Groups take Purple Heart recipients alligator hunting

13 News
Margaret Kavanagh

Wounded while fighting for our country, a group of Purple Heart recipients from across the U.S. are in Brevard County this weekend to hunt alligators.

Brevard County Airboat Association members took the five wounded soldiers out on the water near Camp Holly in Melbourne.

They were chosen by the group Wounded Warriors in Action to pick any fishing or hunting trip throughout the country, but they all wanted to hunt alligators.

Kyle Finley of Kentucky uses a wheelchair and suffered a leg injury while in the Middle East.  The 25-year-old man said he was grateful.


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"I might as well try and hunt something that hunts you back," Finley said.

Gary Horn, a wounded soldier from South Carolina, said not "too many people can say they went out and wrestled an alligator."

While working on the 73rd floor of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, Gregory Amira of Tampa was injured helping other people try to escape danger.

Despite his disabilities after being trapped under the rubble twice, he was called to serve the country six years later. 

He said while running through bullets during an attack, he saved three fellow comrades, but suffered serious injuries to his face, head, and even swallowed chemical waste.

"Where I use to be able to run millions of dollars in my head, now I can't even balance my checkbook," Amira said.

He said he loves a challenge and calls himself an adrenaline junkie.

"Even though I have seven herniated disks, I try extreme skiing,” Amira said. “Up in Brooklyn we don't get to hunt. Going to Iraq you get to hunt humans. I figured animals won't shoot back. "

Founder and CEO of the Wounded Warriors in Action John McDaniel said it is difficult for the men and women returning from combat. 

"There is very little decompression time,” McDaniel said. “They are, bam, back into society." 

He said it gives them a chance to bond with people who have experienced similar situations. 

"We provide an opportunity for a short period of time to say thanks for what you did, welcome home and let's go have some fun," McDaniel said.

They said the support from the community has been astonishing.

The American Legion escorted them from their hotel to the camp.

Horn said the support provides a "tremendous uplifting boost to us."

The group will spend Saturday night hunting alligators.

Wounded Warriors in Action travels the nation trying to help men and women transitions back into civilian life.

This is one of over 40 events of its kind this year.

"You can't ask for better than that,” Amira said. “It gives you that tickly feeling inside, makes you feel great about it."

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