Vietnam War Battle Buddies Reunite After 47 Years

Terry Branham served 26 years of active duty in the U.S. Army and retired as a Colonel and Master Army Aviator. His service included conflicts in Vietnam, the Gulf War and the U.S. Drug War in South America as an Attack Helicopter Pilot. Among his many awards are several medals for valor, including a distinguished flying cross, a bronze star and silver star. This is Retired Colonel Terry Branham’s REUNION story. 

A man, who was like a kindred brother to me, was lost and could not be found.

Let me take you back to June 1970 and how we were separated on the battlefield.  Mike and I were both flying different missions in Cambodia.  Mike was flying an OH-6 LOH aircraft that searched for the enemy and then Cobra attack helicopters would attack the enemy when the OH-6 was taking fire. Mike’s aircraft was struck in a barrage of ground-to-air gunfire and Mike was shot in the right elbow and leg. With an injured leg and an inoperable arm, he was unable to fly the aircraft and the helicopter crashed. Mike and his crew chief survived the crash but once outside the aircraft they were under fire. Somehow, they were able to run to cover and later were rescued by helicopter and whisked back to the base hospital. Mike, running on the leg with a bullet that sheared his femur, caused the femur bone to jam upwards past the break in the bone. I heard of his incident and asked every day to be released to go see him back at our base Cu Chi Hospital. Three days later, I was back from my mission and was able to see Mike at the base hospital. He was in a full-body cast, needed traction, and reconstructive surgery. He was being medically evacuated back to the states and that is the last time I saw Mike for almost five decades.

Over the years, we tried to find each other, however, without the internet, and with a name change for Mike and a military top-secret security clearance for myself, trying to track each other down proved impossible.  It wasn’t until four years ago, through another veteran, that I learned Mike was still alive and I was able to obtain his contact information.

REUNION Program and Long-Awaited Phone Call 

With many Vietnam memories and emotions coming back to the surface, I was finally ready to pick up the phone and contact Mike.  After a few phone conversations, I had an unbelievable opportunity to invite Mike to REUNION, a Tee It Up for the Troops outreach program that reunites combat veterans and helps them heal and work through the hidden wounds of war including anxiety, depression, isolation, and suicide.

REUNION is hosted in a secure and relaxing resort environment, Reunion Resort, in  Kissimmee, Florida. If you are selected to attend REUNION, it is an all-expenses-paid trip including accommodations for you, your combat buddy, spouses or caregivers. Participants not only reconnect with those who are most trusted, they also develop new friendships and support networks to help them heal, transition, grow, and thrive. Mike and I both benefited from therapeutic time talking, participation in a variety of helpful breakout sessions, and playing some golf. Our spouses were able to meet, spend time together and benefited from peer support and educational sessions.

My Reunion with Mike

After not seeing my Vietnam combat brother for 47 years, I felt a wave of emotion when I saw and hugged him again at REUNION.  It’s how I picture heaven and reuniting with family members whom we have not seen for years.

We spent many hours sharing our post-Vietnam life stories which we wished we had been able to share throughout the years.  We reminisced with stories about our shared combat actions and the good things we believed we were doing for our fellow brothers in arms. We shared pictures of our time in combat.  We laughed about the same things that had made us laugh back then – taking away the tears we both shed when we were separated by Mike’s medical evacuation.

I was relieved that Mike had recovered and made a great life for himself. However, I had unresolved issues that hung over me for all those 47 years that aggravated the harsh, negative side effects of war for me.  What could have been different if I were flying with him that day? What would have happened?  I now had answers to the prayers I said for Mike so many times – prayers that he would live the full and happy life that he so deserved. I also had the foundation of a strong new friendship with a person who understood exactly what it meant to put your life on the line in service of your combat brothers and country.

A New Friendship and Inspiration Forged

Before leaving REUNION, Mike and I pledged to honor our friendship by staying in touch and continuing to share our lives and plan more activities together, and we are doing just that.  We go fishing together for a week every summer and talk about all the things brothers talk about.  It has inspired me to finally write about my experiences in Vietnam and all I learned about myself as a man and a warrior. Those long-ago experiences steeled me to be a leader who cared about the men and women I served with as much as I cared about my family.

