The #3rd Gathering of Mountain Eagles, 2-6 Sep 2009
The third Gathering of Mountain Eagles was conducted from 2-6 September 2009. Twenty-one soldiers, Marines, wives and cadre members from the Army’s Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Eustis, VA; Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC; Marines Wounded Warrior Regiment at Camp Lejeune, NC; and two Army veterans associated with the Hampton Veterans Hospital in Hampton, VA participated in the challenging and fun activities.
Twenty-one soldiers, Marines, wives and cadre members from the Army’s Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Eustis, VA; Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC; Marines Wounded Warrior Regiment at Camp Lejeune, NC; and two Army veterans associated with the Hampton Veterans Hospital in Hampton, VA participated in the challenging and fun activities.
We started at Smokey’s-on-the Gorge restaurant where the warriors had a great meal with our honored veteran, Army Ranger Hall of Fame member SGM (Ret) Andy Markovich. They also viewed the New River Gorge where they would participate in whitewater rafting the next day. That night we stayed at the beautiful Glade Springs Resort Inn with Greg Haynes as our host and sponsor.
On 3 September the warriors were guests of several whitewater companies, all coordinated by Rob Dobson of West Virginia Adventures. This was Rob’s second time in coordinating the warrior’s rafting trips and we certainly appreciate all his great efforts.
Also contributing were Caleb Button of Alpine Adventures, Justin Boyce of New & Gauley River Adventures, Joe Storella of River Expeditions, Mike Yoney of Ace Adventures, and Mark Lewis of the WV Professional River Outfitters.
On that same afternoon, we were treated to a very relaxing horseback riding session to the rim of the New River Gorge courtesy of Gary Bateman’s crew of Equestrian Adventures. The supper meal at Chico’s Restaurant in Oak Hill, WV where the warriors were met by Mayor Anna Lou Holt, Major General John Barnette and Command Sergeant Major Lawrence Vance, both of the WV Army National Guard, as well as three honored WW II veterans Gerald Hildebrand (Navy D-Day veteran); Frank Kidd, Army D-Day Medic and Adelia Dempsey, Army Nurse. That night we stayed in the cabins of Rivermen on the Gorge company.
On Friday, 4 September, we started off early in the morning with the canopy zipline course courtesy of TreeTops Canopy Tours. Our host “Tiny” Elliott & Bud Frantz led a crew that resulted in great fun was had in “zipping” through the trees. That afternoon, we departed the Fayetteville area for the Stonewall Resort for the second annual Mountain Eagle Open. Our host, Leslie Gillum invited many local West Virginians to play with the warriors. Also, Major General Allan Tackett, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, several retired Guard soldiers, and local businessmen played in the tournament. Lynn Phillips, who is the West Virginia Governor’s personal representative to Northern West Virginia, read a letter of greetings and welcome to all the soldiers and Marines from the Governor. A great meal and relaxing opportunities was had by all at the Stonewall Resort where we stayed for our third night.
Football IntroductionsPatriot Guard RidersSaturday started with the roar of nineteen Harley-Davidsons of the Patriot Guard Riders who escorted the warriors to Morgantown, WV in preparation for the West Virginia University – Liberty University football game. The warriors and other supporter of the Gathering of Mountain Eagles were introduced just prior to kickoff while positioned on the goal line. After the game, we were again treated to a great meal at the Elk’s Club hosted by the GME Morgantown representative, Gary Burch.
We left that afternoon for Camp Dawson where the warriors had a peaceful night at this premier National Guard facility. Sunday morning were we joined for breakfast by CSM (Ret.) Patrick St. Clair who was a participant in the Son Tay Raid to rescue American POWs during the Vietnam War. Closing ceremonies were then held where the warriors and others were presented their Gathering of Mountain Eagles coins. They then departed for home with the best wishes of the staff of the Gathering of Mountain Eagles.