PHILLIPS - John McDaniel founded Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation in 2007.
The first hunt they sponsored took place just outside Phillips and fifteen years later, two purple heart heroes came up North for their chance at achieving a dream, making some friends, and finding a bit of healing on the Hunt.
Tim Bell and Jack Goodroe got to Camp Hackett Friday, September 11th.
"Went online, liked what I saw, sent in all my information, applied, and here I am," Bell said.
The rainy, cold weather their first two days didn't keep them down.
"The first day and a half was rainy and cloudy," Bell said. "Just seeing the sunshine after being here three days."
Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation gives veterans a chance to connect, bond, and share a unique experience. Many wouldn't otherwise have the resources to do this. Bear tags are hard to come by and many states, like Goodroe's native Texas, don't have bear hunts. WWIAF provides everything required for the word class experience says board member Art Kandarian.
WWIAF provides "world class hunting and fishing outdoor activities as a means to honor, connect, and heal," Kandarian says.
Bell and Goodroe both looked forward to their trip. Goodroe waited two years for his chance to come up to Camp Hackett.
"It's a bucket list thing to get to do," Bell says. "'If I ever get back from overseas, this is one of the things I'd like to get do to' and here I am!"
Locals bring lunch, organize fundraisers, donate land, and more. They say it's their privilege to help the heroes who helped so many.
"This is a way for me to give back to these guys who have given us some of the things we take for granted some times," Jeff Schillinger said.
Schillinger has been volunteering in one fashion or another with WWIAF since they first started operating in Phillips 15 years ago.
The community's welcoming presence is not lost on the hunters.
"We've wanted for nothing," said Bell. "The outpouring of appreciation they've had for us is just overwhelming, it's very humbling just to be here."
Monday night, the hunters finally got their tag, making their departure Tuesday something to celebrate.
"Talking with the fellow veterans, and not just the ones who came on this trip, but the locals," said Goodroe. "Us having conversations you don't normally have a lot of the time about past experiences, things we've done, it's good to talk about and go through those shared experiences."