Warriors make families. Warriors truly know what life is about. We know it isn’t about stuff. It’s about relationships…like those very meaningful relationships at REUNION that get rekindled, help you to heal, and bring new friendships and meaning into your life.


Learn more about REUNION.  Connect and reunite with a fellow combat veteran or to help veterans survive on the home-front and get back on course by sponsoring the event.

Tee It Up for the Troops Named 2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits

Tee It Up for the Troops Named 2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit by GreatNonprofits

Award Based on Outstanding Online Reviews

Tee It Up for the Troops, with their national headquarters in Burnsville, Minn.,  announced today it has been named a “2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit” by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews of charities and nonprofits.

Tee It Up for the Troops provides critically needed services to combat veterans and their families and has hosted more than 500 fundraising events in over 40 states over the last 15 years, allowing the non-profit organization to donate over $10 million to veteran service organizations.

“We are honored to be named a Top-Rated 2019 Nonprofit,” says Tim Wegscheid, President & Executive Director for Tee It Up for the Troops. “We are humbled that so many veterans, family members, donors, volunteers and supporters took time to tell others how the Tee It Up for the Troops mission is impacting their lives. This award is incredibly special to us, in this, our 15th anniversary of dedicated service to support all those who serve(d) in the Armed Forces of our great nation.”

The Top-Rated Nonprofit award was based on the large number of positive reviews that Tee It Up for the Troops received – reviews written by volunteers, donors, and military veterans and family member aid recipients. People posted their personal experiences with the nonprofit.

For example, one combat veteran wrote, “After losing my leg in Iraq to a rocket propelled grenade, I needed a goal and direction. Tee It Up for the Troops helped me to set a goal with a sport that I can continue for a lifetime.” Another supporter wrote, “Tee It Up for Troops is in the life changing business!! They are selfless servants of our military community. Always giving of themselves to make other lives better. They have definitely changed our lives!!”

“Savvy donors want to see the impact of their donations more than ever,” said Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits. “People with direct experience with Tee It Up for the Troops have voted that the organization is making a real difference.”

GreatNonprofits is the leading website where people share stories about their personal experiences on more than 1.6 million charities and nonprofits. The GreatNonprofits Top-Rated Awards are the only awards for nonprofits determined by those who have direct experience with the charities – as donors, volunteers and recipients of aid.

To read about our five star ratings, reviews and add your own review if interested, please visit: https://greatnonprofits.org/org/tee-it-up-for-the-troops-inc

Event SPOTLIGHT: Mendakota Country Club Event – The event that started it all 15 years ago!

Anniversaries are a time to commemorate how we started and celebrate where we are going.

In September of 2005, Tee It Up for the Troops began with one event at Mendakota Country Club in Mendota Heights, Minnesota and started raising funds and awareness for injured veterans in that inaugural year. This year, on the 15th Anniversary of Tee It Up for the Troops and the Mendakota event, more than 60 events will take place which has allowed us to donate over $10,000,000 since inception for critically needed services for veterans.

Tee It Up for the Troops is all about the PEOPLE. The people who launched this organization 15 years ago, the wonderful veterans connected with our mission and the people who continue to commit volunteer time and talent to our charity events. For the Mendakota Country Club event, the person that rallies the troops of enthusiastic volunteers and sponsors is Rick Dale. Passionate, personal and patriotic describe Rick’s committed character.

“My initial involvement to lead one of the golf events was based on our youngest son who was stationed in a very bad place in the northern Helmund Province in Afghanistan,” said Rick. “Once I started meeting other Tee It Up for the Troops volunteers, employees and the veterans we serve, I got more passionate about it. Then I got to meet the leaders and beneficiaries of the organizations we donate funds to and got hooked. I still remember the first time we visited the Minneapolis VA Hospital where the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) houses and counsels formerly homeless veterans. Listening to the many veterans we meet, it’s easy to get passionate about our mission.”

We are fortunate that Rick is a leader and spokesperson for Tee It Up for the Troops. He not only chairs the Mendakota Country Club event, but he also leads the event at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club in Lakeville, MN held in September.

