By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterApril 13, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation improved upon its already stellar reputation of supporting wounded warriors with its Warrior Classic Hunt April 6-8.
The hunt gave wounded warriors from across the South the chance to come out and hunt turkeys and coyotes on the installation, and was designed to promote the building friendships and bonds through recreation, said John Clancy, ODR manager.
"I want to thank all of the volunteers -- we couldn't have done this without all of you," said Clancy following the hunt. "Wounded warriors, thanks a lot for all you have done for our country and what you're still going to do -- I hope for you the best."
Edwin Halsey, wounded warrior and participant, bagged his first turkey during the hunt, and managed to take first place with his prize-winning bird, which won with 58 and 1/2 points, weighing in at 17 pounds.
"It's definitely a rush," said Halsey, who served six years in the Army from 1987-1993. "I was shaking like a leaf after I shot it. We were only out for about 20 minutes this morning when I saw it. I've only hunted turkey one other time, and it was with this group here, and I bagged my first one."
Halsey was also presented a Quilt of Valor during the award ceremony April 8 by Jacquelyn McKinstry, Quilts of Valor foundation Alabama state coordinator, and Sharon Hurd, Quilts of Valor associate.
"President (Harry) Truman said in April of 1945, 'Our debt to the heroic men and women in service to our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude and America will never forget their sacrifices,'" said McKinstry as she presented the quilt. "We consider this our highest civilian award, and our mission statement is to cover all service members and veterans touched by war with healing and comforting Quilts of Valor."
Quilts of Valor is an organization that began in 2003, and since its inception has awarded 183,929 quilts to wounded warriors, said McKinstry.
"We use the word awarded because the Quilt of Valor is intended to honor our veterans for their service and sacrifice," she added.
For Halsey, being awarded the quilt was an emotional experience.
"It's touching -- I never expected anything like that," he said. "It's just a great feeling to come out and hunt with everyone, and have the support of the people who understand."
Over the years, ODR has supported wounded warriors by providing equipment and experiences, and funds raised through events like the hunts have provided numerous amenities for wounded warriors, including two hydraulic hunting stands; a track chair; a specially designed, handicap-accessible boat; and a 42-foot, wheelchair-accessible travel trailer. Under construction now is a fully handicap-accessible cabin on East Beach, Lake Tholocco.