Wounded Warriors Honored

It’s a long way from the war in the Middle East to the Patuxent River. But that is where a number of our brave and wounded veterans found themselves on August 7. On that day, the U.S. Power Squadrons of Northern Virginia, Rockville and the Patuxent River hosted a Wounded Warrior Cruise for veterans who are recovering from their wounds at the Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir medical facilities.

A group of 42, including veterans, their families and friends, joined us for a day of cruising and for an afternoon barbeque. In what has become an annual event since 2008 when George Degnon, past commander of the Northern Virginia Sail and Power Squadron, started the program, the Power Squadrons honor veterans who have been wounded in action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We welcome our wounded warriors to this day on the water, we thank them for their service to our country and we try to give them a few moments where they can forget their troubles and enjoy the truly remarkable treasures that we have on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries,” said current commander George Nartsissov.

The squadrons assembled a fleet of 11 vessels, including both power and sail boats. Captains, crew and guests were free to explore the Patuxent River or the Chesapeake Bay at their leisure; the only direction was that our guests were to have a good time. Some chose to take the helm while others just sat back and enjoyed the beautiful day, the extraordinary scenery and the welcome relaxation. At the end of the day, we gathered for a barbeque hosted by Patuxent Naval Air Station.

It is typical of veterans who have sacrificed so dearly to preserve our freedoms to be humble. They speak of their wounds and their trauma only if asked and prefer to talk about their enjoyment of meeting new friends and sharing special moments together with them and their families. One veteran told me, as he sat in the shade during our afternoon meal, that he thoroughly enjoyed himself and that he had no intention of leaving anytime soon. “I am staying right here, sir,” he said. “This has been a beautiful day. Thank you so much.” That a wounded warrior would thank us for thanking them in this manner was truly remarkable.

The mission of the U.S. Power Squadron (www.nvsps.org) is to promote boating safety through training and information.

–Frank Shults for the Northern Virginia Sail and Power Squadron