Originally published in Issue 23, October/November 2018
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Story by Joe Semanchik and Chris Hinck Photos by Mark Medici
Wheelers for the Wounded (WFTW) is a non-profit volunteer organization with several branches throughout many states. WFTW – New Jersey takes veterans out for a fun trail day, including breakfast and lunch with their families. The 10th anniversary Appreciation Ride started like every year — volunteers showing up at 0630 to start prepping. The guides and tail gunners went into the trails to do final trail assessment and put up trail markers and then head back for drivers meeting. Breakfast was being served thanks to a generous donation by Classic Bagel.
We had the drivers meeting while we waited for the rest of the vets from Lyons VA Hospital. The Lyons bus arrived at 1000, getting the vets settled, we held the Pledge of the Allegiance, sung the National Anthem, and followed by a Moment of Silence. At 1045, we loaded in the rigs and headed out in four different groups. The trails were washed out by the massive amounts of rain that has pounded the north east earlier in the summer, so we had a spotter and winch rig stationed in strategic areas.
We had a wide variety of rigs, everything from shiny new Jeeps to an old British Land Rover light-weight military truck. The Jeeps only experienced minimal body damage with two flops at the most difficult climb. Around 1430 we got back to base camp, had lunch and started on raffles. At 1500 hours the Lyons bus loaded up and headed back to the VA hospital. It’s always good to get our veterans out for a day on the trails.