Veterans honored with hunt - KLFY News 10

Veterans honored with hunt

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Five combat disabled veterans participated in an honor hunt the weekend before Thanksgiving. They returned with memories and smiles from their all-expense paid trip to Belle Island Hunting Camp in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The trip, paid Mike and Teri Poole of Sunbelt Energy and GG (Go Girl) Hunt, was originally titled "Hero Hunt." However, another organization in Maurice already had claim to that title.

"It was my mistake to call it hero hunts," said trip organizer and Vietnam Veteran Mallory Lessard. "What it actually did was it got three organizations together that are now going to work together forever."

Those three organizations included Troy Coleman's non-profit Hero Hunts, Wounded Warrior and the newly named Honor Hunt, led by Lessard. Once names were cleared, it was time to find five combat disabled veterans to participate, which Lessard said quickly proved difficult.

"These guys that we consider heroes are not going to stand up and say 'I'm the hero, pick me.'"

Coleman, who has organized similar trips before, was able collect a pool of veterans to honor with the three-day hunting trip. The veterans ranged from ages 25 to 70, each with three to five deployments from the Korean War to the Iraq War and all served with the Army. Each suffered from a disability, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, amputation and in the case of Wounded Warrior Mentor Major Barry Guidry, paralysis. An on-duty injury in 2010 left the Army Infantry officer a quadriplegic, but that didn't stop him from helping to organizing the trip or even from dropping the biggest buck.

"What we do is get these guys out there and embrace nature again which is in my opinion the biggest healer in the world," said Guidry.

From Friday to Saturday, the selected veterans and their families participated in a fallen warrior ceremony, put on by the Vietnam Veterans' of America Chapter 1058, as well as deer and duck hunts. Perhaps the biggest and most humbling experience, was the camp-fire chats among brothers in arms.

"The stories that come out of and the comradery when you get a bunch of soldiers together," began Guidry. "We tend to go down the road of some of the crazy things we did while in uniform."

While many shots were fired and the enemy targets suck as wood ducks and deer fell at the feet of these soldiers, the experience and time was the only trophy they needed.

"It wasn't the shooting of the deer it was sitting around and visiting and seeing the smiles on those guys  faces you can't put a price tag on any of that," said Guidry.

The three organizations are planning separate and group trips in the future, such as alligator and duck hunts.

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