Rick served in the United States Air Force from 1967 to 1971. He is the son of a WWII Army officer, son-in-law of a WWII Naval officer, brother to five veterans that served from the Korean Conflict through the Vietnam War. He and his wife, Sue, are parents of US Marine Corp Staff Sergeant Eric Dale, who is now assigned to the United States Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus.

There are several key long-time volunteers and sponsors at the annual Mendakota event that make this event exceptional each year. One of those volunteers is Sue Bonfe, a Mendakota Golf Club Member, who interfaces with the club, has a strong passion for older veterans and hosted a special Thanksgiving turkey meal for eight WWII vets and ten Korean war vets as a way of thanking them for their service. The laughter and chatter in the room were non-stop and veterans that hadn’t met before shared their experiences and life stories and left talking about next year.

Tyler Ball

“My father was in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII and since he passed away, I found that volunteering at Tee It Up for the Troops is the best way I can honor his life,” said Sue. “Our members have the chance to meet and share their golf course with many of the wonderful veterans who have experienced tremendous physical and mental challenges. By giving time and funds to this event, I get back much, much more than I can even imagine. I know that I am directly helping improve a veteran’s life. I love that such a high percentage of funds (95% I believe) raised goes directly to the deserving veteran organizations.”

Tee It Up for the Troops is an organization conceived by the parents of a soldier. One of the originators of Tee It Up for the Troops shared this comment in celebration of the 15th anniversary:

“In 2005, our son was serving in Iraq.  When we asked him what he needed, his response was ‘Forget about me, do something for those back home.’ That simple request became the genesis of Tee It Up for the Troops.  Fifteen years later we are humbled that the organization is still honoring that request. Initially created with our family and friends, it was soon followed by sponsors, volunteers, and citizens across the country that were moved to honor the mission to serve those who serve.” -Parents of a Soldier

The event that started it all – Mendakota! Fifteen years and countless volunteer hours per year later, with a volunteer board of directors and small staff to oversee a dedicated army of event leaders, volunteers, sponsors and supporters numbering in the hundreds, Tee It Up for the Troops continues to march forward on its mission of  providing critically needed services for combat veterans and their families, one event at a time.

 

Event SPOTLIGHT: Peoria Illinois

Now in its 11th year, Central Illinois Tee It Up for the Troops offers area golfers a day on the golf course to work on their game while helping American military veterans. But this local fundraising tournament in Peoria, IL is about much more than golf: it’s about giving back to those who have given so much to us.

Founded in 2009 by event coordinators Dr. Frank Benningfield and Steve Carver, the Central Illinois Tee It Up for the Troops event is now organized by Bill Kraft, Jeff Kohlbus along with an executive committee of seven members. What makes this tournament unique is the event is played on two courses approximately four miles apart and has both a morning and afternoon session.

Every August, the organization hosts its annual Golf Classic at the Mt. Hawley Country Club and Country Club of Peoria for a day of fun, camaraderie and remembrance. With exclusive access to the green in the morning, military veterans are invited to share their stories with their foursome while enjoying a round of golf. In last summer’s event, 240 military personnel, past and present, golfed in morning free with all expenses paid for by event sponsors, including the title sponsor, Zanfel Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac Wash.

In the afternoon, high school JROTC teams present the colors, a soloist sings the national anthem saluting our fallen heroes, local families memorialize lost loved ones and the public is offered a chance to personally thank the servicemen and women.  Local service club members volunteer as pin holders at both the morning and afternoon sessions. During the afternoon session, another 240 players including sponsors fill up two different golf courses, Mt Hawley Country Club and the Country Club of Peoria. Despite a heat advisory, there was a great turnout and golfers took to the links for a good cause.  The evening festivities host over 700 people.

Central Illinois Tee It Up for the Troops saves the serious golfing for the serious tournaments and they have fun at this event! American Anthem Vodka set up tables at each course and provided samples of their products in Bloody Mary’s and screwdrivers. Local restaurants, including Buffalo Wild Wings and Qdoba set up food stations during the rounds and gave away their products. Every Par-3 on both courses had a hole in one contest featuring either cash or a car and Dixon Golf sponsored a Par-3 Contest where players could win golf balls and receive certificates worth up to $150 in products.

