The US Marines; great guys, great hunters

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spring

Senior Member
As some of you may recall, several weeks ago I mentioned my plans of hosting some Marines from our local Marine Corps Logistics Base for a special hunt to recognize and honor the fine young men we have representing and defending freedom around the world. I don't know about you, but I feel very beholden to what these guys are doing for us right now.
I contacted the base about 6 weeks ago and discussed my idea with the base's Commanding Officer, Col John Lopez, and received a very welcome response. I offered to host and entertain up to 10 Marines, knowing many of them were sportsman with few hunting opportunities to enjoy while stationed in some far away place in Georgia. I left it up to the Colonel to determine who the ten hunters would be.
Since that time the planning for this event has been enlightening to me as the Marines prepared for every possible eventuality; creating a “Communications Plan,” multiple conversations with me and nearby EMS personnel to prepare for the evacuation of the wounded, and high level meetings with the Captain in charge of the hunters, Derwin Moody, and the CO. E-mails and phone calls were between us almost daily.
Early in the planning of the hunt I had the pleasant surprise of an offer of help from JudgeG from St Simons. He lives about a 3-hour drive from me though we had never met. I had long been a big fan of his masterful abilities of online story telling, so learning of his past days as a Marine himself (where he was a pilot in Vietnam), and anticipating his arrival was also a large part of my personal excitement as the hunt approached.
Last Wednesday Judge arrived, the day before the Marines were expected to come and set up their camp at my farm. They had special ordered from somewhere a "GP tent" and were to bring it and cots for sleeping.
It was great to finally meet JudgeG and we soon slipped out of my office and headed to my farm, which is 20 miles outside of town. He wanted to learn his way around the place so that he could personally take several of the Marines to their stands in the early Friday morning darkness. While visiting, he hunted Thursday morning and shot one of the does that came his way. Below is pic we took of it:



After we had hunted that morning we started to feel the gravity of what we had stepped in to. Three times that day the Terrell County EMS came to the farm after getting phones calls from the base. The Marines had been calling and essentially having them prepare almost as if the President of the United States was coming to town. The base's CO was coming and the small county's EMS Director had been put of pins and needles to be ready in case anything went wrong. The Director himself came to the farm twice to discuss with me whether or not to preposition an ambulance near us. An ambulance did show up later to make certain they knew where we were so they could advise the Marines their estimated time to get someone to the nearest hospital about 22 miles away. They seemed concerned the CO would be vulnerable just being in our semi-remote spot with hunters around. Such excessive caution seemed overblown to me, but I guess planning for things is the Marine's way.
At 4pm sharp the Marines arrived. We only had 9 hunters as one had a something come up and couldn't make it. The guys were all so friendly, personable, and well-mannered. Right away I could tell this was going to be a special time. Immediately they began setting up their tent, which you'll see below:



The Captain, who later stayed inside with us, probably wished he had brought some ear plugs with the snoring that ensued..... :rolleyes:
All the while my good friend, Billy Joe Carroll, prepared us a feast of BBQ chicken and ribs. Those that needed to shoot guns did so while JudgeG shared some shooting wisdom.




Before it got dark I gave them a safety talk and let the Marines draw for stands. We then took each Marine to see the stand he'd be hunting the next morning so he'd be familiar with it in the dark. As we returned we saw that Col Lopez, originally from New York, had made it to my farm so he could join us for dinner. What a great guy he was, loved hearing about safaris, and shared with us some of his remarkable experiences around the world as a US Marine. Here he is with us before we all had a great meal together, capped with some of Verssie Lee's homemade pecan pie.






