MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Jan. 22) -- Men of the outdoors gathered together with shotguns handy as they prepared to hunt ducks along Slocum Creek. Several of them walked with canes through the frigid morning air. A dusting of snow had been predicted for later in the day, but that wasn’t a worry. Ducks tend to be more active in the inclement weather anyway.
Injured service members from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg, N.C., joined in a duck hunt aboard Cherry Point Jan. 22 to help build up their confidence and promote their healing.
The event was hosted by Lissa K. Grimes, a conservation law enforcement officer aboard Cherry Point. Grimes and assorted volunteers served the Marines and Soldiers breakfast, helped them reach hunting blinds along Slocum Creek, and served lunch when the hunting concluded.
Grimes and her volunteers host two events for wounded warriors every year – duck and deer hunting.
The servicemen believe that hunting has ultimately helped them with their recovery.
“Three years ago, I could barely walk or talk,” said retired Gunnery Sgt. Shawn M. Horsely, a wounded warrior who suffered major head injuries from an improvised explosive device. “Doing all the hunts here and at Camp Lejeune made it so I could get better. It makes you feel kind of like you’re home. We’ve taken a lot of guys who are having a rough time readjusting and introduced them to the outdoors and seen them change completely. We have guys who’ll stay in bed and just rot, but then we get them outdoors hunting and fishing and they can’t stop.”
The wounded warriors recognize that Grimes and her volunteers are enablers for the healing that takes place on hunting trips. The servicemen said they appreciate everything that Grimes does for them.
“This is the third one I went to and every time there are people here to take us to our blinds, show us our positions and feed us well,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Samuel Colon from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group. He is involved with the wounded warrior project due to training and combat injuries suffered during his 23 years of service. “Everything is done for us where it’s hard for us to do it on our own. It’s so touching that people go out of their way and do this for us.”
Grimes, a former Marine as well as a conservation law enforcement officer, believes that it’s impossible to do enough to repay the wounded warriors. According to her, it’s awful to think about how those service members are sitting around their barracks, doing nothing, and she does all she can to help them get out and enjoy the outdoors.