Periodically we are offered opportunities to invite the warrior members of the Bonfire to participate in an activity on a smaller scale than one of our traditional Bonfires. These usually include outings that can only hold a couple veterans at time and most often are simply a kind civilian wanting to share what they have to offer. This past weekend Dan Daily of Vicksburg wanted to host 2 or 3 of our members with their daughters or sons to see what is like to take down some alligators!
Needless to say, this sparked a little excitement and the trip was filled within days. Saturday evening brought to town 3 combat wounded service members and one of their daughters, who is an avid hunter. In the darkness of night near the muddy waters of the mighty Mississippi River, an alligator was wrestled and dominated.
We know the hunting thing turns many off but if you can try to understand the therapeutic value of these events for our wounded service members, you will see that it gives them a sense of control and normalcy, in a world that you and I, as civilians can not fathom. Protectors and hunters, make up the threads of our military, it is a passion and a calling. Once the ability to achieve that purpose is taken away, they are left with a void, a big void, and need to find a way to fill that void. Obtaining encouragement and advice from their military brothers that have made the journey, helps them find direction toward their new purpose.
We invite you to be a part of the Bonfire. If you have something you would like to share, a hunt, tickets, a trip, let us know and we will do our best to help you give back to our veterans the best way that you know how.
Staff Writer Helen Phillips
AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 introduced the Warrior Bonfire Project to two great Americans this year and it gave us, along with the Southern Heritage Air Foundation, the opportunity to provide an exceptional experience that not many have the privilege to partake. D-Day Jumper, 94 year old Jim “PeeWee” Martin, was a member of the 101st Airborne and USMC (RET) Adam Kisielewski, took flight in WWII P51 Mustangs! Traveling at speeds up to 350mph, gave them thrill of life time, but the thrill was not only the ride, it was the who!
Both are pilots and have had various experiences in flight, but the unique honor of flying tandem, in formation with fellow servicemen that spread over multi generations are what gave them the charge! Adam stated that “flying in a P51 was the most awesome experience, but flying in formation with a real American hero from WWII was the coolest part of all. I truly appreciate the opportunity!”
Adam is one of those remarkable veterans that has benefitted from organizations like the Warrior Bonfire Project. Through therapeutic retreats with fellow wounded veterans and their families, he found the motivation and drive once again to always move forward, never stop, never quit. Adam is an example of an ultimate overachieving Marine. While in service he was hand selected from the USMC Security Forces to protect the 43rd President while at Camp David, the Commandant of the Marine Corp, the Chief of Naval Operations and many more. After completing this detailed he rejoined the infantry as a squad leader outside of Camp Fallujah, Iraq. In July of 2005, Adam was severely injured while on foot patrol when he encountered and IED. His injuries required many surgeries to his stomach and ears, and the amputation of his left arm at the shoulder and right leg 4 inches above the knee. His medical recovery took 14 months prior to his medical retirement from the USMC.
Post retirement, Adam joined the US Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center to help develop cutting edge technology to aid US service men and women injured in combat. In 2010 Adam began full time with Operation Second Chance as their Vice President and then in 2013 pursued his Bachelor’s Degree in criminal justice and theology, graduating from Mount St. Mary’s University, Summa Cum Laude. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors for Homes For Our Troops which builds roughly 50 homes a year for severely injured veterans.
Finding purpose through service is what called our veterans to military careers and after injuries or retirement; many are finding that service to other veterans is a strong element of the healing process and personal growth.
“I am so proud to have had the opportunity to serve my country in many different ways. It is highly gratifying to get to be a small part of something so much bigger than myself.” ~ Adam Kisielewski
Staff Writer - Helen Phillips
WBP Team writers
Blogs are written by staff members of the Warrior Bonfire Program along with guest writers.