Freedom Hunters recently hosted a group of five decorated combat veterans at Patriot Point. Among the group were:
- One service member who received a Purple Heart for his injuries
- A Gold Star brother, whose brother was lost in combat a few years ago
- A member of the Navy who recovered from injuries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and is now stationed there until his possible medical retirement
- A Marine who had worked in communications and had deployed multiple times on Navy ships to assist in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
From Tom Deoudes of Freedom Hunters:
Really, what is not to like about Patriot Point? Every one of our hunts has been as therapeutic and healing as they have been successful in harvest. The young man from Walter Reed had his first taste of waterfowl hunting and he is now an enthusiast. The whole ride back he didn’t stop talking about how great a time he had.
They all said they enjoyed the time in the goose blind even though there wasn’t a goose to be shot. That is because it is about so much more than just the harvest. They had a fantastic time at the five-stand skeet shooting. [Property manager Tim Mitchell] does a great job making sure they have a full day of activities. For several of them, it was the first time to shoot at a five-stand and they loved it as well.
After the shoot, most went and had an impromptu diver duck hunt on the shore, while one warrior worked out in the gym and another just sat and relaxed outside. They actually shot one bufflehead but for the warriors it was more about them being together and feeling the bond of working as a team. Most of them miss that feeling.
The goals of Patriot Point and Freedom Hunters are the same. We are both working to heal some of the battle scars and trauma received from military service and to reduce the number of 22 service related suicide deaths a day. There is no better place to do it than the setting that Patriot Point provides. The warriors enjoyed having a place to sit around and talk at night. They were able to discuss the places they have been and how they may have overlapped on some of their deployments, reminiscing about different bases and even some of the fights they had been in. They enjoyed the group setting, overlooking Slaughters Creek while enjoying breakfast and laughing at Tim’s stories or about who shot what.
There is only one thing they all said they didn’t enjoy and that was that it only lasted two days. One of the warriors said that the “VA doctors ought to prescribe a heavy dose of Patriot Point to all our combat vets”. That is why I say Patriot Point is the total package.
A U.S. Navy lieutenant and two marines were part of a group that visited Patriot Point this week and enjoyed a hunt.
“It was all of the Kindred Spirits from ages 30-ish to 70 getting along so good and enjoying the wonderful setting and amenities of the Patriot Point,” said Brian Rains of The Link-Up, who brought Navy. Lt. Joe Breen to Patriot Point. “I’ve hunted with a lot of vets and it always seems they are cut from the same cloth of course, standing in the dawn twilight and listening to the ducks and seeing the light come up. And then to watch them work was a pleasure as well“Upon arriving at Patriot Point our group was welcomed by the guide Tim, who immediately made us feel at home,” Kevin Wilcox shared in an email. He made it a point to show us where everything was and give our group the tour of the property.
“After that we settled into the suites provided to our group and spent the evening watching college football, eating dinner, and sharing war stories. Early in the a.m. we met up again with Tim who then outfitted us with some really nice gear including coffee and donuts.
“From there we headed out to the duck blind where the action started. The hunting was simply phenomenal. All of us got more than our fair share of ducks with plenty of pictures to prove it. After that we saddled up and headed back to the main house for a fantastic breakfast. As a disabled Marine Corps Veteran who struggles with PTSD this was truly something special to go out and participate in.
“Thank you Patriot Point for creating a peaceful environment for your Veterans to come enjoy.”
Patriot Point thanks the senior members of the Gonzaga College High School lacrosse team for spending their day off from school for Veterans Day volunteering at Patriot Point. The group arrived in the morning and spent several hours moving boxes, clearing brush and other chores to help improve the property.
The visit was Coach Casey O’Neill’s idea after he participated in the 2018 DC Touchdown Club True Heroes Golf Tournament benefiting Patriot Point.
“I was sitting there at the event, making small talk and looking at what Patriot Point is,” O’Neill said, noting that in the past his teams have sent packages to service members abroad and done volunteer work with Children’s Hospital. “I told [Patriot Point founding partner] Stuart [Plank] and [Military Bowl Foundation President & Executive Director] Steve [Beck] that I would love to bring the team to Patriot Point. I don’t know if they thought I was serious or just making small talk, but I followed up with Steve.”
