By Adrienne BrownFebruary 11, 2013
RED RIVER ARMY DEPOT, Texas (Feb. 11, 2013) -- Twenty-eight wounded warriors spent the weekend hunting in the woods of Elliott Lake at Red River Army Depot, Dec. 14-16.
Warriors traveled from Fort Polk, La., Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Hood, Texas, for the third-annual Wounded Warrior Heroes Hunt.
Sponsored and organized the Land Management Branch at Red River Army Depot, or RRAD, and the depot's Rod and Gun Club, the weekend hunting trip provided wounded warriors a chance to break away from daily life and enjoy the great outdoors.
"We hope each year that this hunt gives our warriors a chance to relax and interact with other people," said Scott Van Zile, co-coordinator for the hunt. "We spend the weekend making sure that these men have fun and get time away from any situations."
Warriors began the weekend by getting settled into lodging accommodations provided by RRAD's Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Following lunch, provided by Subway, the warriors were paired with guides and began weapon familiarization. During the first hunt, one buck was harvested. Later Friday evening, warriors enjoyed dinner provided by Outback Steakhouse.
"The provided guides to each wounded warrior and the areas provided for each of us was outstanding," said Maj. Jesus S. Velasco, Fort Bliss wounded warrior. "As a first time hunter, it gave me a glimpse of what hunting is about. It's not necessarily the kill, but the comradeship, the friendship and the stories told by all."
Saturday morning began with breakfast provided the Rod and Gun Club. Volunteers helped to prepare and serve each meal throughout the weekend.
"The level of participation was significantly higher this year," said Van Zile. "We always get more volunteers than we need, but we never turn anyone away who is willing to help and give back to these heroes."
Following breakfast, warriors and guides traveled to their various areas to begin one of two hunts for the day.
"Saturday morning hunting conditions were rainy but due to the all weather blinds, each hunter was able to hunt in dry, comfortable conditions," said Mike Foster, co-coordinator for the hunting event. The blinds were provided by the Rod and Gun Club. Despite weather conditions, the Saturday morning hunt proved to be successful with one buck harvested.
After lunch weather conditions improved and two deer were harvested. Saturday dinner was catered by Big Jakes Barbeque.
The final day of the hunt weekend began with breakfast provided by The Downtowner Restaurant. Shirley's Restaurant provided lunch with McAlister's and Starbucks contributing drinks for the day.
"We (RRAD Hunt office and Rod and Gun Club) truly appreciate all the volunteers and sponsors for the Wounded Warrior Hunt," said Foster. "Without your support, the event would not be this successful."
Before departing the depot, warriors were asked to fill out a quick survey. Many were pleased with the food and thought it was a great experience.
"I most enjoyed getting out the barracks and getting a chance to relax while enjoying the great outdoors," anonymously wrote one warrior. "It was an amazing opportunity."
Another warrior wrote, "I would like to thank everyone for their help. It is your generosity that makes us feel like we are respected and appreciated."
Hunters who did not harvest anything during the weekend were given approximately 15 pounds of deer meat. Meat was furnished by several people including RRAD Commander Col. Doyle Lassitter.
Plans for the next Wounded Warrior Heroes Hunt are already underway.
"We always want it to be bigger and better each year," said Van Zile. "These warriors deserve our best."
RRAD also sponsors an annual Youth Hunt for Watersprings Ranch, a long-term residential home for children.