Semper Gratus!

Be Grateful You’re an American!

December 4, 2006

The Golf Post

by @ 9:34 pm. Filed under Milblogging, Troop Support, True Heroes, Walter Reed

Olney Golf Park was supposed to host this event on October 7, but because of impending inclement weather it was postponed until the 14th. The weather couldn’t have been better! Unfortunately, I think a lot of people missed the fund raiser because of the change in schedule.

My contact, Sgt. Mark Kreisher, was in New York for the whole weekend fullfilling obligations that couldn’t be cancelled. So I went alone, knowing no one, feeling intimidated and out of place and then … DOGS!!!!!

Giovanni
Giovanni

18 mo. old Hank
18 month old Hank

Cordie Mae
Beautiful Burmese Cordelia-Mae

Rocky
Cute little Rocky

Callaway, Hogan and Clementine
Corgis Callaway, Hogan and Clementine

Not just any dogs, but People Animals Love (PAL) pets! The furry gang is part of a group that also visits the wards at Walter Reed. Joe Cavarreta is the Executive Director of PAL, and “Rocky’s” Dad. Laurie Collins, “Tori’s” Mom, gave an introductory speech describing the organization’s mission and how they love going to WR. She’s gotten to know many of the wounded warriors and which dogs are their favorites. She makes a schedule ahead of time so she can make sure each soldier gets to have a visit with the “right” dog. What a nice lady she is!!!

Next to speak to the audience was Jim Estes, one of the golf Pros who has been very involved in the event and with assisting and teaching the wounded vets how to play. He’s also the corgis Dad. The corgis aren’t PAL dogs, but they are one of my favorite breeds!

Anyhoo, Jim introduced SSG Gary Jackson of the VT National Guard and current “Prisoner of Walter Reed.”

Gary and Jim
SSG Gary Jackson and Golf Pro Jim Estes

Gary’s a great public speaker! He likes telling stories and relating his experiences and using them to motivate others.

Gary was wounded by mortar fire inside a bunker in camp. It seems the mujahadeen had spotters working inside who were directing fire onto his position which took a total of 13 rounds. It left 2 KIA and 3 severely wounded, including Gary. The lower part of his left leg was in bad shape but the medic chose not to use a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding. Gary credits this insight as the reason he’s not using a prosthetic today. I don’t understand the medical reasons, but I believe him!

21 surgeries later, he’s missing 10 inches of his shin bone but he’s walking. 12 surgeries were performed on his eyes, but the left one still has no sight.

Side note: one of the first soldiers I met at Walter Reed was SPC Ben Perez, who was sent as part of the VT National Guard to replace Gary.

Gary prepares a shot
Gary lines up a shot

Gary credits the pros at Olney Golf Park with giving him a wonderful tool to aid in his recovery. Learning the mechanics of the game has helped with learning to balance on his wobbly leg and depth perception using one eye. Another very important benefit is that it got him out in public and interacting with people outside the hospital and family. This sentiment was echoed by Sgt. Mark Kriesher through whom I learned of this program.

Jim and Cpt  Walton
Jim explaining something about a club to Capt. Lionell Walton.

One story Gary told was of the time Snoop Dog came to Ward 57. You’d think a major star like Snoop would have a big crew in tow along with some fawning reporters, but just the opposite happened. No entorage, no media, just this regular guy who talked to the wounded and their families as if he were a nobody. Snoop spent about 10 minutes talking to Gary’s wife, consoling her and recognizing the tough times she was facing. Everyone on the ward was very impressed with Snoop. Whodathunkit? Thanks Snoop!

Capt and SSG
Capt. Walton and SSG Jackson working on their swings.

Big swing!
These guys can hit!

Gary and vets
Some of the vets

Upper deck
The upper deck of the facility

Some of the donations for auction

This is the end of the table that contained the donations that were auctioned. There’s a certain fleece blanket with a familiar USMC logo that went home in my car.