The trip was an eye-opener, O’Neill said, noting that in addition to doing work at Patriot Point, his players had the opportunity to tour the property and meet Gold Star families who were visiting.
“I can’t say it enough, the boys loved it,” O’Neill said. “They were tired when they got home. But one dad reached out to me and said, ‘My son doesn’t ever talk around the dinner table, but he couldn’t stop talking about his day.’ It was really neat to see first-hand exactly what Patriot Point is and how special it is.
Patriot Point hosted a group of five Gold Star families for a retreat this past weekend.
“It was awesome, very peaceful and restful and something we all needed,” said Jane Horton, whose husband, Specialist Christopher Horton, was an army sniper killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. “Stuff we used to do with our loved ones – I used to fish with my husband – and things many of us haven’t done in years or ever done.”
The group arrived on Friday for Veterans Day weekend and stayed through Monday, enjoying many of the activities Patriot Point has to offer. They fished, enjoyed a duck hunt and went skeet shooting. “And relaxed,” Horton added.
“It was a fantastic weekend,” said Kylie Owen Willis, whose father, Staff Sergeant Kirk Owen, was the squad leader for the scout and sniper platoon on which Horton served; Owen was killed in action one month before Horton. “We got together as mostly people who didn’t know each other at the beginning of the weekend. We hunted duck together, cooked for each other, sat around the fire and roasted marshmallows together. We could be ourselves and there were people who could understand what I had been through.”
Heroes on the Water George Washington Chapter hosted a group that included 11 veterans and one veteran volunteer this past weekend at Patriot Point.
The group arrived Friday to set up and relax and did some fishing from the shore on a windy afternoon. On Saturday, the guests hit the water to fish from kayaks and hung out on the beach before enjoying a tasty dinner of oysters, Sika deer and rockfish, all locally sourced and freshly prepared.
A Saturday night bonfire with some night fishing was a perfect way to end the day.
USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore hosted nine active-duty military families at Patriot Point this past weekend. Heroes of the Water George Washington Chapter helped with the water activities as the group enjoyed kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, crabbing and more!
The weather was spectacular and water awesome as the group headed out – where they were greeted by a school of dolphins! It was a rare treat in our peaceful waters.
Topping things off, everyone enjoyed some roaring bonfires on the beach!
“Such a wonderful place to visit and unwind,” the Blatt family wrote in our guestbook. “Thank you so very much for all the kindness you show us!”
It was a beautiful afternoon as 100 guests enjoyed Patriot Point’s Open House.
The day was designed to show off improvements that the Military Bowl Foundation has made since purchasing the property 2 ½ years ago. During that time, a new Barn with Caretaker’s Residence and Welcome Center have been constructed, while the Guest House exterior has been renovated and accessibility improvements have been made.
The visitors included State Delegate Christopher Adams, Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Robert Finn and Melissa Kelly, Eastern Shore Director for Senator Chris Van Hollen.
Finn joined Military Bowl Foundation President & Executive Steve Beck and Patriot Point Founding Partner Stuart Plank in speaking to the crowd.
“What a great turnout and an awesome day,” Beck said. “It was wonderful to be able to share what we are doing at Patriot Point.”
Patriot Point recently welcomed the 13-person Program Strategy Team from The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit that provides veterans with opportunities to connect and grow through community impact in under-resourced communities. The Program Strategy Team designs and evaluates the organization’s programs. This week’s retreat focused on the organization’s future growth and plans.
“This was the perfect space for us to have a true team retreat- something we’ve never done before,” said Mary Beth Bruggeman, vice president, program strategy. “We were able to connect to each other in such an authentic way, have fun, and get a ton of work done over the few days that we were there.”
“We spent time talking about some difficult topics on our team — things that could’ve been uncomfortable. But honestly, when you’re looking at the water and seeing an eagle fly overhead, even those conversations become easy and comfortable.”
