Mason County welcomed twenty-two veterans on the fourteenth and fifteenth of January for the Sixth Annual Disabled Veterans and Wounded Warrior Hunt. The fine people of Mason County, along with some of our neighbors and hunters, came through in fine form, just like we always do.
The City of Mason generously offered the Eckert Civic Center for the Friday and Saturday meals, and we can only say a big thanks to Mayor Hinckley and the city staff for their assistance in this matter.
The Veterans came from three different locations this year. We regret that the five hunters from The Center for the Intrepid, or the Burn Unit, in San Antonio, were unable to participate. The weather conditions have to almost be perfect for these warriors to be allowed out of the hospital. The Paralyzed Veterans of America were again represented, and David Bradshaw from this organization along with Jose Laguna from the Veteran’s Administration, were the hunt coordinators from San Antonio. The third unit represented this year, and a first time participant, was The Warrior Transition Unit, from Fort Hood. These soldiers have completed their medical treatment, most have prosthetic limbs, several had prosthetic eyes, and several were recovering from severe wounds. Most are transitioning from military to civilian life, while some are trying to stay on active duty. The Army has job fairs, finds schooling, and cross trains into other specialties. They are not just turned out on the world. We take care of our own.
On Friday, prior to the meal, we recognized several of our local veterans. We were proud to have five veterans of World War II present: Sterling Jordan, Roy Lehmberg, Roger Luckenbach, Rae Lehmberg, and Nolan Donop. We can think of several more WWII veterans and trust they will make it next year.
The Jerry Schwartz family of Brenham, who hunt with Frances and James Toeppich at Art, prepared mountains of sirloin, sausage, and all the sides one can imagine. They tell us this is just their calling, so next year if you run into any of them, a hand shake or a hug is well deserved.
To the ladies of Mason who brought all the side dishes and desserts, we enjoyed them Friday, again on Saturday at noon, and the soldiers took some of them home to finish them off when they left. Of course, Karen and Sarah had baked about a thousand cookies so each hunter and guide had a bag of cookies to take hunting with them Friday afternoon.
Friday’s hunt wasn’t a great success, but the vets didn’t seem to mind. By the time we got to Zavala’s they were ready for the next day and even agreed that if we needed the rain, just bring it on.
After Saturday’s hunt, Joe Martinez and Donald Schulze had the usual fajita dinner with all the leftovers from the day before. We simply could not eat it all. So Mason County, again, you did yourself proud.
Even though numbers don’t mean much, the total count ended at fifteen deer and three hogs taken. Several of these deer and all of the hogs each year go to a processing service in New Braunfels. The animals are completely processed into jerky and an item much like beef sticks and donated to Brooke Army Medical Center and The Center for the Intrepid. The owner of the plant each year does this at no charge and he always donates pork to make the mix right.
You know, at a time like this, a person can only sit back and think about the support we’re getting for this project. I was looking at a DVD just Saturday of the first hunt—five total people. Then Willow Creek Wildlife stepped up and supported us with the hunting. I don’t know how we would ever have been able to do anything at the level we are now without the support of Clarence Drake and Carmeuse Industrial Sands of Brady. We’ve never solicited any support ,nor do we turn it down, so we have bank accounts at The Commercial Bank and Mason National Bank if you are so moved. We do appreciate the generous contributions we have received. And this year, we seem to be branching out more in the county, not just Willow Creek and Art. Jeff Grote, Tom Koepke, and Mike Seaquist all joined in and are ready for next year. And the VFW, with Lawrence Spell in charge, is supporting the project at every turn. Lastly, working steadfastly behind the scenes is my close friend, Stanley McGowan, who got me in this project in the first place, whose Friends of the American Warriors paid for the evening meal at Zavalas, quite an investment in itself. Then again, we can never forget the support guys from San Antonio who come every year just to be guides, movers and shakers, field dressers, and whatever we need. My hunters participate each year, and I believe Mike Seaquists’s hunters are more than impressed with the program. Finally we just couldn’t get it done without the countless hours of labor by the local task force of Taylor Slocum, Cracker Crouch, Logan Toone, and Jeremy Ramon, of Brady.
So I guess what I’m saying is, it looks like our nation is going to be in the war business for some time to come. Mason County itself has around twenty five sons and daughters in the service overseas, though not all are in combat zones. We can only pray for these servicemen and women everyday, and do our best to take care of them in our small way when they come home. And like I’ve said before, this is a good thing. If you’ve not experienced it, you’ve missed a good thing.