Each year, participants of the Tee It Up for the Troops Longest Day of Golf at Bunker Hills Golf Course in Minnesota raise pledges from friends and family and tee off at the crack of dawn to golf as many holes as they can in a day. Backs and arms were sore the next day with 1,795 holes of golf played by 25 dedicated individuals during this year’s 2021 Longest Day of Golf for the Troops at Bunker Hills Golf Course on June 11th.
Barstool Sports and Veteran Hereos Tee It Up
New this year, the event welcomed combat veteran and motivational speaker, John Kriesel and Barstool Sports personality and blogger, Uncle Chaps, a Marine and Purple Heart recipient who hosts the military popular podcast “Zero Blog Thirty.” Kriesel, Chaps, and the rest of the dedicated team members golfed from sunup to sundown, fundraising to assist disabled veterans and their families.
In 2007, Chaps McNealy was a Marine serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Chaps was a bomb-dog handler who focused on clearing IEDs with his four-legged partner, Csika. Chaps was medically retired due to injuries sustained from a gunshot wound and multiple concussions near Fallujah, Iraq. After years of struggling without answers, Chaps says that he finally became proactive in his medical care and sought treatment for PTSD and TBI. “Having PTSD and brain issues doesn’t make one weak,” Chaps says. “Recognizing that you need help and seeking that help makes you strong.” It’s the hidden scars – the mental ones of war – that Chaps is now fighting and trying to bring to light.
Chaps, who flew in from San Antonio for the event, has most recently used his social media to send out messages to his fan base to donate funds to our cause at Tee It Up for the Troops. Chaps’ show and Barstool Sports as a whole have been doing this sort of thing for a few years. Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy accepted Chaps’ challenge on a previous pledge drive for mental health care for veterans and it matched Chaps’ fundraising efforts which led to a total of over $200K. Chaps and his fans are thrilled to help causes like these in any way they can.
Watch Chaps and the other veteran heroes and participants in the Longest Day of Golf.
Heroes On and Off the Course
Chaps spent much of the day golfing and raising funds alongside Kriesel and Tim Nelson. Kriesel and Nelson were in the same vehicle on December 2, 2006, when a roadside bomb near Fallujah, Iraq, cost Kriesel his legs, injured Nelson, and killed two fellow soldiers and friends.
John Kriesel, a Purple Heart recipient and retired National Guard Staff Sergeant, is currently a Director of Veteran Services in the Twin Cities. He is also a part-time contributor on KFAN Sports Radio and a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Kriesel’s drive and motivation were heightened that day in 2006 when he was nearly blown to shreds by a 200-pound roadside bomb in the parched sands of Iraq. He lost both legs and suffered numerous other major injuries. He is the author of “STILL STANDING: The Story of SSG John Kriesel,” winner of eight national book awards.
Former National Guard Staff Sergeant, Tim Nelson, who was Kriesel’s roommate and squad leader in Iraq, was in the Humvee seat behind him when it ran over the IED and was also injured. Nelson flew with Kriesel to the military hospital in Balad, Iraq, and held his hand when Kriesel’s survival was in doubt. Nelson received the Purple Heart from this attack.
Dedicated Patriots Participate Each Year
Many other veterans were not as “lucky” as Kriesel, Nelson, Chaps and others. “Those veterans are the reason for the “Longest Day of Golf” and why patriots participate each year knowing their efforts are helping to make a positive difference in the lives of veterans who need it,” said Pat Reis, Tournament Director.
This year’s event reached an all-time high in fundraising. Team “Johnny D” led by John Deedrick, whose family has served in the military in past generations and worked in the defense industry, was the leaderboard winner for fundraising. Robert McGinty’s team conquered the most holes played for the day at 132. Many other devoted Longest Day Golfers reinforced the day’s success. Over the last eight years, the Longest Day of Golf for the Troops at Bunker Hills has raised over $165,000.
Wounds After War
Tee It Up for the Troops is a nonprofit that helps veterans heal from the visible and invisible wounds of war that have impacted veteran and their families. “This is a great organization and a great cause,” Chaps tweeted. “After getting wounded myself, my close Marine friends were a lifeline. That doesn’t stop after service.”
Thank you to all who participated and for your efforts to make this event a huge success in support of America’s veterans!