A bird in the hand...
The smell of gun smoke already wafted through the air. However, these soldiers were not in a war zone but out hunting a different kind of target.
On this day, a trip to Grahams Turnout, just over the Bamberg County line, gave a group of wounded warriors a chance to hunt quail and pheasants and fish in the lake for a varied assortment of fish.
The organizers and hosts of the event, Holly and Randy Rimes of Kline and Jim Schaffer, owner of Grahams Turnout, brought in the wounded warriors from Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga. for a day of fun and relaxation.
Some had never been quail hunting before. Most of these soldiers were wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. Although each hunter had his or her own disability, none slowed as the formation moved through the fields and trees. The Southeastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, Inc. helps injured veterans but also finds activities for those wounded and still enlisted in the armed forces, Holly Rimes said.
Kurt Glass, the sports director with the Southeastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, Inc. was in charge of getting the soldiers to the fun day.
This time he brought 26 soldiers, he said.
Glass said the soldiers enjoyed the day.
"They loved it. They had a great time," Glass said.
Another event is planned for May 16, Family Fest. It will not only be for the wounded warriors and disabled veterans but for all people with a disability, Holly Rimes said.
Glass said for Family Fest, he is planning to bring a whole battalion, meaning from 300 to 400 soldiers plus their immediate families. Holly Rimes said she is expecting 1,000 people at the Family Fest.
Again this year, there will be a variety of activities for those people to enjoy, she said. The jump from Family Fest to hosting a hunting and fishing day for the wounded warriors was a natural progression, Rimes said.
"One dot connected to the other," she said.
One of those connecting dots is Dana Bowman, a paraplegic. Bowman is a former member of the Golden Knights, the elite Army parachuting team. Bowman and his parachuting partner collided during an exhibition. The accident killed Bowman's jump partner and caused Bowman's amputations.
Bowman now uses his "disability" to show others how "able" they are by doing motivational speeches and events like the hunt for the wounded warriors.
Bowman and Rimes' husband Randy helped each hunter get familiar with the guns being used as well as taught them how to aim at the fleeing birds or prey. Family Fest, now a nonprofit organization, will encompass the type hunts held on Feb. 7 as well as the main event of Family Fest May 16, Rimes said.