[Masthead] Fair ~ 81°F  
High: 97°F ~ Low: 73°F
Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014

Fort Campbell soldiers enjoy hunting, eating and healing in Dyersburg

Friday, December 14, 2012

(Photo)
Wounded Warriors, and the Forked Deer Longbeards, the Dyer County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation collaborated together to bring 10 soldiers to Dyersburg for a two-day retreat that included hunting, eating and healing. From left, Cody Garrison, Decatur, Ala., Stacie Vandrie, Union City, Tenn., Kristen Steakley, Mt. Juliet, Tenn., Bryce Dowdy, Susanville, Calif., Chris Rusack, Harrisburg, Pa., Hunter Wilke, Hopkinsville, Ky., Riley Syfrett, New Mexico, Phil Wysocki, Petersburg, Ky., Justin Richardson, Shreveport, La., Cecilio Ponce, Miami, Fla.
At the end of the "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy, the main protagonist of the film, Frodo Baggins, finds himself looking upon his beloved home, the Shire, after an epic adventure that took him away for more than a year. Baggins risked it all to save the home he loves and penned the following thoughts upon his return:

"We found ourselves looking upon a familiar sight. We were home. How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on ... when in your heart you begin to understand ... there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend... some hurts that go too deep ... that have taken hold."

After more than 11 years of fighting the war in Afghanistan and almost 10 years of fighting the war in Iraq, returning soldiers can understand Baggins' plight. More than 6,600 soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen have died in the longest sustained conflicts by an all-volunteer force. Over 50,000 have returned home with combat-sustained injuries. As the conflicts continue to enter their final phases with President Barack Obama pledging to return all forces home by 2014, the focus continues to shift to caring for soldiers returning home. This past week, the Forked Deer Longbeards, the Dyer County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation in conjunction with Wounded Warriors sponsored 10 soldiers from Fort Campbell, Ky. to come to Dyersburg for a two-day duck-hunting trip.

(Photo)
Soldiers pose for a photo with members of the Forked Deer Longbeards, the Dyer County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Dyersburg Mayor John Holden (far left). The Forked Deer Longbeards together with Wounded Warriors sponsored the soldiers' two-day trip to Dyersburg.
"A lot of these soldiers have just come back from Afghanistan," said Shane Hall, event coordinator on behalf of the Tennessee Chapter of the NWTF. "Most have injuries, some have shrapnel in their bodies; all have post-traumatic stress disorder. We provide the opportunity for the soldiers to hunt and talk. This is just therapy for them."

The soldiers arrived in Dyersburg on Tuesday, Dec. 11 and were immediately treated to Southern hospitality with the Sleep Inn offering significantly reduced accommodations followed by Lupo's Restaurant providing that evening's meal at no charge to the soldiers.

"It takes a lot of people to put on an event like this," said Hall, who has coordinated hunting trips for soldiers for the last four years.

The fun was just beginning for the soldiers, who would spend the next two mornings in a duck blind enjoying each other's company and leaving the world behind them. For the first time since Hall has been coordinating the hunting trips for soldiers, the group included two women: Stacie Vandrie of Union City, Tenn. and Kristen Steakley, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn. Together the 10 soldiers nabbed 10 ducks on the first morning and 15 the second morning. Their smiles at the end of each morning said it all.

(Photo)
Girls Scout Junior Troop 40276 sang Christmas carols favorites such as: 'Twelve Days of Christmas', 'Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer' and 'Frosty the Snowman', to the soldiers as they enjoyed dinner. From left, Sara Clifft, Elizabeth McDonald, Madelyn Webb and Bella Patton.
(Photo)
Kristen Steakley and Stacie Vandrie (sitting) are presented with gifts from Anna Moody of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The DAR cooked a traditional Southern meal for the soldiers on Wednesday, Dec. 12 as part of their two-day visit to Dyersburg.
"It makes me feel so good to see them smile," said Hall. "That's what it's all about."

The soldiers also received a traditional Southern cooked meal courtesy of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who cooked and served the soldiers meal, with the help of local sponsors: Kroger, RSVP and Neil's Barbecue. In addition, Girl Scout Junior Troop 40276 provided the evening's entertainment as they sang Christmas carols to the soldiers while they ate. The DAR and the NWTF also showered the soldiers with a variety of gifts during the meal.

Hall says that he is blessed that God gave him the wisdom and desire to coordinate events like this, but he says they would not be possible without the generosity of a lot of sponsors such as: Forked Deer Longbeards, NWTF Tennessee State Chapter, TWRA, Twin Rivers Guide Service, Tajmahal Duck Blind, Dyersburg Mayor John Holden, Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill, Dyer County Sheriff's Department, Benelli USA, Outer Limits Power Sports, Lowery's Body Shop and Wrecker Service and Drake Water Fowl.

(Photo)
Visiting soldiers participating in a hunting trip this week show off their ducks after a morning's worth of hunting on Thursday, Dec. 13. Ten soldiers were brought to Dyersburg from Fort Campbell, Ky. For a two-day duck hunting trip that included a lot of eating and healing.
This trip is particularly well-timed for two of the soldiers who are heading back to their hometowns next week. It was an opportunity for them to de-stress before trying to return to a normal life. For the rest, it was an opportunity to not have to worry about anything, even if it was for only two days.

"These trips mean a lot to the soldiers," said Hall. "They are just awesome people and are so deserving of everything that we can give them."


Comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on stategazette.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

Typical Dyersburg........ r and r for their own...

-- Posted by DMASE on Fri, Dec 14, 2012, at 11:01 AM

Great job Shane and ALL your helpers. most people do not realize all the work involved in something you folks did. GOD bless you all and GOD bless those men & women making the real sacrifice for our country!!!

-- Posted by The Watcher on Sat, Dec 15, 2012, at 7:46 AM

On behalf of my military family, thank you for all you do for military families.

-- Posted by granny2hb on Sat, Dec 15, 2012, at 6:47 PM


Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration. If you already have an account on this site, enter your username and password below. Otherwise, click here to register.

Username:

Password:  (Forgot your password?)

Your comments:
Please be respectful of others and try to stay on topic.