Supporters of Patriot Point organized a recent weekend retreat for eight veterans.
“I put the group together as a mixture of different veteran service organizations that I belong to or participate in events with – the Marine Corps League, Wounded Warrior Project and Delaware Chapter of Veterans,” said John Rego, a U.S. Army veteran who was an Airborne Ranger and served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I had never met most of the guys before. I only knew two of them and only one had been to Patriot Point previously.”
The retreat was sponsored by Patriot Point supporter Bob Basarab of Bel Air Road Supply. Carl Peterson of Nicolock brought a 40-foot boat to take the group out for a day of fishing. Bel Air Road Supply and Nicolock have continually supported Patriot Point, contributing to recent renovations.
As Rego has seen in previous visits to Patriot Point, it did not take long for the group to mesh.
“The first night is always interesting to watch – some guys are a little standoffish and you can tell they have things they are dealing with or don’t know what to expect or how the weekend will pan out,” Rego said.
“But it takes less than 24 hours for that to change. By the second night, everyone is joking with each other, sitting next to someone new, having conversations. It doesn’t matter who you were or where you are from. Slowly but surely you can see them drop their guard as time goes on. The esprit de corps comes out. It makes everybody feel like they’re in the right place.”
One of the veterans was into archery and brought along his bow and arrows and the group practiced its target shooting. Another veteran was into treasure hunting and brought a metal detector – little did the group know it would discover several different old coins while searching along the dune near the beach. Rego sent the coins to a friend who is an archaeologist.
“Stuff like that is so cool,” Rego said. “To make friends like this and have shared experiences.”
On Saturday, Peterson took most of the group out on the water for a splendid day of fishing, while Basarab stayed back at Patriot Point and chatted with one of the veterans who chose to stay on land.
“He served in Iraq and was injured there,” Basarab said. “We hung out all day and got to know each other. Sometimes that means just as much, if not more than, the other stuff. I don’t think he has a lot of people to talk to. He poured it all out. It gave us a little more understanding of what he needed from the weekend.”
After those who went fishing returned, the group relaxed on the patio outside the barn and were entertained by the band Just a Bit Outside.
“It was an awesome weekend,” Basarab said. “I say this every time I visit Patriot Point, but it really was the best weekend!”