By Captain Dave Funk, Past President, Iowa Chapter-SCI
Those were the words silently uttered when Chris Heenan, Lance Cpl. USMC, assigned to the Wounded Warrior Detachment at Fort Sam Houston, Texas thought when his “Gunny” screamed at him to get into the Colonel’s office “NOW!” in early April, 2012. Little did he know that he was just selected to attend a very special shooting school.
That young man, born in Australia into a family of avid hunters and whose parents with him in tow, immigrated to Round Rock, Texas, while he was still a high school student. Upon graduation, Chris joined the Marine Corps and was later granted his American citizenship on July 4, 2011 in Afghanistan while serving his new country. Not long after that, while riding on patrol on Aug. 19 in a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle in South Helmand Providence, Lcpl. Heenan and his fellow Marines were hit by a massive IED. With multiple spinal and traumatic brain injuries, Chris Heenan’s life was changed forever.
Two friends and I booked a September class at the Holland Long Range Shooting School in Powers, Oregon while at the SCI Convention in Reno. A political campaign forced me to delay that trip, and then in September 2011, a serious health scare put that one off. Finally, in April 2012 in College Station, Texas, I sat down in class with 13 other shooters. One of those shooters, 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Heenan, a Purple Heart recipient for his service in Afghanistan, was my fellow member of “Team Blaser.”
Fellow SCI Member Lt. Col. Dave Barns mentioned in a BlaserPro.com forum posting that he uses shooting and hunting, mostly in Texas, to help his combat-wounded Marine heroes to help them recover from their injuries and reintegrate back into the Marine Corps or to civilian life. BlaserPro.com members started supporting his efforts with Blaser rifles, ammo, scopes and shooting gear.
After visiting with Barns, my hunting partner and past SCI Conservation Officer of the Year, Captain Mike Trenholm, and I asked Darrel Holland what it would cost for Mike and me to sponsor one of the Wounded Warriors to his school? Darrel stopped us right there and said he would sponsor one of them himself.
Everett Deger of Hornady Manufacturing made the same commitment, providing the necessary match ammo for the Wounded Warrior attendee.
For four days, under perfect Texas rifle shooting weather: wind, rain, wind, hot sun, blowing dust and did I mention wind? Those 13 shooters worked hard learning ballistics, range estimation using their scope reticles, wind reading, slope calculations and shooting from 350 to 1,000 yards.
Thanks to Hornady, BlaserPro.com and special thanks to Darrel Holland. All of these companies and individuals continue to show their support to our veterans for their service. Mike Trenholm and I, like tens of thousands of other veterans, served our country. Chris Heenan and his fellow Wounded Warriors didn’t just serve, they sacrificed.