Does a turkey hunt count as a honeymoon? For newly married couple John and Amy it did.
A longtime friend of Freedom Alliance, John lost his left leg when he encountered an explosion while serving in Afghanistan. We met him four years ago at Walter Reed when he was still using a wheelchair and undergoing treatment to help recover his remaining leg. Since then, John has remained tight, even coordinating a fundraiser and several events for Freedom Alliance.
This April, we worked with John to provide him and his bride, Amy, with a customized romantic getaway … which included a turkey hunt. It would be Amy’s break from nursing school and the perfect time to celebrate their new marriage.
Duane Gardner of Summerleas Hunting Preserve in Rapidan, Virginia, allowed us use of his family’s 500 acres of prime hunting land. Amy would carry the shotgun and John would work the turkey calls.
Duane met the couple on a Monday afternoon to get accustomed to the preserve and settle the hunt for the next day. They awoke to rain, but eventually it reduced enough for Duane to show the newlywed hunters a decent position within the cedar forest in Summerleas.
Despite the cold and rain (and a disturbing eruption of earthworms from the ground beneath them), John called a turkey within 40 yards. Although a tough shot, Amy fired, and John was thrilled to find that she hit the target.
Having gotten the bird they’d dreamed of, Amy and John spent the final day of their vacation at the Mayhurst Inn bed and breakfast in the city of Orange, which is owned and operated by Lt. Col. Oliver North’s brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Pat. For a bit of fun that afternoon, Jack and Pat gave the newlyweds a couple of passes to local wineries.
A special dinner with Freedom Alliance was scheduled for that last night at Vintage, the restaurant at the Inn at Willow Grove. The staff served tapas that evening, reserving us a private room and complimentary champagne, with which to toast John and Amy. At the end of the meal, our server, along with the manager and other staff, presented John with a dessert plate, on which was written in chocolate, “Thank You for Serving Our Country.”