By Stan Welch – A local church has insured that at least three wounded warriors will enjoy the annual retreat sponsored for them at Keowee Key, in Oconee County, this year. Each year the Wounded Warriors project brings in wounded Marines from Camp LeJeune for four days of recreation and relaxation in the Keowee Key area. This year, as they did last year, the members of the Guthrie Grove Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith held a spaghetti lunch fund raiser, and raised more than $1600.
With at least thirty nine warriors scheduled to attend this year, at a cost of approximately five hundred dollars each, that means that three of those men and women will be sponsored by the church’s efforts.
Tim Callahan, the chairman of this year’s events at Keowee, was thrilled to hear that news. “Those folks got involved beginning last year I believe, and they do a great job for us and the soldiers. That kind of support and show of appreciation for our wounded men and women is exactly what this program was started for.”
The Wounded Warriors who are still in the service travel from Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, while several Upstate veterans who have been discharged or left the service but still suffer from traumatic brain injury or post traumatic stress disorder will also be on hand. Those vets are members of the S.C. Wounded Warriors regiment.
A motorcycle escort will meet the Wounded Warriors in Easley on June 18 and will lead them up Highway 123 to Highway 93. The route goes through Liberty, Norris, Central, and Clemson, before returning to Highway 123 to go through Seneca and on to Keowee Key. Last year, more than 400 bikes were on hand.
Once they are settled at the Key, the Warriors can take part in an amazing variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, hiking, water skiing, jet skiing, kayaking, archery, diving, golf and tennis. Area professionals donate services such as golf and tennis instruction, and guided fishing tours.
The Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital lends support services, including devices and equipment as needed.
Callahan said the hiking is surprisingly popular. “It’s probably because they are hiking through beautiful trees and waterfalls instead of a desert. Plus, we don’t make them wear a 110 pound pack and we have no IEDs along the trails.”
On Tuesday evening, the town of Seneca and several local businesses will sponsor a Veterans Appreciation evening, which is open to the public. In addition to the Wounded Warriors, all veterans will be recognized for their service. A BBQ dinner is available and live entertainment, including fireworks, will be included. The event is at Gillette Field and begins around 6:30.
Thursday, before heading back, the group will be hosted by the Clemson Athletic Department. They will tour the West End facilities and will rub Howard’s Rock and run down the hill, as their names flash on the JumboTron. Callahan says that is always a high point for them. “The cameras and phone cams really get busy then,” he said.
They will also visit Memorial Park, where all Clemson alumni who gave their lives in service are commemorated.
The Wounded Warriors will then head back to Camp LeJeune. “We intend that they return more relaxed and fully aware that their fellow citizens truly appreciate their sacrifices for our freedom,” said Callahan.
To learn more about the Wounded Warriors, visit c4warriors.org. To make a donation, you can use PayPal or send a check to Communities for Marines, P.O. Box 607, Seneca SC 29676.