I am a past shooter and annual attendee of the Grand National Quail Hunt (GNQH) in Enid, Oklahoma, and have been for more than 30 years. It is a great event and I have had the good fortune to meet, hunt and trade stories with many fine people there over the years.
The GNQH was devised to showcase Oklahoma and attract industry to the state. Attendees make up a group of business people, celebrities, athletes and outdoorspeople, all of whom have impressed me over the years, but none got my attention and admiration more than the year General Norman Schwarzkopf attended. The General attended the 1992 GNQH, fresh from Desert Storm, and not only did I have a chance to meet him, but had a chance to visit with him during a lunch at one of the ranches used during the event.
My entire life I have been very patriotic. Being raised by a family of World War II vets, I obviously could not have been anything else. All of us patriotic Baby Boomers have had a roller coaster ride of pride levels due to some poor leadership. Some of my peaks include when I volunteered to serve my country and was sent to Vietnam and when Ronald Reagan lead our country back to being a proud nation after eight years of disappointments. But none moved me more than watching General Schwarzkopf and his troops decisively kick the hell out of Saddam Hussain and his Republican Guard. I cried for days with pride, stuck my chest out farther when the General spoke on TV, and the action by our troops even made me prouder to be a Vietnam vet.
When I heard the General was going to donate the stars he had worn during Desert Storm along with a letter of Authenticity and they were going to be auctioned at GNQH, I was beside myself. I had to have them.
All I could think of was how many of my toys and guns I would have to sell to own the Generals stars! During the auction, the bid blew by my limit in the first few minutes and a gentleman from California won my stars. He must have had more guns and toys to sell than I did. At least he let me hold them the next day and, as big a fan of the General I was, it was almost enough. The man from California was also a Vietnam vet, so I knew they would have a good home.
When I arrived at the 2015 GNQH I found out the same gentleman from California who had outbid me on the stars before was attending and that he was donating the stars back to the club for fundraising. He had taken care of them for me for 23 years and I would not let them get away again, as this time I had many more guns and toys to sell if I needed.
The stars have been proudly displayed with my military memorabilia the past four years in my game room. I have entertained many vets over the past few years, and when they see the stars and letter I can see their chests bulge and pride in their eyes and it makes it all worthwhile.
I joined Safari Club International, I believe, in the early 1980’s with a little nudge by one of my mentors, Dr. Don McMillian, one great guy and I’m proud to say he was my friend. In 1987 I became the 100th Life Member of SCI and have the original certificate on my game room wall to prove it. This I have always been proud of, and I have always been proud of the work that the many people of SCI do.
When I heard Ollie North was attending the SCI Convention, I decided it was a perfect time for the stars to move on and make more people think about what really makes this nation proud and great. I’m donating them in hopes that the stars raise a handsome sum to help our club carry on its great work.–David Sandstrom, SCI Life Member #100