of the hospital and the rigors of physical therapy and doctor appointments and just get away from city life to enjoy nature," said Kindlin.

Generally, the Soldiers that participate in the hunt have no experience in hunting and receive guidance from volunteers who also provide the proper clothing, ammunition, weapons and other necessary gear for the hunt. Three Letterkenny employees, a representative of the U.S. Army War College, and two high school students aided the Soldiers during the hunt.

The students, Nick Preso and Bradley Boggs, were using the AW2 hunt as part of a senior project at their high school, Fannett-Metal Senior High School in Willow Hill, Pa. Boggs said it was great experience for him and good for the Soldiers as well.

"The Soldier I was with, this was his first time hunting and he was ecstatic when he got a deer," said Boggs. "This program is mainly just about getting them out to enjoy a normal life; it is really just a great program for getting wounded warriors out."

Boggs intends to enlist in the Army after his high school graduation in May 2011 and said that the experiences of the Soldier he was paired with, Yantz, encouraged him to pursue his career goals in the Army.

Lindsey Waters, a Guidance Counselor at Fannett-Metal, encouraged Preso and Boggs to participate in the AW2 hunt as part of their senior project. Waters learned of the hunt through her husband, Shawn Waters, who is an AW2 hunt volunteer and LEAD employee.

"After the spring hunt last year I came over for the picnic with my husband and I just thought it was a wonderful program and I was so touched by what Letterkenny was doing," said Waters.

Students at Fannett-Metal write papers as juniors that become the basis of their senior projects and Waters found Preso and Boggs through their junior papers, who both wrote about hunting. Both the students will put in a total of 25 hours, which include a second deer hunt in December and a spring turkey hunt as well as an AW2 hunt picnic in the spring.

A variety of organizations also provided needed supplies for the hunt. Pennsylvania State Senator Richard Alloway's (R-33) office coordinated with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to ensure all AW2 Soldiers received complimentary hunting licenses and the Letterkenny Rod and Gun Club purchased the non-resident hunting license for Balderson to allow her to hunt with her husband.

Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pa., home of the U.S. Army War College, provided quarters for the Soldiers. The Letterkenny Rod and Gun Club also provided lunch for the participants and volunteers while Mountain Side Deer Processing provided complimentary meat processing for the Soldiers.

Letterkenny is the first Depot to organize an AW2 hunt that has seen the participation of 33 AW2 Soldiers and the harvest of 38 deer.

Page last updated Mon November 14th, 2011 at 00:00