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    Callaway helps Wounded Warriors heal with gift of golf

    Callaway helps Wounded Warriors heal with gift of golf

    Photo By Sgt. William Begley | Chief Warrant Officer 3 Anthony Smith, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. William Begley 

    3rd Combat Aviation Brigade

    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The golf club manufacturers at Callaway Golf in partnership with Birdies for the Brave gave a special gift to two low country wounded warriors at the Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island April 13.

    Charlie Pannell, formerly an Army Staff Sergeant who was medically retired after 12 years of service and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Anthony Smith, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, were fitted for their own custom set of golf clubs and given a few pointers on the driving range and putting green.

    “It’s the experience of a lifetime. They fitted me with all the irons, drivers, hybrids and putter so I will have a custom set of clubs I can call my own,” Pannell said.

    Pannell was on his third tour in Iraq as a combat engineer in 2008 when he received his injury. His squad of engineers were doing route clearance in Mosul. As they drove through a busy marketplace, they were attacked.

    “Three teenagers ran out with armor piercing grenades and threw them at my vehicle. Myself and three of my Soldiers were critically injured during the attack,” Pannell said.

    Pannell had to have his left leg amputated above the knee. He said he’s looking forward to using the gift he received from the club manufacturer to help him continue on his road to healing.

    “It gives me another purpose in life. I’m going to get outdoors and experience my love of golf again,” Pannell said.

    Still actively serving in the Army and stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., Smith said he was a little overwhelmed with gratitude after going through the experience. Smith was on a convoy in Iraq in 2004 when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated about seven feet from where he was in his vehicle. Smith’s nose was broken, his eardrum ruptured, and he suffered from a traumatic brain injury.

    “We all bear wounds and different scars as Soldiers who have come back from war,” Smith said.

    When asked how he thinks the gift of the clubs will help him to continue to heal he smiled.

    “Golf is something that gets me out amongst the community where I can meet people. Golf to me is very peaceful and I love the opportunity it gives me to experience nature.”

    Giving swing tips and escorting Smith through the process was Steven Mata, tour representative, Callaway Golf. Mata has a personal friend he golfs with who is a wounded warrior from the Vietnam War.

    “It’s an honor and a privilege to work with these guys who have dedicated their life, heart and soul to allow us the freedom to be out here doing what we do on a daily basis,” Mata said. “It’s great to see them smiling when they walk away.”

    It takes a special person to be able to turn a story with a double-amputee into something to smile about. Mata has a gift, one that he happily shares with the wounded warriors he works with.

    Mata told a story of his friend and how he struggled adjusting to life didn’t want to live after losing two limbs. His friend battled with drug and alcohol addiction until he took up golf. He became a two handicapper.

    “We had some pretty good games,” Mata said.

    Laughing, Mata recalled a day when his friend had a rough golf game.

    “It was funny. He hit a bad tee shot on a par three and kicked the tee marker and his leg fell off,” Mata said laughing. “It kind of startled me. You don’t want to think of someone like that, but you know golf gave him a reason to get up off the couch and go play. He still plays every day to this day.”



    Date Taken: 04.13.2015
    Date Posted: 04.20.2015 11:27
    Story ID: 160541

    Web Views: 83
    Downloads: 3