Texas RMEF chapters take wounded warriors hunting
by Tony Arnold, Texas State Co-Chairman and South Texas Chapter Co-Chair
On October 26 and 27, the Texas chapters of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Troy Smith Ranch near Mountain Home, Texas, hosted six wounded soldiers on a two-day hunt. Cool nights, hot days and a full moon created less-than-ideal hunting conditions, but the recovering soldiers killed five free-ranging axis deer and one wild pig.
The soldiers were from Brook Army Medical Center, (BAMC) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Four of them hunted from blinds and two others stalked or still-hunted. Elk Foundation volunteers Jerry Perkins, David Zapata and Dwayne Smith guided the still-hunters. Life members Tony Arnold and Michael Gookins, Texas regional director, assisted the soldiers hunting out of blinds.
The first evening, SSG Jose “Joe” Ramos killed an axis doe. Wounded 20 months ago in Afghanistan, Ramos has recovered enough to be assigned to a support unit at Fort Sam Houston, where he spends his duty days helping other recovering soldiers.
The soldiers were treated to dinner at the Smith Ranch, prepared by sponsor member Cynthia Arnold, followed with a good night’s sleep at the Hunters House Inn in Ingram.
The next morning specialist Jeremy Walsh killed a wild pig while still-hunting. He had been wounded in Iraq five months earlier and is continuing his recovery at BAMC. Specialist Donald “DJ” Redden, who was wounded in an accident two years ago in South Korea, took a spike buck. Recovered enough to be assigned to a support unit, DJ now aids other wounded soldiers.
On that final afternoon, specialist Redden and his father-in-law Jeff Rogers were in the right blind at the right time, and each killed a buck. Later, SSG Ramos killed another axis deer, this time a buck. Bernhard Meat Processing donated much of the cost of processing.
Specialist Richard Meyer, SSG Jamie Pistole and SSG Jason March all saw good whitetail bucks but no exotic game. Specialist Meyer had been wounded in Iraq 29 months earlier. Though he had hoped to return to his Army career, he recently received a medical discharge. Wounded eight months ago in Iraq, SSG Pistole continues his recovery at BAMC. SSG March was wounded 26 months ago in Iraq and is still recovering. Despite severe injuries and long recoveries, these soldiers maintain a positive and cheerful outlook on life. As they left, specialist Redden commented that the hunt was “the best therapy we could possibly receive.”
We wish all of these fine young men a continued recovery and the best in the future. Their service to country, and their dedication and sacrifice are an inspiration.