By Vince Little, The BayonetJune 11, 2010
FORT BENNING, Ga. - Maneuver Captains Career Course students used the game of golf to reach out to a group of wounded warriors June 8.
Fifty-four captains covered the $27 entry fee for 15 Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers in a four-player scramble at the Fort Benning Golf Course.
Each team included a WTB Soldier, and the rules weren't as rigid as most tournaments - the automatic two-putt rule was in effect and teams couldn't make higher than bogey. But this event was about more than the scorecard.
"It was supposed to be fun, not highly competitive," said CPT Keith Benedict, who organized the student initiative with CPT Ramon Ramos. "It's not about the golf. That's not the intent. The intent is to have a good time. We appreciate the sacrifices of our wounded brothers.
"The purpose is just bringing the two groups together ... It's the first one we've done like this. Maybe a future class will continue this kind of effort."
Before the shotgun start, the players held a moment of silence for Soldiers who gave their lives.
SPC Michael Dusch left for Iraq last fall with Kelley Hill's 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team. In November, he took shrapnel in his collarbone and right knee when a roadside bomb struck his convoy. The blast also left him with seven slipped discs - four in his lower back and three in the neck - and he has struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder.
But Dusch made his way around the Patton and Bradley courses Tuesday with three MCCC teammates on a steamy afternoon - the high reached the lower 90s at Fort Benning, according to the National Weather Service.
"Any partnership with WTB is great, and especially with young officers," he said. "It's a great experience for them hanging around the (junior enlisted) and NCOs and wounded Soldiers they'll be leading. They'll get an idea of how they think."
Because of their course loads, the captains don't often get to see enlisted Soldiers, CPT Zach Johnson said.
"Any chance we can take to get out and see wounded Soldiers is a good thing," he said, "and smacking golf balls around on a Tuesday afternoon with friends is fun, too. Just because they're in (WTB), you don't want them to think they're forgotten."
1SG Zachary Mitchell, a company first sergeant at WTB, praised MCCC for getting involved with the wounded warriors.
"This is better than PT to them because they actually get to do something they like and they're getting some physical conditioning out of it," Mitchell said.
SGM Claudette Reese, dealing with neck and shoulder injuries, said she wished more female Soldiers had turned out.
"This is just awesome," she said. "Women should just come out, because it's very therapeutic. For these guys to give up their time for us, we owe it to them to participate."
The Fort Benning Golf Course provided clubs for wounded warriors who didn't have any. It awarded prizes in contests for closest to the pin and longest drive.
"I've been in the golf management business for over 32 years, and this is the first time I've seen a group of guys do something this good for another group," said Fort Benning director of golf George Cliff.
Most of the captains were from two different MCCC classes set to graduate next month. Cadre members played, too.
"These guys are getting ready to go into company commands," Benedict said. "We thought it would be a good experience and humbling to be around those who have been in harm's way ... Wounded warriors are never forgotten, and we're all part of the same community."