KNOX COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — Familiar sounds greeted veterans who gathered at a remote ranch in western Knox County Friday.
However, the sounds of high-speed rotor blades and rifle fire weren’t from warfare, but during a peaceful gathering of old and new soldiers at the Circle Bar Ranch for the Semper Invictus Hog Hunt.
Christopher May retired as a Master Gunnery Sergeant after 24 years in the Marine Corps as a reconnaissance marine.
May said it is really important to get engaged with the communities that serve veterans and that’s why he decided to see what the Big Country Veterans Helicopter Hog Hunt was all about.
“Gives us an opportunity to meet guys we didn’t know from other branches and really share stories and I think the more we share the more we open up the faster we heal in a lot of cases with a lot of us in some of the injuries we’ve had,” May said.
Co-founder of BCV, Cody Palmer said it is all in the mission statement to bring communities together to provide a healing environment for wounded and active duty veterans through outdoor recreational activities.
“We find that especially the veterans that we focus on here, special forces combat veterans that bringing them out into the country, out in this area, just allows them time to kind of decompress a little bit, gets them around communities and like-minded men and we’re just here to create a healing environment,” Palmer said.
“And that’s really what opens us up and starts guys talking about issues they’re having, how they’re dealing with issues we’ve learn a lot and we actually passed off a lot of great knowledge during these events on different ways we support each other and how we can help each other moving forward so I think we benefit the most from that,” May said.
Colton Daniel the second half of the founding committee said they’re just doing their part.
“This is just a way for us ranchers, landowners, out here in rural America to find a way to give back to our veterans who have sacrificed so much and allow us to have the freedom to live in a free country,” Daniel said.
After hearing stories of how Vietnam vets were treated when they returned home, Daniel said his sole purpose has been to make this a better place for veterans to come home to.
“We want to encourage these guys hey don’t be sheltered in, get out, get out meet civilians that may not have served there are good citizens out there that want to know you know your story and what you’ve done to defend us,” Daniel said.
And of course, in the midst of all of the camaraderie, they were hunting wild hogs which is a battle ranchers in this rugged outback are engaged in year-round.
The Redneck Culinary Academy provided food and the vets got to tour the ranch as well as use the gun range.