When asked what inspires him to continue leading this event for our military and veteran organizations, Bill Kraft answered “I continue to serve as event coordinator because I believe it is proper to honor and remember those who have served and are currently serving in our Armed Forces. I enjoy the challenges of bringing together 480 golfers in one day at two different courses and the gratitude our veterans show us for putting on this event in Peoria.”

Bill was presented with a “Patriot Award” for his years of commitment, passion and patriotism displayed in the Peoria Illinois Tee It Up for the Troops events.

“The National Office of Tee It Up for the Troops and its staff, is a tremendous resource for us and all of the affiliated events throughout the country and we would like to thank them for the support they provide,” Bill added.

Bill has been an instrumental part of the Central Illinois Tee It Up for the Troops tournament for 10 years. He was asked to oversee the overflow of participants at the first event in 2009 when a second course was added to accommodate the response from the community. He was offered a position on the executive committee the following year and since just keeps looking forward to offering a unique event aimed at honoring our veterans who have served our country to insure the freedoms enjoyed in the United States.

To date, Central Illinois Tee It Up for the Troops has raised nearly $1,000,000 to benefit both national and local organizations committed to serving veterans and their families. The 2018 event alone brought in $50,000. In the Peoria area, proceeds benefit the Goodwill’s Gen. W.A. Downing Shelter for Homeless Vets, South Side Office of Concern Veterans Haven (a second local shelter for homeless veterans) and Fuller Center of Central Illinois (dedicated to helping military veteran homeowners make repairs on their homes). The group also donates a portion of funds to the national Tee It Up for the Troops organization where Disabled Sports USA, Fisher House, Hope for the Warriors, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Warrior Canine Connection among other veteran service organizations receive proceeds.

This year’s golf classic is set to take place on August 26, 2019. For more information visit: www.teeitupforthetroopsil.org or www.teeitupforthetroops.com

Partner Organization SPOTLIGHT: Military Brotherhood Radio

Military Broadcast Radio (MBR) is a non-profit internet radio station (www.MBRadio.us) providing entertainment, information, and support to the military community.  They offer military veterans, active troops, and everyone music of different genres, world news, along with helpful tips of everyday life of a civilian or active military personnel around the world.

Joel Hunt is MBR’s CEO and Show Host of the “H-Train.” As an Army veteran, who was injured during a deployment, Joel has seen his fair share of tough times. His third deployment ended in Baqubah, Iraq after suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and partial leg paralyzation. After returning home, his parents encouraged him to try a military ski camp, specifically for victims of TBIs, as part of his rehab. He ultimately became a US and world ranked adaptive skier and qualified for the World Cup and the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia.  Joel retired from skiing after a neck injury and lives in Denver, Colorado where he’s dedicated to helping fellow veterans through MBR. He has been featured in numerous TV news segments, radio and in magazines across the country, from USA Today to The Hollywood Reporter and The American Genius.

MBR also provides military veterans with information on programs and organizations who give assistance to veteran’s specific needs. The H-Train Show has developed a great resource page () that includes nonprofits that help veterans that is based on evaluation of 990 forms, GuideStar reviews and reviews by veterans themselves.

Joel has coordinated MBR on-air interviews with spokespersons from Tee It Up for the Troops to spread the word of our organization and he is a great supporter and partner with Tee It Up for the Troops.

“I used to make fun of the game of golf because I knew nothing about it. I didn’t realize that golf, like skiing, was an outlet to help me through my mother’s death, channel my anger, help my PTSD and help calm me down,” said Joel. “Tee It Up for the Troops is like my family and it’s an honor to name them as a Title Sponsor on our radio station.”

Thank you, Joel, and the MBR team for sharing our mission over the air waves! We love what you are doing every day to support our veterans!

Listen to see how MBR is giving veterans information on needed programs beyond the VA by live-streaming on www.MBRadio.us.

Tee It Up for the Troops now enrolled in Thrivent Financial’s Choice program!

