Combat Marine Outdoors Brings Marines/Soldiers to Seadrift by Joyce Rhyne

Archived in the category: Events, General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 19 Jun 14 - 0 Comments

As hundreds of Wounded Warriors were being welcomed to Port O’Connor, there were 18 young Marines and soldiers already enjoying a day of fishing out of Seadrift. This smaller, but just as enthusiastic and appreciative group, were part of the 5th annual fishing tournament sponsored by Combat Marine Outdoors.

Combat Marine Outdoors was started in 2005 after Marine Col. Allan Orr spent several months visiting combat wounded Marines and Sailors from the 1st Marine Division at Brooke Army Medical Center. Col. Orr saw that these service members needed an opportunity to get away from the hospital in an environment of friendship, camaraderie and fellowship in order to accelerate their recovery from the traumatic injuries they sustained in combat. In many cases, these service members did not want to leave the confines of the hospital, but it was (and is) crucial to begin to re-inculcate back into society. In every case, the Marines and other service members who participated in the outings felt an enormous sense of accomplishment and a new sense of hope and belonging once the trip was completed.

Since its inception, Combat Marine Outdoors has taken more than 1,000 combat wounded servicemen on these hunting and fishing adventures, with more than 50 ranches participating. In Seadrift, it is the Clibure Ranch that hosts the annual trip. With local veteran Butch Hodges coordinating, there were 10 donated boats and guides taking the 18 men fishing. Despite the windy weather, there were 84 reds and 38 drum caught in the two days of fishing.

While fishing is important, the treatment they received from their hosts and guides and the warm greeting they receive while in Seadrift, helped to demonstrate just how much their service and sacrifice are appreciated by patriotic Americans.

As they arrived in Seadrift on May 15 escorted by members of the Patriot Guard Riders, the entire Seadrift School was on hand to greet them. Principal Dwana Finster presented the Combat Marine Outdoors organization with $250 donated by the school children. The men were then treated to lunch at Barkett’s and stopped by Butch Hodges “barn” in Seadrift before heading out to Cliburne Ranch. There they were greeted by their hosts for the weekend, Mike and Vickie Campbell, and after settling in to their accommodations enjoyed a “pig roast” courtesy of Jerry Pizzitola and Jerry Jr.

On Saturday evening, after a delicious dinner served by Christie of Casa Ol, and great country/western music and singing by talented folks from Seadrift and Victoria (Jackie, Mike, and Jacquline Campbell, David and Randy Boyd, John Sullivan, and Randall Edwards), it was time for a few special presentations to be made. Spokesman for the group was Rusty Hooks, who along with Ret. Master Gunnery Sgt. Art Garcia, was in charge of this year’s fishing trip.

Special recognition was given to several in attendance, including Dave Gonzales of Seadrift, a World War II veteran, the guides who had given of their time and talents, the Pizzitola’s, Josh and Ashley Waghorne, and Butch and Mary Hodges. All the servicemen received hand-made quilts made by Ann Boyd and friends and bound by Frances Russell.
As the ceremonies ended, Rusty Hicks gave a prayer of thanksgiving, and the band struck up the cords of another old-time tune, serenading these special members of our Nation’s Protectors as their few days of respite in our peaceful coastal area came to a close.

For information about Combat Marine Outdoors:

Frances Russell, who bound all the quilts presented to the Marines and soldiers, gets a hug



Sgt. Abel Morales of El Paso with Susie Huddler of POC

Army Corporal Matthew Pundyk from Sacramento, CA and Marine Lance Corporal Michael McAuliffe from Tyler, TX

Patriot Guard Riders were treated to lunch in Seadrift by Butch and Mary Hodges.

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