John, can’t thank you and the WWIAF enough for such a great weekend in Wisconsin. The wildlife and fishing was just amazing. You have inspired me to want to do the same for my fellow veterans. Rangers really do lead the way. This experience has really left a positive outlook on my life. “Ready and forward”
-N. Schoon, Purple Heart Recipient
We arrived in Alabama on Friday and sadly it is now Sunday and this awesome whitetail hunt is almost over. Mr. Steve Lambert and all the folks that sacrificed their own time to cook and help field dress animals have been amazing. The property here is incredible, and there is a ton of whitetail deer. Deer hunting is my life’s passion and is a huge process in my personal recovery. I have to thank John and Jake for all of their hard work and effort in making this hunt happen. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it has meant to me. I’ve had a plain and simply amazing time. Thank you both!
-J. Tucker, Purple Heart Recipient
Worn out Wounded Warriors in Action! “This trip, right here, will put the string in your watch pocket”! Now, that’s funny right there! But seriously though some of the absolute best times in my life were right here in just one weekend. Am I tired, hell yeah, would do it again in a New York minute. The Wounded Warriors in Action have humbled me, and showed me once again that I can be proud of what I have done, and also help us to realize that we just did our part, our part in a long line of parts. Thank you Bro. And all who came before us !
“small kill team sniper”
-D. R. Smith, Purple Heart Recipient
I am writing to convey my gratitude and appreciation to you and WWIA for the wonderful duck hunting experience in CA, this past Dec. 18-20. I must also thank the many people whom I never met, but know contributed so much to our success. John, I can’t convey in any amount of words what the trip to CA did for me; both mentally and physically. The opportunity for a boy from western KY to pursue his life-long passion of waterfowl hunting in CA was only a story in Field & Stream; never did I think I would be “that guy”! When you called, inviting me to CA, I nearly jumped to the ceiling – And I only have one leg! A real dream-come-true was mine; all I had to do was be where I was told to be and on time. The hunting was better than I imagined and the folks I met in CA made the trip even better. I made friends that I continue to talk with and saw things that I’ll never see in KY. An added bonus was getting to hunt with my friend, battle buddy, and former platoon sergeant, Derek Duplisea. I came away from the WWIA waterfowl hunting trip stronger and more independent yet. I mentioned earlier that words will not provide the feelings I want to express. WWIA allowed me to pursue a dream-hunt and further provided the therapy that no sterile Dr.’s office will ever do. Thank you, John, and WWIA! May you call on me to help your organization in any capacity! Sincerely,
-B. L. Alexander, Purple Heart Recipient
As a Wounded Warrior, the opportunity to connect with great Americans like John and 2 fellow Wounded Warriors was an experience of a lifetime. I made at least 5 great friends last weekend and the experience truly was healing. I am proud to be an Army Wounded Warrior and it brings great happiness to my heart that people like John, Duane (one of our guides and a supporter of the WWIA) and emloyers like Raytheon give Wounded Warriors a chance to connect and transition to the civilian world.
COL Art Kandarian (whom this email was forwarded from) was my squadron commander on my last tour in Iraq when I was severely wounded. This is the bond that perpetuates from war-time service- he still looks out for his wounded heroes to this day – I am proud to call Art and John my friends and they are two great American Heros.
-D. Duplisea, Purple Heart Recipient
Looking forward to seeing you again and to be able to go hunting with you. Id like to be able to do more things like that more often. You and your organization have made an immensely positive impact on me as well as raise my moral and spirits. Hunting is something I’ve always wanted to do and fishing is something I’ve always wanted to do more often. It feels so much better to be able to do things as part of such a great cause. I definitely want to be a big part of your organization and help you spread your cause for other wounded warriors. Thank you for the opportunities you have provided for me as well as other service members. I’m thankful for the day Art introduced me to you. Take care.
-Ranger Vic, Purple Heart Recipient
When I first met John he grabbed us off the plane in Jacksonville and we got a hotel. John was easy to talk to and very enjoyable to be around. I met the other wounded guys and we immediately became brothers. The next day we drove to Lake Lochloosa to meet the local airboat club. Before this event I had never been on an airboat. The club had speed airboats on the water along with many others. After having lunch we rode on the airboats. Our driver took us in the marshes for a tour. When we were able to drive the airboat, which blew my world! To be in control was amazing. When we came back we talked to the club members and the southern hospitality was something I’ve never experienced before. When I met my guides for the gator hunt they had high hopes and so did I. I used a bow to take a gator. I tried all night to take a gator over 5 feet. That was my limit. After failures all night I shot my first gator which was 6 feet long. When I used the bang stick to finish off the gator it went all over my face. I had a grin ear to ear. The whole trip was truly amazing and I would have never hunted a gator if with wasn’t for the WWIA. John is an amazing person and the things he is doing for the wounded cannot fully be put into words. Thank you John and the WWIA, United Sportsmen Airboat Alliance, Lunelle, Tommy and Tommy Jr. and Duane!