We are pleased to inform you that Tee It Up for the Troops is now enrolled in Thrivent Choice, a platform for Thrivent members to have a financial impact on the causes and nonprofits they care about. If you or someone you know one are one of Thrivent’s more than 2.3 million members, we would certainly appreciate you choosing to direct Choice Dollars and/or your personal donations to Tee It Up for the Troops!

Together we make a difference!

Learn more about the Thrivent Choice program here.

Grant Recipient SPOTLIGHT: Warfighter Sports, a division of Disabled Sports USA.

Disabled Sports Clinic

Warfighter Sports, a division of Disabled Sports USA and a long-time partner of Tee It Up for the Troops, has provided over 12,000 wounded warriors and families with opportunities to participate in more than 50 different sports since 2003 free of charge.

#SkiSpec, which is hosted by Disabled Sports USA at the Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, Colorado is one of the nation’s largest winter sports festivals for people with disabilities. The programs offered during this week-long event include learn to ski and snowboard lessons, a week-long race camp, nordic skiing, sled hockey and more. This year more than 100 wounded military veterans, service members, family and military medical staff from the U.S. and Great Britain participated!
Tee It Up for the Troops President, Tim Wegscheid, had this to say about #SkiSpec 2018:
“It was a great honor to spend time this week with many severely wounded combat veterans as they received ski instruction at #SkiSpec. It is so inspiring to watch these American heroes who have suffered amputations, paralysis, blindness, and many other injuries in service to our country get out on the slopes and “back in the game!” The smiles and camaraderie that surround this event is reaffirming that our support for Warfighter Sports, a program of Disabled Sports USA, is money very well donated!”

Event SPOTLIGHT: SeaCliff Tee It Up for the Troops and Serve It Up for the Troops Fundraising Events Break All Records!

The red carpet rolled out for all of the guests.

 

Located in Huntington Beach, California, the SeaCliff Tee It Up and Serve It Up for the Troops events are the most successful fundraising events held to date for Tee It Up for the Troops. Since 2011, SeaCliff Tee It Up for the Troops has raised more than $1.5 million in support of all those who serve(d) in the United States Armed Forces.

Why are the events held at SeaCliff Country Club so successful? Well, like all great events, the people involved make the difference…but SeaCliff has another secret to share.  In addition to hitting golf balls in support of military troops and their families, they hit and serve up tennis balls in gratitude and appreciation for the sacrifices made by our bravest. SeaCliff’s Serve It Up for the Troops is the first and, so far, only tennis tournament raising funds for Tee It Up for the Troops nationally. The 2018 tennis tournament aced over $123,000!

Tennis Tournament

The first Serve It Up for the Troops tournament at SeaCliff was held in 2013 with about 25 players and $5,000 being raised. Last year, 138 players participated in the two-day mixed doubles tournament with a 20-fold increase in profit, making SeaCliff’s tennis tournament one of the top fundraising events overall for Tee It Up for the Troops. Kristi Serrano, Chairperson for SeaCliff Serve It Up for the Troops, says this is the biggest tennis tournament in Huntington Beach and draws players from all over Orange County. “There are lots of people who aren’t golfers that want to participate and support our military, and this gives them another option. We also have some community members that play in both the tennis and golf events.”

Attending “Heroes” at the Tennis event.

Serve It Up for the Troops festivities included an inspirational exhibition match featuring wheelchair-bound veterans playing against high level players, a Raise It Up for the Troops party and dinner held on the main court, silent and live auction, live band and dancing. Around 300 people attended the beautiful, sit down dinner event.

Kristi knows all too well the hard work that goes into an event this size…especially when you learn one week out that the program speaker you’ve

planned on can’t make the event. “So, I called in the Marines and like true Marines, they came through and pointed me towards Derek Herrera from the Marine Raider Foundation,” Kristi explained.  Captain Derek Herrera, a Marine paralyzed from the chest down by a sniper in Afghanistan and

Purple Heart and Bronze Star for bravery recipient, became the honored guest speaker.  Kristi says people were blown away with Derek’s moving talk, wiping tears away, and wanting to donate more money. “This is why we are all here. As a former military wife with a child, I know how hard it is for our soldiers and their families to be separated by time and countries, not to mention the injuries many sustain.  I urge everyone to get involved … we can never have enough volunteers. Start a Serve It Up event in your community. After Derek spoke, I said I am ALL IN for next year’s event.”  (Read more about Derek Herrera’s story here.)

