Wounded warrior "shoots some birds" in Iowa
March 26, 2013
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill.--Cpl. Quinton Picone, of Panola, Okla., spent a long weekend in Iowa recently, doing one of the things he likes to do best: hunting.
Picone's trip happened in a roundabout way, as many things do. And a total stranger got the ball rolling.
Col. Joseph Tirone, chief of staff at Rock Island Arsenal's Joint Munitions Command is a hunter too and has been active for the last ten years helping to promote challenged outdoorsmen activities. When some of Tyrone's avid hunter friends invited him to the First Annual Veterans and Active Duty Military Pheasant Hunt at BeckRidge Hunting Preserve in Sabula, Iowa, he readily accepted, and promptly asked if he could bring a Wounded Warrior along.
Tirone had heard of Picone, the son of Vincent and Sherry Picone, who work at JMC's McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Okla. Tirone knew that Picone had shot a nine-point buck last fall at a Wounded Warriors in Action controlled deer hunt at MCAAP. When Tirone invited Picone to come to Iowa "to shoot some birds," Picone accepted, and the trip was on.
Pheasants Forever, which hosted the event, is an organization that is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.
Some fellow hunters and others heard that Picone was planning to attend the pheasant hunt and offered to pay for his air flight. In addition, they pitched in and surprised Picone with a shotgun, hard case and hunting clothing and provided ammo, range time, taxidermy and special equipment, free of charge.
The day before the hunt, during breakfast at Tirone's home, where he stayed, Picone related his background.
"I grew up in Panola, a really small town near McAlester, Okla. Only 16 kids were in my high school graduating class," said Picone, who took his senior picture sporting a mohawk, despite his mom's pleas to cut it for the picture.
"I joined the Army as a Soldier with the Tenth Mountain Division, Third Brigade, 71st Calvary, 11B infantrymen. For about nine months, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, I worked on dismounted patrol, detecting buried mines. In November 2011, I stepped on an undetected mine," said Picone.
In the mine blast, Picone lost both of his lower legs. He started the road to recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he spent a month, before moving on to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He hopes to finish up there and be released by September 2013.
In the last few months, he has taken up hunting deer, javelina, duck and pheasant.
"He is an incredible young Soldier," said Tirone. "Despite having lost both of his legs above the knees, he not only wanted to swim with me in the mornings, but insisted on walking as much as he could through the mud, ice and uneven fields during the hunt. Even while falling numerous times in the mud and ice, he got right back up every time with a smile on his face and insisted on walking when he could."
Maneuvering during the hunt using a wheelchair and prosthetic legs, Picone shot several pheasant, which supplied dinner for the evening.
"We celebrated his third year in the Army Saturday night with BBQ pheasant," said Tirone. "During our down time, he repeatedly told me that once he is medically discharged in five to seven months, all he wants to do is to continue to serve his country. My kind of hero!"
As of now, Picone isn't sure how he'll serve, but he does know he'd like to move back to the McAlester area. He wants to live near his parents and three younger sisters in the community where he grew up.
"I want to live in my own home though, be independent," said Picone. "I want to work full-time and my tribe, the Choctaw, might be able to help me find a job in a tribal-owned business. And I want to take classes part-time, possibly for a Business degree."
For now, while finishing up his rehab at Brooke, Picone's days start with a swim and formation, then a variety of physical therapy classes that fill up the rest of the day.
Picone has been working hard in PT to get ready to compete in the Wounded Warrior regional games in April in Texas. Like icing on a cake, Picone just received the good news that he has qualified for the national Wounded Warrior games in May in Colorado, where he'll compete in swimming and archery.