Thursday, January 29, 2009
Photo by Lance Cpl.Natasha Combs
Quantico has two new handicap accessible blinds that were recently finished with the help of Ducks Unlimited and their donation of $14,000 worth of supplies, professional assistance and design of the wheelchair accessible ramps.
Marines from the Wounded Warrior Regiment, senior Marine leaders and a congressman tested the new blinds Saturday.
Rep. Robert J. Wittman, currently the Republican representative of Virginia’s 1st Congressional District., Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and Brig. Gen. Michael Regner, legislative assistant to the commandant of the Marine Corps, woke up extra early to put their duck decoys in the water before the wounded warriors showed up for the hunt.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Bradley Garfield and Sgt. Keith Buckmon were wounded warriors selected to apply camouflage and participate in the four-hour Duck hunt.
Flynn and Garfield shared a blind during the hunt. Garfield, who was wounded in Iraq and is fully recovered, is a regular hunter of deer and other animals.
‘‘This was my first time hunting duck, and I would like to hunt again if someone could take me because there is a lot of gear involved in duck hunting,” Garfield said.
Wittman and Buckmon, a wounded warrior who has been in a wheelchair since he was hit by shrapnel by a improvised explosive device in Iraq, were in the same blind sharing different stories waiting for the ducks to show up.
‘‘It was a great experience even though we didn’t get to fire the weapons,” Buckmon said.
After the hunt was over, everyone gathered at a hunting blind located by the Marine Corps University for doughnut, coffee, to swap stories and get warm before the ceremony started.
Wittman was calling the ducks in the morning, but none ever got close enough to shoot.
He joked that his duck call didn’t work and said, ‘‘Which obviously shows that nobody listens to a politician.”
Even though no one shot a duck or even fire a weapon, Buckmon has already volunteered to come back in the spring for a turkey hunt.
‘‘The Marine Corps is a family,” said Flynn. ‘‘Taking care of Marines is what we do. You don’t know how happy its makes us Marines when the other folks help us take care of Marines. We got great supporters in Congress, and we have great supporters in other organizations such as Ducks Unlimited.”