Local community once again provides tremendous support
The 7th annual Winston M Toomey VFW Post 8530 Purple Heart Pheasant Hunt took place in mid November near Gettysburg, South Dakota.
This year 50 applicants sent in their credentials for selection. Post 8530 runs an ad in the VFW national magazine in July, to allow potential hunters the time to gather their application information, which consists simply of honorable discharge paperwork and a purple heart citation. This year the recipients were Steven Holden, U.S. Army Retired, from Schertz, Texas, Ruperto Cruz, U.S. Army Retired, from San Antonio, Texas, Tim Auxier, U.S. Army, from Dupont, Ind., Norman Roland, U.S. Army, from Revenna, Nebr. and David Call, U.S. Marines, from Wheatland, Wyoming. Also in attendance were Lynn Rolf, national director of programs for the VFW and, Sr Vice Commander Duane Sarmiento, who will be the next national VFW chief.
“Our post has been truly blessed to continue to host this event with great support from our community,” said Isaac Full, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s veterans outreach coordinator and life member of Post 8530. “To fly five individuals up to Gettysburg is no small feat — so to be able to continue providing this opportunity every year really speaks to how dedicated our supporters are to honoring veterans.”
Through local community support the hunt was granted access to properties with high bird populations that host quality nesting and wintering habitats, many of which Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever biologists have helped restore. This year the hunt was supported by Potts Farms, Nagel Brothers Farms, Larson Farms, Nauman Hunting LLC and Robbennolt Farms.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime, and never would have I imagined that a community so small would be so willing to open their doors to us with honor and gratitude for these men’s service to their country,” Full said. “I can only hope that in some honest and hopeful way we are providing an impactful and positive experience for these men who’ve given so much to all of us.”
This year’s attendees went home with bags full of birds and hearts full of joy. Planning for 2023 is already underway, when organizers will have the pleasure of meeting a new group of veterans, all with different faces and personal stories — but who are each connected through the shared experience of service to their country.