At this rate the Southern Heritage Air Foundation won’t be able to call this air show “little” for long! This show has been running every two to three years since 2004 and this past weekend entertained a crowd of nearly 5,000 with some of the top performers and teams in the country. The Warrior Bonfire Project cannot thank the Southern Heritage Air Foundation, its employees and volunteers enough for including us as the beneficiary of the weekend and raising awareness of our services.
This event gave us a platform to introduce our organization on a larger scale than any we have had before. Three of our alumni warriors and their families had the opportunity to share their firsthand experiences of participating on Bonfire trips and how it has transformed their lifelong journey of healing and recovery. Greg Williams, Jason Deming and Matt Melancon all confirm that being placed in an environment with 5 other soldiers like themselves that have had similar experiences, has helped them in a tremendous way. “Our doctors, our counselors, our families, our friends all want to understand, and we appreciate that, but the blank stares and the blank faces…. It’s hard. But when you get around the rest of us, after 10 minutes it’s like we’ve known each other for years, because we all walk the same path,” Deming stated in his presentation. “What this organization does is saving lives, you’re not just donating money for a wounded person to go hunting, fishing or skiing, you’re donating money and saving lives,” Greg Williams. Matt Melancon reflected on his first ski trip with the Warrior Bonfire Project after losing his first foot from combat wounds, when he went snowboarding he discovered that “for the first time in two years, my body did what I wanted it to do and I won!”
The wives of these men, Giovanna Williams and Jennifer Deming, helped us open the eyes of the air show sponsors that we also offer trips for the spouses as well. They are in great need of meeting others in their same positions. These wives make a daily choice to stay in the battle with their husbands and hold their hands. The lasting results from these sustained injuries that they manage all the time is beyond those most can imagine. It is imperative that they find a break and have the time to connect with others. Here they let their burdens go to others that understand and will not judge, here they find credible resources from the experience of those that are in their same shoes, and here they can relax for a couple of days.
Although these men and their families may not have drawn the crowd, they definitely made the most impact. Again we thank all those associated with the Southern Heritage Air Foundation, especially President Patty Mekus, Air Show Chairman Bob Fitzgerald, Air Show Boss Jim Tucciarone, countless volunteers and board members, and last but not least Dan Fordice who connects us all. We thank all of our sponsors, without you this event could not be possible. We thank the AeroShell Aerobatic Team for their ongoing support and adding our logo on their magnificent T-6 aircrafts. We thank all the other performers involved in the weekend events, the Flash Fire Jet Truck, the Victory Belles from the WWII museum, B-24 Diamond Lil crew, and 15 plus performers with their air crafts.
For more information visit the Southern Heritage Air Foundation. The Air Show will return, so make sure to not miss out!
Photo by: Dean Wingard at Taylor BMW
WBP Team writers
Blogs are written by staff members of the Warrior Bonfire Program along with guest writers.