News: Hawaii wounded warriors participate in golf tournament
Story by Kristen Wong
WAIPAHU, Hawaii — Marines from Wounded Warrior Battalion West — Detachment Hawaii joined more than 80 attendees at the third Annual Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament, hosted at Waikele Country Club, Aug. 20.
More than a dozen wounded warriors from different branches came to play in the tournament, sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton, and benefits the Salute Military Golf Association, a nonprofit based in Olney, Md.
The SMGA provides wounded warriors with golfing opportunities from equipment to instruction. According to the SMGA website, the organization has offered free lessons to almost 600 combat-wounded veterans.
The SMGA’s “mission is to provide rehabilitative golf experiences for combat wounded veterans in an effort to improve the quality of life for these American heroes,” the website reads.
As guests dined on a buffet lunch in the clubhouse, representatives from Booz Allen Hamilton welcomed everyone to the tournament. Although this was the third annual tournament overall, it was the first hosted in Hawaii.
“On behalf of my Booz Allen Hamilton team in Honolulu, I am honored and excited to join with SMGA on this first Honolulu Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament,” said Dennis Gibson, senior vice president for Booz Allen Hamilton in Honolulu.
Col. Nathan I. Nastase, the commanding officer of the 3rd Marine Regiment, and Sgt. Maj. Justin LeHew, sergeant major, 3rd Marines, also played in the tournament. Nastase, of Indiana, Penn., made a few opening remarks during the luncheon.
Nastase remembered being inspired as a child by a visit from then-Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier. Bleier was not only a professional football player, but a wounded warrior as well. He was drafted into the Army and injured his leg while in Vietnam.
“For you wounded warriors and all the people who support wounded warriors, I would like to express my deepest gratitude,” Nastase said. “You inspire us every day. Maybe someday you’re going to walk into a room and some 12-year-old kid is going to be inspired by you, the way I was inspired by Rocky Bleier.”
In addition to active duty service members, there were also retired service members participating in the tournament.
“It’s absolutely wonderful to support our troops and welcome them back home,” said participant Randy Brown, a retired master gunnery sergeant from Burnt Corn, Ala.
The day remained bright and sunny for each team as they played each hole. The wounded warriors were all split up among the teams, so there was at least one wounded warrior in each group.
Gunnery Sgt. Larry Maupin, a wounded warrior with the detachment, said he enjoyed himself at the tournament on Monday. Maupin said golf inspired him to stay active during his recovery.
“Everybody’s been very nice,” said Staff Sgt. Stuart Henderson, a wounded warrior with the detachment.
Henderson said he has not been outdoors since June, while he was recovering at Tripler Army Medical Center. Golf has been a part of his life since childhood, and he came out to have fun.
For more information about the SMGA, visit http://www.smga.org.