-B. Knapp, Purple Heart Recipient
First of all I would like to say thanks to LTC John McDaniel and the WWIA. I had such a great time throughout the whole weekend. Upon arriving in Jacksonville, FL, LTC McDaniel picked us up in his truck and we went to a hotel to get some rest for the next day. After waking up we loaded the truck and headed to Gainesville. Me and the other wounded soldiers immediately became good friends and by the time we arrived in Gainesville, I felt like we were all old friends and had know each other for years. Arriving in Gainesville we were immediately greeted by some people from the community and they had already been preparing for a nice cookout for us. The food was great, especially the gator tail with buffalo sauce. After eating, a couple of members from the local airboat club took us out on their hand-crafted machines. The ride was great but letting take the wheel was even better and something I will never forget! The gator hunt kicked off right at sunset and we immediately started seeing their glowing eyes through our spotlights. Derek and I started taking turns with the spear, chucking and holding the light. Derek got his first and after about an hour of hunting I had my chance. We went for about an hour without seeing anything and then all of a sudden after rounding a corner the lake came alive and we found ourselves surrounded by glowing eyes. So we chose one set and headed for it. He was a little smaller and we didn’t hit him but after the throw we saw another one just ahead. So I re-geared and let it fly. I stuck it and the fight was on. He didn’t like it one bit. We got it in the boat and I finished him with my knife. This trip was such a great time and I am very thankful for the friends I was so fortunate to meet while I was there. So once again, thanks to LTC McDaniel and the WWIA for the great time.
-R. Leonard, Purple Heart Recipient
It is the day after out Gator Hunt. I have been on trips before and regardless every time is a step into the unknown. When I arrived at the airport I immediately knew who was picking me up. Here comes this giant F-350 pickup lifted and loud. My first thought was, “oh shit, this dude is just like me. Has to be with a truck like that”. We quickly rallied with the other warriors. It was like we had known each other for years. John was an inspiration to us all immediately. I think the reason this organization works is because of who John is and what he stands for. Without John and his family, this organization fails. It takes a special person to connect with warriors, to gain their trust, and ultimately inspire them. John does that. We also had the time to spend with other great patriots. Duane Wallace poured his heart & soul in to the coordination of this hunt and it showed. Without Duane, this would not have been possible. Duane is not alone, Brian, Cajun, Phil, Jerry and many others stood up and supported us 100% by helping make this event possible.
So what is it to hunt a gator off an airboat? Can you even fathom that? I couldn’t. First the airboats. What great examples of American ingenuity. These things are fast, loud, and can turn on a dime. I want one. Someday, I will have one. I will tag it out with lights and it will be awesome. Now onto the gators. Toothy aggressive little pricks that could take your life if you made a mistake. That’s the thrill of it. I harpooned my gator right off the front of the boat after fours misses prior. I was starting to sweat it a little bit. “what if I can’t throw this thing?” It is something that is definitely not natural and takes practice. So finally we get him in the boat, tape his mouth and proceed to extinguish his life with John’s knife in the back of the skull into the spinal column. The pressure was off and I just took down one of America’s most dangerous animals. WWIA-1, Gators-0. We continued to hunt (run&gun, balls out). Captain Phil has his own unique way of doing things which is cool. John says the reunion after the hunt is the best and I have to agree. The beer was flowing just like the war stories. These types of trips for me are spiritually cleansing. We all get so wrapped up in our own worlds that it becomes counterproductive. This trip renewed my faith in people and has helped me remember who I am and what I stand for. It also brings to the forefront the values I hold dear and why I associate with a certain breed. Better having been able to spend these last three days with my brothers in arms. Hopefully, I can grow with the WWIA in the future and become an implement to the grand plan. I am looking forward to crowning the 2011 Swamp Babe next year. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that have been bestowed upon me. I will never be able to say “thank you” enough. Hopefully, someday, I can show the same hospitality to all the people who have offered it to me. Semper Fidelis,
-J. Krueger, Purple Heart Recipient
The day I heard about the WWIA gave me goose bumps. To find an organization like this one, who puts the Wounded Warriors before trying to use them as a news headline for their own personal needs. After getting my name to John, is when I found out exactly what this organization is about. Through many emails, I figured out exactly how much love and passion John had in his heart for Wounded Warriors. Without his dedication, drive and help of his wife, with people like Duane, wounded warriors dreams would not come true like this. I never thought in my wildest dreams after that day, I would ever hunt again, let alone hunt for Alligators. But people like John and Duane made it possible by getting a cross bow for me to hunt with. This is another example of how this organization has yet the bar from any other organization I have ever seen. I am the first Warrior who has had the honor of hunting Alligators with a crossbow. I hope the crossbow provides a great harvest for the next Warrior as it provided me. I was able to take 2 nice gators over 4′ with this crossbow. I believe that it is because of the hard work of John and Duane that God has allowed me to take those two creatures.
The gator hunt has been the best hunt that I have ever been a part of to date. I know people who will go their entire lives and never get to experience what I did in the past three days. Also to make it an even better experience, I was able to attend this hunt with my great friend, Bill Colwell. The experience on the swamp was exciting. The most exciting time was not the harvest, but being with my fellow Warriors.
John and Duane, this organization is “top notch” and if either on e of you ever need anything, do not hesitate to ask me. I will do everything I can to give back for what you have done for me this weekend. Thank you is not enough !!! I cannot tell you how thankful I truly am. It has been a truly wonderful healing weekend. And I truly thank you , John and Duane, John’s wife and everyone behind the scenes!!! RLTW!
-E. A. Walsh, Purple Heart Recipient