Barksdale Air Force Base, LA — Six wounded Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians from across the military branches, recently enjoyed a weekend of camaraderie and hunting November 1-3 at Barksdale Air Force Base.
The Barksdale Wounded Warrior Hunt was organized for the second year by Bill Lee, Barksdale Wounded Warrior Association event coordinator, his team and several volunteers and sponsors.
"There's something healing about being outside," said Lee. "With all the hours these guys have spent in hospitals recovering, the therapies and clinics, this gives them an opportunity to get outside of the norm. There's nothing like seeing the sun rise in the woods and this hunt gives them a place for solitude and reflection."
A dinner banquet was held in honor of the EOD technicians the night before the hunt. Attendees included: Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, Col. Andrew Gebara, 2nd Bomb Wing commander, and other Team Barksdale and local community members.
"They get to tell their story and see how much their sacrifice is appreciated," said Lee.
Adam Popp, a medically retired Air Force technical sergeant who lost his right leg above the knee and sustained several other injuries from an improvised explosive device, joined the five other men on the hunt where they hoped to bring back deer and hog.
"Trips like this are important for us to get away from our daily routine," said Popp, who is also the EOD Warrior Foundation director. "It's an alternate form of rehabilitation and seeing the smiles on the guys' faces is really rewarding."
The men were joined throughout the weekend by members of the base Natural Resources office and the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron EOD Airmen and leadership.
"It's good to be able to hang out with EOD again, both those who were injured and those who are still active duty," said Tech. Sgt. Reese Hines, one of the wounded warriors who was injured when an IED blew up in his face. "It's a bit of normalcy again, to enjoy the common camaraderie and to enjoy what life has to offer."
Though only a few deer were brought back from the hunt at the end of the weekend, the men were thankful for the chance.
"We're grateful for the generous people who put this all together," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Gorsuch, wounded warrior. "This weekend allowed us to reconnect with people we haven't seen in awhile and get out and extend ourselves and do things we used to do before we were injured. This is definitely a part of the healing process. The thrill of the hunt is awesome, but being outdoors in nature with some great guys is what we're thankful for."