HAMILTON — A steady drizzle couldn’t stop an intrepid group of wounded warriors from taking to the air Friday to shoot wild hogs from helicopters.
About 25 wounded veterans took part in a series of events hosted by the HALO for Freedom Warrior Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports veterans challenged by rehabilitation, reintegration and healing.
In addition to aerial hog hunting in Hamilton, the veterans will take part in bow fishing and golf this weekend, weather permitting.
Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry, an Army Ranger who received the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Afghanistan in May 2008, waited out the rain with other wounded warriors in the hangar at the Hamilton airport, about 60 miles northwest of Killeen.
Wearing a big smile, Petry has a firm handshake despite having lost his right hand to a grenade that he grabbed in order to save members of his Ranger squad.
“Great,” is how Petry described the weekend events. “This is awesome. Look at the smiles on the faces of these men. The sense of community and the support is humbling.”
Shooting hogs and an occasional coyote from a helicopter with rifles and shotguns provided by the foundation is also “therapeutic,” Petry said.
Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman, president and founder of the HALO for Freedom Warrior Foundation, moved from hangar to tarmac to chopper giving directions and talking with wounded warriors.
Bowman was a Special Forces soldier and member of the Golden Knights elite parachute team before losing both his legs in a training accident in 1994.
“Having fun, having an experience with our brother group” is the purpose of the weekend, Bowman said.
Bowman said 117 area ranchers are taking part in the hog hunt to help wounded warriors and get rid of some varmints.
“We’ve killed some hogs and coyotes,” Bowman said. “We’re coming back in March.”