CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Letterkenny Army Depot’s Natural Resources Office joined forces with the Letterkenny Munitions Center to host the annual Hunt of a Lifetime event and Wounded Warrior Hunt Dec. 1-2.
Over the past 15 years, LEAD has held these events to provide wounded, severely injured and ill veterans, as well as children under 21 with life-threatening illnesses or disabilities, the opportunity to hunt on the depot. In addition, the hunting program at LEAD is used as a management tool to maintain a sustainable white-tailed deer population and decrease the chance of wildlife-related vehicle collisions on the installation.
“[The hunting program] gives the warriors a chance to escape into the forests and fields to enjoy a hobby or passion they may have or possibly experience a new adventure,” said Craig Kindlin, LEAD natural resources manager. “Overall, the hunting program provides a great opportunity to give back to the Soldiers that served this nation, as well as provide opportunities to the hunting public.”
Two children, Ethan, 16, and Sawyer, 10, participated in this year’s Hunt of a Lifetime event.
“Many of these children spend much of their time in medical care or at home,” said Kindlin. “It provides them with a great hunting experience and a chance to harvest a deer on an Army installation.”
Ethan, Middletown, came out eager to participate and to harvest.
“I am so excited to go out and get some deer today,” he remarked.
Many of the children who hunt in this annual event are local to the community or live within a day’s drive to LEAD.
“Their excitement about being on an Army base as well as meeting and hunting with Soldiers is intense and real,” Kindlin said. “The program is a great way for LEAD to give back to the local community.”
Travis Rupert, Lock Haven, and Dennis Leonard, Middletown, two veterans and best friends who participated in the Wounded Warrior Hunt, shared their excitement to be experiencing this hunt together. The close friends use their free time volunteering to help other wounded warriors have rewarding hunting and fishing experiences.
“Because of all the work we do with other charities, we don’t really get to hunt together very often, so when we do get an opportunity to come out together, we make so many memories,” Rupert explained. “The fun part about all of this is the people you meet. The hunting is just a bonus. The relationships and connections you make with people you don’t know last a lifetime. You may not call them every day, but we make meaningful connections every time we go places. Doing that and being on the road with my best friend is the best part of all this.”
Leonard agreed with Rupert’s remarks.
“With us volunteering to take other people out to hunt and help other people have a successful hunt, we don’t get to take in as much as you do on the receiving end,” Leonard said. “We spend a lot of time helping others gain success, so it is exciting that this is our time to reap the rewards of nature.”
Robert Lighty, Harrisburg Area, is a retired Sergeant Major and was wounded during his second tour in Afghanistan.
“This hunt gives me hope,” Lighty said. “I have a traumatic brain injury so I can’t do anything myself. Here at this hunt, I’m safe and with a great group of people, and for the first time in a long time, I have the opportunity to harvest an animal.”
Two additional veterans, Patrick Blakely and Russel Owens, also participated in this year’s hunt.
Each participant was successful in taking at least one animal. In total, six antlered deer, four antlerless deer and a bear were harvested.
Since 2007, LEAD has held 30 Hunt of a Lifetime hunts for 36 children, harvesting 35 deer and 1 coyote. In that time, LEAD has also held 37 Wounded Warrior hunts for 102 veterans, harvesting 120 deer, 2 coyotes and 1 bear.
Letterkenny Army Depot is the Army’s premier professional organic maintenance facility that provides overhaul, repair and modifications for tactical missile air defense and space systems, electric power generation equipment and various military vehicles, support systems and protection programs. LEAD is a subordinate of U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, and is the Air and Missile Defense and Long Range Precision Fires depot, supporting systems for the Department of Defense, foreign partners and industry. Letterkenny Army Depot was established in 1942 and is a government-owned and -operated industrial installation located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
For more information about LEAD, visit https://www.letterkenny.army.mil/
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|CHAMBERSBURG, PA, US