By Michael Meisberger (A.P. Hill)December 26, 2017
Every year, the garrison staff hosts Soldiers from the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit to visit Fort A.P. Hill for a deer hunt.
Andrew Satterwhite, army biologist and wounded warrior hunt guide lamented, "I have had the privilege of assisting with the hunt for several years. Hunting has become quite the tradition on Fort A.P. Hill over the years and the wounded warrior hunt is part of that rich history."
"The hunting program is a vital tool for public outreach and natural resource management on Fort A.P. Hill. The wounded warrior hunt is great opportunity for the warriors to get away from their everyday routines. Spending time out in the field and hanging around the lodge is a great way to escape." Satterwhite said.
The hunt on the installation's expansive training grounds was held Dec. 7 - 10 and was a tremendous success with eight wounded warriors harvesting 16 deer. A.P. Hill range operations officer, Lance Didlake, managed the event from day one until the last warrior left post with a cooler full of venison.
SFC (R) Christopher Chavez summed up his experience, "Thank you for a great weekend… It is wonderful to find people who are willing to help support wounded warriors. Also, thank you for welcoming Avery (Service Dog). Without organizations like this and him (Avery), Veterans like me would be lost."
Fort A.P. Hill is known for being one of the best Regional Training Centers within the Department of Defense, providing affordable, innovative, flexible, and relevant training enablers in order to support Army, Joint and Interagency Readiness. The Garrison Commander usually opens the 76,000 acre installation for a four day wounded warrior deer hunt, yearly, in the month of December.
NCO in charge, SSG Stephen Wilfong wrote in his thank you letter to Fort A.P. Hill's Command Sgt. Maj. Robert L. Parker,
"I wanted to express my gratitude for an amazing experience this past weekend. All the Soldiers had a great time and benefited from the event.
Unbeknown to many, one of the soldiers was having a very difficult time emotionally prior to the event, very depressed and feeling isolated. That Soldier opened up about his feelings one evening and went on to express how the trip inspired and rejuvenated him; he is all smiles now.
Another Soldier was concerned with a surgery he would be having on Monday, well needless to say he all but forgot about the pending surgery and enjoyed every moment he had while at Fort AP Hill.
I am certain there are many stories from over the years but these are only two that I had the honor of witnessing. I was overwhelmed by the staff and volunteers that made the stay so special. Everyone was professional, compassionate, humble and generous."
A. P. Hill Garrison Commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Q. Jordan, said he appreciated the behind-the-scene efforts of the Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation directorate who provided the support team members and use of the garrison's new Hilltop cabins, cookers, and meals for the hunters.
F&MWR Marketing Manager Anna Burke and event coordinator thanked the event sponsors, "We had a phenomenal event over the weekend. More than half of our Wounded Warriors had never hunted before, and they all left the event with a successful hunt that produced full hearts and coolers! They were all thrilled with the experience!"
Jordan also thanked the involved garrison staff email for their diligent work, "The hunt was a great success and provided a much needed opportunity for these Wounded Warriors to escape to the woods and have a great time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your commitment to this program and to our wounded warriors."