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Outdoors beckons for Wounded Warriors
SoVaNow.com / October 07, 2013Some 60 military veterans enjoyed fellowship and friendly sporting competition at the Cove Friday as the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation hosted its annual American Heroes event.
An outgrowth of the Wounded Warriors project, the day is for members of the Armed Services who have suffered major injuries during their military service.
Buffalo Junction veteran William Cox enjoyed the activities.
“It’s good. It builds friendships, and we meet new people. Just good fun for everybody,” said Cox.
Cox is currently drilling out of the National Guard Armory in South Boston. He originally enlisted as a military policeman, and now he’s going for his third stint as a mechanic. The 22-year-old is assigned to the Army National Guard.
Cox throughly enjoyed the activities, especially the fishing competition.
The southside Virginia resident felt right at home in the Cove, pursuing some of the kinds of outdoor activities he’s enjoyed all of his life.
Cox noted, “as far as catfishing, if you’re going to go for the biggest fish, they love the fish (guts) and the nasty stuff.”
He’s involved in mechanical support for Army infantry units.
Another military personnel service member, Orrey Lloyd, from Crewe, joined the Army in 2010, right out of high school. Lloyd went to Ft. Knox, Ky., for basic training and then Aberdeen, Md. for expanded mechanical training.
He now serves at Ft. Pickett.
Lloyd was all too happy to join his fellow military service members at the Southside Wildlife management area.
“It’s kind of nice, people out there recognize what we do, for making our sacrifices. It’s good to get together with all the guys that have the same beliefs that I do, protecting this country, willing to give up our lives for this country,” said Lloyd, who has a new sense of brotherhood from his time in the Army.
Lloyd loves to hunt duck and deer, and he was right on target with the shooting competition.
“Pickett’s full of duck and deer. Anything that starts with a D, I love killing them,” he said.
Burton was on hand to greet the veterans and lead a team of volunteers in the day’s activities.
The 2002 NASCAR Daytona 500 winner and former Sprint Cup regular said, “Each event gets better for us, and it’s because the people and friends that spent a lot of time putting these events on. We’re graced by these men and women who have given so much to our country.”
Burton also remembered all the veterans and their families who continue to make sacrifices for the nation, and did so in the past. “It’s all about them,” said Burton.
The local saddle club supported the event, along with Arrowhead and Kathy Farley and her staff, Blue Ridge Beverage, Morgan Lumber Company and other volunteers and Burton family members.
U.S. Marine Corp Staff Sgt. Michael Kissiah, was on hand from the Walter Reed Medical Center to lend a hand for the event.
“Ward Burton has been an outstanding sponsor to the Wounded Warriors. This will be the fourth time I’ve come here. He has gone above and beyond what anyone could expect.
“I’ve heard nothing but great things from every wounded warrior that I’ve brought out here. They love the experience, they love getting outdoors, they love being with their peers, the different events he puts on. It’s a gracious welcome and they have nothing but kind words (for the organizers),” he said.
Another southside Virginia veteran, Joe Banks, took a break from the archery competition to express his appreciation for the outing.
Banks, who lives in Blackstone, has been in the military for 26 years. He has seen deployments to Crete and Iraq. Banks is now stationed at Ft. Pickett, and works as a platoon sergeant with the 276th Engineers.
“What (the event) is getting together with guys ... who’ve been deployed. Guys who’ve been in the military understand what you go through every day,day in and day out,” said Banks.
“It’s great,” added Banks, who had been unaware before this year of the veterans events at the Cove.
Banks is thankful for the support that current military personnel receive across America.
“When you come home, and you have people cheering for you, you don’t know how to take that, because you’re doing your job. You don’t go out there to be a hero, you just go out to do your job.
“I had an uncle who went to Korea, and he told me it was nothing like that when he came home,” said Banks. 785
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