By Ms. Brittany Bartholomew (AMC)November 17, 2010
MILAN, Tenn. - Over the Halloween weekend, Milan Army Ammunition Plant hosted the Wounded Warrior Hunt. This event is one of many put on by the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to disabled Soldiers. Through this project, disabled Soldiers from all branches of the armed forces have the opportunity to participate in activities to promote mental and physical wellness.
MLAAP's hunting event, which began on October 29 and continued through October 31, brought injured Soldiers and volunteer hunter guides together for a deer hunt on the plant. To kick-off the Wounded Warrior Weekend, Soldiers met with their guides at a meet-and-greet in the plant's main office building on Oct 29. Attendees shared laughs and tears as each Soldier stood to tell his or her battle story of deployment, injury, illness, and struggle. The guides honored the Soldiers with their testimonials of appreciation for our warfighters, referring to them as "heroes."
"For all that these people have done for me, it [is] an honor to help give something back," Steven Cardwell, a volunteer guide and avid hunter, explained. Likewise, the wounded warriors expressed their mutual appreciation for the guides, referring to the volunteers as "heroes" as well. Many Soldiers, referring to the hunting grounds, exclaimed that they were very excited to "get out there."
Early Saturday morning, Soldiers, guides, and volunteer workers gathered outside the office building once more for a quick breakfast before the hunters set-out for the hunt. The hunt lasted more than 12 hours as Soldiers and guides harvested numerous deer throughout the day. Steve Stephenson, forrester for the Army Milan staff, weighed-in seven deer on the first day.
After the first long day of hunting, the Soldiers, their guides, other volunteers, and guests gathered at the University of Tennessee Agricultural Research & Education Center at Milan for a banquet in honor of the wounded warriors.
Milan AAP Commander Lt. Col. Maria Eoff spoke to the group, recognizing the many sponsors and volunteers who supported the event. After a hearty meal, compliments of Milan's own Northside Market, Eoff presented each Soldier/guide team with personalized certificates listing the duo's biographical information along with a photograph of the team's members.
Ron Neff, Risk Management Division Chief for the Army staff, drew tickets for special door prizes which were donated by local businesses. The prizes included hunting gear and apparel, as well as two guns and even a GPS device. As a finale to the fun and fellowship, Sgt. 1st Class Ronnie Gullion presented signed plaques to the key players in making the weekend a success, and he gave special battalion dog tags to all attendees at the banquet.
The second round of successful hunting began Sunday morning as the Soldiers and guides trooped out over the plant for one last "Hooah." Soldiers scored at least three more kills during that second day. After several hours of tracking, shooting, and harvesting, the group, now a group of close comrades, exchanged heartfelt thanks and farewells before returning to their respective homes.