Bruggeman said that she and her team members were very relaxed and that the retreat enabled The Mission Continues team to come together and set their goals for the next year. The group enjoyed Patriot Point’s beauty and hospitality and team members had a great time crabbing.
“I hope we’ll be able to come back in the near future,” Bruggeman said. “Our team has already said they’d like this to be an annual thing for us, and I couldn’t agree more.”
Military Warriors Support Foundation brought two Gold Star Families to Patriot Point this past week, the Dawsons and the Enfingers.
While the weather was rainy, the two mothers and six boys were able to enjoy some Eastern Shore hospitality, including some time on the beach and plenty of crabbing. On one morning, the group hauled in a bushel of crabs that Patriot Point property manager Tim Mitchell steamed for a dinner on the Main House’s lovely screened porch.
The boys also fished from the dock and went on the water, pulling in five striped bass.
“Thank you for a relaxing weekend. God bless you and your family,” Jennifer Enfinger wrote in our guest book.
From the Dawsons: “Thank you for an amazing time! We felt right at home from the time we arrived until the time we left. I wish I could tell you my favorite thing, but we enjoyed everything. This may have been the most relaxing days I’ve ever had on a trip. Can’t thank you enough.”
Here is a first person account from Sgt Reid Erickson, U.S. Army retired, who recently was part of a Military Warriors Support Foundation visit to Patriot Point
As my family and I rolled into Patriot Point we were greeted by Tim who is the property manager and operator. He was full of smiles, as was my family. He showed us around the property and to the Guest House where we would be staying. The Guest House has six bedrooms and five bathrooms; each room has either two queen or full size beds. Plenty of room for all five of us and my service dog Melton. As we settled in James, Laura and Shae pulled in ready for a week of fun and relaxation.
The next day we woke up to James cooking and Tim was ready for the boys to get out to the five-stand and shoot clays. The boys had a blast and did really well hitting their targets. Around 12:30 Tim, James, my boys and myself went out fishing looking for dinner.
Since Tim is a local with a wealth of knowledge it took us no time to put some fish in the boat. Tim knew all the spots for seabass and in four hours we must have caught 60 to 70 fish. We ended up keeping 10 of the big guys for dinner on Thursday.
After we got back we all met up for dinner on the first floor, where there are two bedrooms, a full-size kitchen with a table that seats 10 and a living room with TV and Xbox for the kids. James cooked up dinner and we all went to the beach to relax and watch the beautiful sunset.
The next day we woke up to James cooking breakfast — which was delicious! — and then took a small road trip (about 90 minutes) to Assateague Island. where the surf was big and wild horses walked around freely. It was an absolutely perfect day with new friends and our families. Everyone enjoyed the beach while collecting shells and riding the waves on boogie boards. I managed to lose my sunglasses when I was hit by a wave. Totally worth it lol!
When we got back to Patriot Point, the boys cruised around on the golf cart while everyone got ready for dinner. Now full and sun-soaked we jumped into the water again and watched another beautiful sunset fall on Patriot Point.
On our last day at Patriot Point all the boys woke up and went crabbing right off the shore. Blue crab was our target and once again Tim and his knowledge put us on the crab right away. It was the first time many of us have seen a hookless trout line used to catch crab and man did it work. Tim educated us on how to place the line and then run the line catching crab. There was a science to how to catch them without messing up the trout line and Tim was very patient with all of us as we learned how to get them in the boat. After about eight passes we has a full basket of crab for that evening’s seafood dinner. The day remained easy and relaxing as we cleaned, did laundry and got ready for the next day’s departure. The boys went out to the five-stand again with Tim to get some more trigger time in and the rest of us started to prepare the food for dinner. Pretty sure there was a nap somewhere in between.We walked dinner up to the main lodge where they have pool tables and all sorts of cool stuffed animals to look at. Don and Mamma Shipley came over for dinner and we all sat down to an amazing feast thanks to Tim and James. James made an amazing crawfish etouffee and Tim steamed up the crabs with precision. Everything was so delicious I needed to be rolled back to my bunk. It was a fitting way to end an amazing trip to Patriot Point.