Missiles and Fire Control President Jim Berry recently received a bronze sculptor of “Today’s Solider” in appreciation for his support of the 3rd Annual Glendon Johnson Cast & Blast Wounded Warrior Event. The event was organized by Bill Hansen, a former Lockheed Martin vice president and current president of Calvary Creek Consulting Group.
The most recent event, held in Utah this past October, brought together five wounded warriors including one double amputee. These brave veterans represent various military conflicts including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF). Five older combat veterans who had served in Vietnam, the Balkans, Desert Storm and OEF/OIF were paired with the younger men. The warfighters, from different conflicts and different generations, enjoyed a relaxing three days in southern Utah where they spent time fly-fishing, hunting and perfecting their aim on the rifle range.
Each of the five younger soldiers has endured serious injuries during their tour of duty requiring extensive physical rehabilitation, but that’s usually only the first step in their recovery. Reorientation into normal society after witnessing the horrors of war, often prove far more difficult to overcome than bodily wounds.
Bill, a Vietnam veteran was also wounded while serving overseas. He, together with many of his military comrades, understood that wounded warriors needed a support system and that’s how the Cast & Blast came into being. He chose to host the special event at Castle Valley Outdoors, a 16,000-acre working cattle ranch and hunting lodge located in southern Utah and owned by Woody Johnson, the son of World War II veteran Glendon Johnson. A native of Utah, Bill considers it the perfect venue where wounded warriors can come together to establish friendships and aid in each other’s recovery.
Each year the event has grown to include numerous sponsors and special guests. This past year Orrin Hatch, Utah state senator joined in for a while along with retired army General John Sylvester, retired Army General Terry Tucker, retired Major General George Harmeyer and retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Oates, also a former Lockheed Martin vice president from Wash. Ops in Bethesda.
“I am honored to be able to help. This makes an older warrior feel good to be around these younger warriors, it really does,” said Retired Army Lieutenant General John Sylvester. “Probably a little bit of that is selfish too because we get to feel young again. “
“I’m amazed by the heroism displayed by these young Americans. I count it a privilege to be involved and enjoy some leisure time together,” Retired General Terry Tucker said.
Another special outcome of the entire weekend was the opportunity the wounded warriors were given to share their story on television. “Hooked on Utah” a weekly fishing and outdoor adventure program captured the event with live interviews and flashback video footage. One particularly poignant story is that of double amputee Travis Vendela, Army Sergeant 1st class. Vandela was a Calvary scout in Iraq. In early 2007, while crossing a bridge in a HMMWV, he was struck twice by large IEDs. In the explosion he lost both legs above the knee. After 30 surgeries, Travis says he is grateful everyday to be alive and that if he had the opportunity he would still go back into the military to serve his country. He is currently a football coach for Jordan high school in Utah.
“An event like this can never happen without the generous support of premier sponsors like Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control,” Bill said. “This is a true labor of love and I’m so thankful to Jim and MFC for helping to make it possible.”
The custom sculpture fashioned by Terrance Patterson, represents “today’s soldier” and features an older WWI soldier placing his hand on the shoulder of a current, modern-day solider. The Kevlar bust, a smaller statuette, was presented to all who attended the Wounded Warrior event, as well as to Connie Perry and Donna Hampton for their part in facilitating the MFC sponsorship.
From left to right : Senator Orin Hatch of Utah, Bill Hansen, Woody Johnson
Along with this year’s recipients, in the back row, one from the left, Retired General John Sylvester, Bill Hansen, Retired General Terry Tucker, and on the far right, Retired General George Harmeyer.