Golf Tournament

The 7th annual Tee It Up for the Troops golf tournament at SeaCliff was held on August 20, 2018 and was wildly successful with net proceeds of $175,000 and 140 golfers. The SeaCliff event committee prides itself on being the number one fundraising event for Tee It Up for the Troops in terms of proceeds and size.

Leslie Mayes, Chairperson for SeaCliff’s Tee It Up for the Troops explained what makes their event unique, “Players enjoyed pre-tournament activities after checking in with their 1-1 personal concierge who walked them through the check-in process and schedule of events. An opening observance and tribute to our nation and military, complete with ceremonial bagpipes and a T-34 aircraft flyover, kicked off the golf tournament with ABC news anchor, Phillip Palmer, serving as master of ceremonies. During the tournament, the pin flags are manned by active duty military and  long drive Pro Kyle Warren, who’s Navy father recently passed away from exposure to Agent Orange, could be called upon to hit a big one down the middle.  A Meet

Attending “Heroes” at the Golf event.

the Heroes Reception featuring cocktails and a silent auction followed golf and the day ended with a dinner, speaker Sue Pollard, National President for Gold Star Moms, and live auction.”  When asked what inspires her to Chair this tournament, Leslie added, “When you see who you help…all the wounded veterans on property and military organizations that need our help… we do it for them because they are protecting our freedoms and we need to give back to them.”

SeaCliff’s first Tee It Up for the Troops event was started by Mark Mayes, Leslie’s husband, in 2011 with the help of Retired Air Force Lieutenant General George Muellner, both SeaCliff members. Mark, President of the California Chapter for Tee It Up for the Troops, had this advice when asked why the event is so successful. “We are super fiscal with our money and no one gets a free ride. Everyone pays to play…except for our military… each warrior is sponsored. We also get our volunteers very engaged and we make it fun for them…it’s their tournament.” What keeps Mark coming back each year to help with the event? “I have several faces in my mind right now… one wounded Marine looked at me and he thanks me with tears in his eyes for helping the warriors. I’m getting chocked up just thinking about it. We do it for the warriors and it’s just very rewarding,” Mark said.

Zach Martinez stands by the American flag he raised in Huntington Beach on Memorial Day 2010.

This year’s event honored Veteran Zach Martinez, who after rallying for a permanent memorial (Patriot Point) on the bluffs of Huntington Beach with the help of SeaCliff Tee It Up for the Troops, passed away from an illness. SeaCliff Tee It Up and Serve It Up for the Troops raised money for 10 non-profit organizations this past year including larger groups such as Warrior Foundation Freedom Station and Fisher House and local non-profits like Operation Surf, Patriot Point and Junior Amateur Golf Scholars (JAGS).

The Lemonade Stand that raised $200!

The SeaCliff Country Club and its community all join to support this weekend event…even the kids! Near hole #7, you could find a lemonade stand run by 11-year old Maddie Rhoads. This was Maddie’s second year selling lemonade to the golfers and she has donated over $200 to Tee It Up for the Troops from her lemonade stand. This year, Maddie was joined by Daphne Mayes, Mark and Leslie’s five-year-old granddaughter, to help continue the family’s commitment to Tee It Up.  Thanks to Maddie’s caring heart, and the passion and hearts of all the volunteers and supporters of this event, SeaCliff’s Tee It Up and Serve It Up for the Troops to help military troops and their families is just a bit sweeter.

We are also pleased to share that as a special tribute to all that Mark and Leslie Mayes have done for Tee It Up for the Troops, they were presented with a “Patriot Award” for their years of commitment, passion and patriotism displayed in the Seacliff Tee It Up & Serve It Up for the Troops events.  Mark and Leslie, thank you for leading the way to help support Veterans and their families!

Event SPOTLIGHT: Dataw Island’s Week Long Veterans Celebration supports Tee It Up for the Troops!