When I asked before leaving how much they thought they had made, the Pro said $4 to $5K, but looking at the web site (Olneygolfpark.com) it says they made $9,000! The money raised will be used to purchase complete sets of clubs and bags to be GIVEN to the wounded warriors who show a real interest in the sport.

Any wounded vet can get free lessons and all the tee time they want at the park. Mark tells me that it doesn’t matter what the disability is — the pros will find a way to get him/her swinging a club at a ball! It was great to find another local business here in the People’s Republic of Maryland that actually supports the troops in such a grand way.

Thank You Olney Golf Park!

Mark won’t be there to use all the free stuff and lessons ’cause HE’S FINALLY HOME!!! I know he’s picked out a course that will be seeing a lot of him in the coming years!

14 Responses to “The Golf Post”

  1. Leta Says:

    NICELY done. Well worth the wait. A fantatic story that I’m glad you FINALLY shared. Guess like wine and you – many things are better as they AGE! 🙂

  2. Agnieszka O. Says:

    Great story about great cause! And dogs – therapy dogs visiting WR is amazing news.

  3. Bridget Says:

    Thanks for sharing the great pics and story…finally!!
    Love those therapy dogs!

  4. Sammy D Says:

    Thanks !!!! For the great story – well told!! – and for going even though you initially felt out of your element. Another inspiring accomplishment for our troops. YaHoo

  5. Donna, Los Osos, CA Says:

    I know how you felt. What a great experience! Aren’t these guys amazing?! They try anything.

    Missed you. Glad to see your post.
    Semper gratus!

  6. Mary*Ann Says:

    Heroes and dogs…what more could a girl want?

  7. Mrs. Diva Says:

    What a wonderful post!!! And yup…DOGS! What better way to feel more at home?

  8. jim b Says:

    You are never out of place GN.

    All dogs go to heaven.

    Thank God for Troop Support like this.

  9. Sssteve Says:

    GN, great post! Dogs and Golfing!! What more could a guy want! HA! well, I could come up with another but this is a PG blog! HA!

    btw, probably won’t make it out till Jan. The trip got postponed.

  10. Karen I Says:

    Wang was right. You were working on the golf story. We are so happy. It has everything, stars(troops,a famous photographer, volunteers, dogs, Snoop), a hero homecoming,and prizes. Thank you. We are speechless!

  11. Vin Wang the Second Says:

    Terrific post, GunnNutt. My cousin (Diesel IV) thought it was great too!

  12. billf Says:

    I’m glad to see you’re finally back putting great stories to print. See Ya at Sue’s!!!

  13. jim b Says:

    Merry Christmas GN. Thanks for all you do.

  14. SSG Gary Jackson Says:

    Well imagine my shock to see myself on some web site. Thank you for your kind words about what I had to say. I remember this day well and is one of my favorite memories of being in the DC area. I just wanted to say thank you for what you said about me and reminding me of a happy day. SSG Gary M. Jackson (Ret)

    No, THANK YOU SSG Jackson! –GN

Leave a Reply

[powered by WordPress.]

Support n. To act in a secondary or subordinate role to (a leading performer).

junkie n. Slang One who has an insatiable interest or devotion.

AnySoldier.com proper name. A site where Support Junkies get their fix.

AnySoldierNoBack.gif

Changing the world, starting with Kosovo

ptp_logo.gif

Get Firefox!

internal links:

categories:

search blog:

archives:

December 2006
S M T W T F S
« Nov   Jan »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Techonorati

other:

Tribes. "I am not a wolf. I have never harmed a person in my life. But I am not a sheep, either. I know these forces are out there, and wishing it were not so will not only not make them go away – it will rob me of my chance to kick their ass when they show up."
Bill Whittle

Tribute

Special Events!

Warrior Support

Intel

Milblogs

Good Guys

Politics

recently abandoned

TTLB

Dead Terrorists since al-Zarqawi assumed room temperature - 06/07/06

38 queries. 0.415 seconds