Wings of Valor


Our military men and women have made huge sacrifices for our country, sadly many of them have paid the ultimate price.

A non-profit in South Dakota is giving some Veterans who are disabled a shot at having a little fun.

Out here, at ‘Wings of Valor’ there’s no doubt patriotism is proudly on display.

While the flags, flapping in the South Dakota wind, are flying high… are the state’s most popular birds, pheasants.

This 160 acres and lodge was built with one thing in mind and one thing only; Veterans.

“I’m having a great day, I’ve already got myself a couple of birds and I plan on picking up another one here real quick,” disabled Vietnam Veteran Harlan Schmidt said.

Harlan Schmidt was injured in Vietnam. Today he’s one of more than a dozen Veterans who are disabled who are participating in this pheasant hunt.

They come from all wars….all branches of service and all walks of life.

“Before I never used a cane, but I use it occasionally, now it’s becoming more and more prevalent as I get older,” Schmidt said.

Jerry Painter, a Vietnam Vet himself, was injured by shrapnel from a mortar round.

“I see you got wounded in Vietnam, I said yeah, he said I see you got wounded pretty bad, I said oh yeah, he said, oh you were in bad shape and I said I was, I didn’t know that, he said, of course, you didn’t know that you were unconscious,” Painter said.

Both Painter and Schmidt, like many other servicemen and women who fought for our freedoms, struggle to talk openly about their time in the service.

“We usually don’t talk about the war very few people ever talk about the war, we just talk about things that are happening today and tomorrow and the next day you know,” Painter said.

But if they feel like opening up, ‘Wings of Valor’ has a quiet place for them to do that.

“I’ve got people I’m used to as far as their careers, I know where they’ve been and how they reacted to certain things in the past it gives me an opportunity, if I got something I might want to discuss with someone I can pick a person and maybe have a good conversation,” Schmidt said.

From September to March, Veterans who are disabled can come here and hunt, eat and stay for free.

“When this is on the calendar and they know they’re coming out here and get to hunt pheasants and hangout with their buddies and just be outside it gives them something to look forward to and for some of them, that’s enough,” Redd said.

But make no mistake, they do enjoy hunting like so many of us do.

“They have no qualms about giving each other a hard time, there’s definitely a competition between the services, between each other; it’s a fun group to hang out with,” Redd said.

But shooting pheasants out here for them may not be as important as shooting the breeze with other veterans like themselves.

“I think there’s more camaraderie here than I’ve seen at any hunt I’ve been at so far,” Schmidt said.

“It’s just awesome, you see all the guys you met before it’s just a great day, get out in the fresh air and shoot a few birds if you get a bird fine if you don’t that’s fine too, we just have a great time, they feed us good and treat us like kings,” Painter said.

The veteran hunts are put on for free thanks to donations and corporate sponsorships.

We’ve posted a link to its Wings of Valor, click here.

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