Reaching outdoors for veterans

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Tony Tengwall (left) and Earl “Bill” Orr were part of a four generation hunt southwest of Benson on Saturday.

BENSON — Roosters proved as elusive as expected when four generations of a family walked a series of wildlife management areas southwest of Benson last Saturday.

With pheasant numbers down and a sea of corn still waiting to be harvested, it was very difficult to flush roosters.

They had no trouble finding what they really went looking for however.

Tony Tengwall, who organized the hunt, calls it “recreational therapy.’’

A 1998 Benson High School graduate, Tengwall is vice president of an all-volunteer, non-profit organization known as the Wounded Warriors Guide Service. It offers free hunting and fishing trips to military veterans. Its focus is the stress relief, the mental recovery that is provided by outdoor activities.

Eleven-year-old Jack Howard of Renville was the group’s youngest hunter.

Tengwall deployed to Baghdad, Iraq with the Minnesota Army National Guard, 1st Battalion — 151st Field Artillery in 2004-05.

When he returned, he took advantage of opportunities to go fishing and hunting at a cabin near Ely. It helped him a lot, he said.

When he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, three soldiers in his company gave their lives in service: Sgt. Jesse Lhotka, Staff Sgt. David Day, and 1st Lt. Jason Timmerman.

Now it’s important to Tengwall that other veterans realize the same benefits that fishing and hunting offered him.

The four generation hunters ranged in age from 11 to 90. The senior member was Tengwall’s grandfather, Earl “Bill’’ Orr, a Word War II Navy veteran.

Thanks to his role in Wounded Warriors, Tengwall was able to bring along an Action Trackchair for his grandfather. The electric-powered, tracked “chair’’ allowed Orr to stay in line with the entire group of 13 other hunters as they walked the fields.

It was a group you wanted to keep up with, as there was no shortage of stories and good-natured jabs to hear. It was the first time ever all 14 of the four generations in the family got together like this for a pheasant hunt, but they’re sure to be talking about it for a long time to come.

To see photos from other Wounded Warriors hunts, check out: www.facebook.com/woundedwarriorgsuide

 

 

 

 

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