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Help us prepare for Warrior's Weekend VII

By BY RON KOCIAN
April 15, 2013 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated April 14, 2013 at 11:15 p.m.

Ron Kocian

On May 17, if everything goes as planned, approximately 400-plus wounded heroes from the global war on terror will arrive in Victoria at Faith Family Church and the Warrior's Weekend Field of Honor to kick off Warrior's Weekend VII. About 275-300 of the heroes will have flown into Bush Airport in Houston, some will drive in, and several charter buses will arrive from Fort Hood. Another 125-150 or so will arrive in Port O'Connor on the morning of May 18 from Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio. This is in addition to approximately 350 or so family members who will accompany the heroes.

After the welcoming ceremony at Faith Family Church at about 3 p.m., all who are here will be taken to Port O'Connor and Port Lavaca, put into lodging and then go to the Port O'Connor Community Center for a huge fish fry. After that, they can go night fishing at the Sanctuary in Port O'Connor or return to their lodging after a trying day. The morning of May 18, these charter buses, 10-11 of them, will then be joined by another seven charter buses from BAMC and go down to Froggie's Bait Dock in Port O'Connor together.

This is where we need your help. As you can well imagine, it will take approximately 350 or more boats to take these heroes fishing May 18. If you are willing to donate your time and boat to these heroes, we are asking that you do so. You don't have to be a great fisherman, just someone who wants to give back to those who have laid it all on the line for our freedom. You can either contact Kelly Parks at kelly-parks@att.net, Russell Hofer at crhfour@yahoo.com or myself at ron_kocian@hotmail.com or 361-550-0187.

After fishing May 18 and after every single fish is weighed and cleaned, the heroes attend a barbecue in their honor back at the Port O'Connor Community Center, where we will have a 12,000-square-foot air conditioned tent set up for their comfort. It is only comfortable because Caterpillar and its distributor HoltCat donate tons of air conditioning and have for the past five years. It is my understanding this year that they are trucking in the units from Indiana just for Warrior's Weekend VII.

Caterpillar has been and remains a mainstay of Warrior's Weekend. What a great community partner it is. We could not do this without the company and cannot thank it enough. Caterpillar "gets it."

Most of you know by now of the Warrior's Weekend Field of Honor and how you can sponsor an American flag in the name of your veteran for $40.

We will post every flag, one by one, May 11 at the field beginning at 9 a.m. The past couple of years, we posted more than 2,000 flags each year. You can go to our website, warriorsweekend.org, for more information and sponsor a flag, if you wish, or you can come by my office at 3603 Miori Lane. Also, please remember to come and view the Field of Honor, especially at night, as it is lighted and taps will be played each night at 9 p.m. It is quite a sight.

We'd also like to ask that folks in Victoria show their support for our heroes with signs and flags, especially along Navarro, Rio Grande and Laurent streets as the hero buses should leave Faith Family Church around 4:30 p.m. and travel south on Navarro, turn left on Rio Grande to Laurent and then proceed toward Bloomington and Port O'Connor. In 2012, the motorcade, including cars and motorcycles, was 14 miles long, according to my lead escort.

So, please, come and greet and thank our heroes at Faith Family and/or Port O'Connor and, if you know anyone with a boat, let them know we could use their help. Thanks again to all of our loyal donors and hundreds of volunteers for making Warrior's Weekend possible. You also "get it."

Together, we are touching and changing lives.

Ron Kocian is president of the Warrior's Weekend organization in Victoria.

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