Dataw Island’s week-long Veterans Celebration thanked our Veterans of the Armed Forces in many joyous ways. The week kicked off with members lining 2.5 miles of roadways with 3,500 flags to set a patriotic ambiance on the island and the inspirational Opening Ceremony paid tribute to our Nation, the men and women of our military, and our cherished freedoms.

This year, the week-long event raised $53,775 (with donations still trickling in). Funds will be distributed to Tee It Up for the Troops and various other local veterans’ organizations.

Chris Fearn’s one-man Golf Marathon, which supported Tee It Up for the Troops, was an unbelievable battle of determination by Chris who fought the rain and wind elements under cart path only conditions and set a new, personal record of 227 holes golfed in one day!

Spotting for him, cheering him on, and occasionally holding an umbrella or drying a ball while he played through afternoon squalls, member volunteers were critical to his success of completing an astounding 227 holes! Fearn also attributes his success to the many veterans who came out to support him, several of whom he has coached for three years now as part of the On-Course Foundation’s Simpson Cup Team.

“It really is motivating to look over and see these guys here supporting me,” Fearn said. “I’m always so humbled for the opportunity to serve them in return for all they have done for us.”

The day concluded with a celebratory dinner provided by the Disabled American Veterans. Attendees were treated to a Lowcountry feast and enjoyed meeting many of the honored guests, including the Guests of Honor, DeWitt Osborne, of the Salute Military Golf Association and Jason Faircloth, founder of the Disable Golf Association of America, the first organization of its kind.

Tuesday kicked off with the Veterans March and Rally. Complete with a march of more than 100 veterans from all branches of the service, presentation of the colors, and a heartfelt performance of patriotic songs, including each of the armed service songs from each military branch and a beautiful rendition of our national anthem, performed by the Dataw Singers, a choral group led by Dataw member Tim McGrath.

A golf tournament for veterans of all ages and their supporters was played on Tuesday on both of the Dataw Island Golf Courses. The Veterans Golf Classic supports Tee it Up for the Troops with beneficiaries such as the Fisher House, Warfighter Sports, the On-Course Foundation, and the Warrior Canine Connection, to name just a few.

“Something magical happens when playing golf-hitting that little white ball down the fairway with your buddies pays therapeutic values and life lasting dividends for America’s wounded, disabled and injured warriors,” said event chair Col. Glenn Blackburn, US Army Ret. “It teaches them that they can improvise, adapt and overcome their disability and achieve success. Dataw Island provides a wonderful venue for them to ignite and display happiness.”

After a fun round of golf, attendees convened at a luncheon to celebrate the service and sacrifice of many men and women, which featured testimonies provided by wounded veterans, including an inspiring presentation by DeWitt, who told the teary-eyed crowd a story many of them could relate to all-too-well – a story of challenge, adversity, perseverance, and overcoming. Dataw was honed by the SCGA with the presentation of a framed flag and plaque. Another highlight each year is the presentation of the Quilt of Valor; this year, the labor of love was given to DeWitt as a thank you for his service and sacrifice. Dave Luzzi emceed the presentation of a patriotic golf bag to Bob Hopkins in recognition for all he does each year to serve fellow veterans.

The week was completed by a Veterans Breakfast with Col. Glenn Blackburn serving as speaker. Blackburn spoke about the evolution of Dataw Island’s efforts in support of veterans, including the contributions to helping wounded or disabled veterans regain their confidence and independence through the game of golf.

Michele Weaber, also a Dataw member, brought the crowd of veterans and their spouses to tears with an emotive reading of the poem, “Forever Proud and Free,” a reading which has been more than a year in the making. Prior to his passing, 2017 Veteran of the Year Jack Cummings had personally requested the reading.

A moment of silence was also held to honor Dataw veterans who have passed.

Another highlight included the naming of this year’s Dataw Island Veteran of the Year … Jim Morrissey! Morrissey has played an integral part in Dataw’s events and contributions for veterans in recent years. Morrissey served in the US Army through Vietnam and then, as a civilian, worked at LaGuardia Airport and was the first of his counterparts to make the call to shut down operations during the 9/11 attacks, quite possibly saving more lives.