We soon grabbed a few cool ones and headed about a mile back into my farm where I have a favorite picnic area. JudgeG had slipped back there beforehand and had a great fire going for us in my old syrup kettle surrounded by hay bales.
Like many people, I have way too many does and hoped the Marines could take a few while there. I also knew they wouldn't mind shooting a nice buck if the opportunity came about. Earlier that day, I had boiled some eggs and I surprised the Marines by bringing them to the fire pit. Acknowledging that one of them might like to shoot a buck, I let each of them pick an egg. They then began a competition of tapping their egg against the one held by the guy next to them until one cracked, removing its owner from the race. The guy that had the last uncracked egg would get to shoot an 8-pointer the next day if the opportunity came his way. The guys were like little kids as they began the elimination and a fine Marine from Alabama was the winner.
Then began one of the most fascinating times I've ever experienced. As the fire's warmth and glow basked the faces of my new friends, I asked each of them to tell me where he was from, a bit about his family, and some about his time in the Corps. As each Marine took his turn, and I include in this JudgeG, I have to say that I was truly awed and humbled. The things these men have experienced in their young lives, the things they have done for people around the world, the dangers many of them had faced and surpassed, was incredible. Two tours in Iraq was not uncommon, months in a snow-covered tent on a mountain in Kosovo, or helping people in Afghanistan rebuild their lives were among the stories told. Others would tell of past tribulations that had been put long in their past because of the diligence, discipline and opportunities found in the Marine Corps. Some had faced deep sadness and tragedy as a child, only to move on to positions of strength and character forged among challenges few of us can imagine. As the last Marine spoke, they looked at me asking me to tell my story. Quite honestly, I could think of very little that seemed appropriate other than to express my admiration for each of them.
The next morning soon approached and excited Marines were buzzing everywhere. My son, Victor, came in that morning from college so he could help. We scattered the hunters among our 3 trucks and took them to their stands, leaving with hope for their success. I had told them the night before that any Marine that did not get a deer that day would be invited back this week to try again, but for the sake of the event's success, I hoped for a lot of deer that day.
The morning passed and about 10:20 we left to pick up the hunters. I had told them for safety’s sake not to go get their deer unless it had fallen within their eyesight. I had no idea if any deer had been taken, but almost immediately saw encouragement. The glow of excitement in the face of a deer hunter that has made his first kill can be spotted from quite a distance. I approached Capt Moody's stand first and saw what appeared to be a kid on Christmas Day. We found his deer after a short track job as his 180 yard shot had been true. Capt Moody looked good with blood on his face.... :D
As we got all the hunters we found that 7 of the 9 had deer; an 8th got one that afternoon. The 9th surely will get one this week. They field dressed their deer back at the barn after enjoying a delicious lunch of salad, chili, and sandwiches prepared by JudgeG. Here are a few pics:





The guys (who must have been taught that Marines don't smile if a camera is around) loaded up their morning's harvest and packed their gear. After offering to help me with anything I needed around the farm, they soon headed back to the base where a cooler was waiting on them. As they left the appreciation and "thank yous" they expressed were all so genuine, but I told them that I felt that I was the one that enjoyed the visit the most. I was the one that, in addition to JudgeG, had found 9 new friends and hunting buddies and I was the one that was left with the immense appreciation for our men in uniform.
During times like these soldiers of freedom-loving nations are standing watch for the things that mean the most to you. It doesn't take much to let them know how much you appreciate their efforts. I hope that you, too, can find a way to say "thanks" in your own way.
One more thing: I also learned that these guys have great memories as they reminded me that I had mentioned something the night before about them coming back in January for a duck hunt. Looks like in a couple of months we'll be doing it again... :p

 
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Headshot

Senior Member
What an amazing, wonderful story. GON should print this with pictures in a upcoming issue. Thank you, Spring for what you did for these heroes. You are a great American. :flag:
 
Spring,

I believe The Lord has a special place for folks like you, the 9 Marines, and their Commanders. My hat is off to you for providing this opportunity - actions such as this demonstate true character. And my hat is off and my head bowed to the Marines for protecting & serving our Country. Thanks for sharing this great story.

God Bless,
S-N-H
 
Thread starter #8

spring

Senior Member
Thank you for the kind words but the kudos should go to the Marines. By comparison, my contribution was quite small.
 

Lthomas

Senior Member
Gotta give you two thumbs up.
 

GAGE

GONetwork Member
Wow!!!

That is a fantastic story! I applaud you as well as our armed forces and as Headshot said, I thing it would be a fantastic story for GON to print!


:flag: :flag: :flag: :cheers:
 
:cheers: :banana: :flag: That is an exceptional story. It is very humbling to read about their lives and the hard roads that many have traveled. Unbelievable to think that I have ever had it bad at all when you hear the challenges that our marines have faced. I am so proud to hear that most got deer and the one who didn't will get another try at it. Thank you for giving a little back to them. I know they really enjoyed themselves. HOOOORAY! :flag: :flag: :flag:
 

DSGB

Senior Member
What a great story! My hat's off to you for all you've done. :cheers:
 
This is the best story I have read in a while. My compliments on the success and memories made during your hunt. :clap:
 

parkerman

Senior Member
Great story! Thanks for making that special opportunity for those soldiers. Hats off to everyone involved!!
 
That was a great thing you did and it would probably be hard to say who enjoyed it most,you or them.
If you got to spend time with judge G that is another bonus. He is a character and a fine person. he is one of the founding fathers of the Traditional Bowhunters of Georgia.
 
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