MCAS Beaufort, S.C. -- Military service members get deployed constantly to places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of them return with a few bruises and scratches. Some are not as fortunate. They return with severe injuries: cuts, broken limbs or even no limbs. How could you expect them to find a way to do any kind of activities they enjoyed, such as hunting? Some citizens of Texas do not seem to think that being injured should stop service members from enjoying themselves.
Show of Support Military Hunt Inc. held its fifth Hunt for Heroes event Nov. 19-24 in Midland, Texas, and in San Angelo, Texas, for retired and active duty veterans who were injured while in combat. Veterans submitted applications to be considered for participation with the Hunt for Heroes.
The program looks for ways to create public awareness to the outdoor sports of hunting and fishing, and to pay respect and simply say thanks to veterans.
Show of Support is a non-profitable organization that displays public support for the men and women of our military by providing outdoor opportunities to those injured in service to our country, according to the SOS website.
“We hold this event to highlight the veterans’ service and sacrifice they displayed,” said Carolyn Hatcher, the director of operations for SOS Military Hunt Inc. “We want to show the veterans that we haven’t forgotten them, and that we are proud for their contribution to our country.”
Terry Johnson, the founder for the Hunt for Heroes, began this event five years ago with one Marine and one soldier, Hatcher said. After the first two service members, the numbers have increased to 12, 24, 44 and 50 over the following years. The 100th member was acknowledged at this year’s banquet.
“This year, there were 26 members that attended with their wives,” Hatcher said. “We have had 136 veterans go through this program.”
Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Bogart, the explosive ordnance disposal operations chief on the Air Station, is still an active duty Marine but has been injured while serving overseas. He was one of the Marines invited to this year’s event.
“Show of Support called me and told me they would cover everything from the plane tickets, to the hotel and all the gear that was needed for the trip,” Bogart said. “All I had to bring was my wife and myself.”
During their time at the hunting ranch, the service members received everything to full sets of hunting attire to a new weapon and binoculars. In addition, the spouses were treated to police-escorted limousine rides, shopping sprees, elaborated gifts and more.
Bogart stated that he had never seen anything like what he experienced from the people of Texas while he was there.
“The entire event was unbelievable,” Bogart said. “The hunt was a great opportunity for pulling together veterans from all over the country. I really enjoyed going out and shooting the deer with these guys. If there is any way I can assist in the future, I am all for it.”
Chris Gill, a photographer for the event, was a part of the 2006 veterans that were with Hunt for Heroes. He returned to volunteer with SOS in assistance with this year’s event.
“My first year that I returned to help was in 2007; I was a little concerned because I thought the event was going to be a letdown, but I was shown the complete opposite” Gill said. “Coming back the following year, I felt it was more beneficial to me because I knew how the veterans felt. Words can’t even describe my feeling seeing these veterans.
“Some of these guys are hunting for the first time in their lives,” Gill continued. “For some of them, this was the first time that they were able to shoot at something and not worry about someone shooting back at them.”