Al Sears, also a Dataw member, was also recognized for his continued contributions. Presenting the award was event emcee Bo Tobin, who also thanked Bob “Hoppy” Hopkins for his ongoing contributions, and Dataw staff, particularly Dave Britton and Chris Fearn.

This year, SC Gov. Henry McMaster also made a Proclamation to name Nov. 6 as “Tee It Up for the Troops Day.” Col. Blackburn presented the Proclamation to Britton to hang in the Pro Shop for all to ap

Thank you Tee It Up for the Troops-Dataw Island organizers, volunteers, sponsors, supporters and veterans for your support of the Tee It Up for the Troops mission to honor, remember, respect and support all those who serve(d) in the Armed Forces of the United States and for helping our heroes! What a great Veterans Week of events!

Pledge your support to Chris and the “100 Holes of Golf” Marathon to support Tee It Up for the Troops!

Fellow Patriot,

Chris Fearn, Assistant Golf Pro Dataw Island Club, will be “stepping up to the tee” to golf “100 Holes of Golf” to support all those who serve(d) in the Armed Forces and needs your support! Chris’ goal is to raise $50,000 in support of the mission of Tee It Up for the Troops and his Heroes. In addition to supporting all those who serve with your tax-deductible donation, you will be entered into cumulative prize drawings based on your donation amount! Prizes are listed below or can be found via the following links:

Learn more and make your on-line donation via the following link: https://goo.gl/CiLHkm 

CLICK HERE to learn more and to mail in your donation.

Chris’s story:

Five years ago, when Chris began helping to run the Veteran’s Day event to support disabled Veterans, he was very moved by the disabled veterans that were their guests. Chris said, “the positive outlook that they have on life was so encouraging. Spending time with each one of them really motivated me and made me look at life in a different way. I knew then, that I wanted to do more to help.”

Chris Fearn, Assistant Golf Pro

When Chris came up with the idea of doing a golf marathon he had no idea the impact it was going to have, or how many individuals it would touch and help. The impact is what motivates him to continue to do a golf marathon every year which Chris says “is easy compared to the sacrifice of all those who serve(d). This is the least I can do for them!” When Chris gets tired while playing “100 Holes of Golf” he looks at the picture of his uncle who was killed in the Vietnam War, the picture of Dave Bagby a friend and disabled Veteran who passed away, or he just looks around at the disabled veterans that come out to support him and that is all the motivation he needs to keep going.

Chris will be “stepping up to the tee” at Dataw Island Club in St. Helena Island, South Carolina to play “100 Holes of Golf” in support of his Heroes and all those who serve(d)! All donations made to the “100 Holes of Golf” Marathon will go to Tee It Up for the Troops whose mission is to honor, remember, respect and support all those who serve(d) in the Armed Forces for our great nation.

 

PRIZE PACKAGES:

  • 9 Hole Club – Minimum $25 donation Your name entered into a drawing for your choice of a Men’s ¼ Zip or Women’s Full Zip jacket.
  • 18 Hole Club – Minimum $50 donation Your name entered into a drawing for a PING stand golf bag. This super lightweight bag has seven pockets for storage.
  • 36 Hole Club – Minimum $100 donation Your name entered into a drawing for a Stay and Play package at Reunion Resort in Orlando, FL.
  • 54 Hole Club – Minimum $250 donation Your name entered into a drawing for a Stay and Play package at the Hammock Beach Resort, along Florida’s Palm Coast.
  • 72 Hole Club – Minimum $500 donation Your name entered into a drawing for your choice from two Stay and Play packages at the beautiful Crystal Springs Resort, located in the rolling farmland of New Jersey.
  • 90 Hole Club – Minimum $750 donation Your name entered into a drawing for a 4 day – 3-night golf package for 4 to beautiful Dataw Island, South Carolina.
  • 100 Hole Club – Minimum $1000 donation Your name entered into a drawing for the Tee It Up for the Troops 8th annual REUNION event, held at the Reunion Resort, Kissimee FL, Jan 10-13, 2019.