Capt. Brent Filson, USMC (Ret.) has not yet reached his 32nd birthday. On Sept. 5, he was honored at the First Vermont Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament and Banquet for what he had experienced in October 2006 when he was 25 years old and a platoon commander on his second combat tour in Iraq.
The event was the first of its kind to be held in Vermont to raise the awareness of the Vermont Wounded Warriors. Captain Filson was joined by 19 of his fellow Wounded Warriors who had served in the military in the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of operation.
A Wounded Warrior was the fourth golfer on each of the foursomes that turned out to play (10 other foursomes made up the full scorecard for the afternoon event). Several of the Wounded Warriors had never swung a golf club before. It didn't matter -- it was not about low score, closest to the pin or longest drive; the outing was about sharing a day of golf with these patriots.
The Wounded Warriors were given their own distinctively colored golf shirts, lest there be no reason to know who the day's honored guests were.
The USO/Liberty Bells, from New York City, one of the event's sponsors, brought their spirit and talents to Manchester. These professional dancers and singers, who give so much of their time and talent in support of the Armed Forces, brought an enormous amount of spirit and gaiety to the event, which was held at the Manchester Country Club.
Upon arrival at the club, the first thing the 160 guests saw was the "Patriot Horse," a life-size wooden sculpture by Rita Dee of Bennington. Ms. Dee was quick to point out that her massive work was aided by 180 middle and high school children and several professional artists. They all assisted in gathering driftwood from the Hudson River. Ms. Dee will soon place the "Patriot Horse" up for auction with all of the proceeds donated to the Wounded Warrior project.
While the original intent of the event, when the 12-member committee first met in January of this year, was to raise the awareness of the plight of the Vermont Wounded Warrior, the outpouring of support -- financial and in-kind -- has been of overwhelming.
The Orvis Company of Manchester provided each Wounded Warrior with a personal fly rod, reel, flies, guidebook and fly-fishing lesson. Plasan North America of Bennington, once they heard of the event, immediately stepped forward and became the tournament's title sponsor.
The J.K. Adams Co. of Dorset, Manchester's Express Copy and Arlington's Artifact Marketing and Design support for the event was truly gratifying.
There were so many others who had come forward with their physical and financial support. It soon became apparent that the event was becoming more than solely an awareness event -- it was also a financial success. And in large part, this was accomplished because of the assistance provided by the tournament committee and the directors, management and staff of the Manchester Country Club.
Brigadier Gen. (Ret.) Jonathan E. Farnham, vice director of the Joint Staff of the Vermont Army National Guard and the banquet keynote speaker, presented substantial financial gifts that evening to support the Vermont Veterans Home, the Dodge House of Rutland (which provides transitional housing for Vermont Homeless Veterans) and to the Rutland City Mission & Veterans shelter.
As would be expected at such an event, there was a great deal of emotion with so many Vermont (and New York) patriots in one room. The emotion reached a high point when General Farnham and Russ Mills, Manchester Country Club's board president, called to the podium Captain Filson.
He was the recipient of the First Annual Manchester Country Club Vermont Wounded Warriors Golf Tournament Plaque. The former Marine Corps officer, husband and father accepted the plaque not for himself but for all of the Wounded Warriors at the event, within Vermont and throughout America.
The tournament's motto summed up the feelings of all who were present Sacrificium Est Sempre Memorabile (Sacrifice Is Always Remembered).
Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington.