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Mustering up hope for Warrior's Weekend

By JR Ortega
April 16, 2010 at 8:03 p.m.
Updated April 15, 2010 at 11:16 p.m.

Iraq veteran and Army medic Corbin Foster holds part of the IED that exploded and  hit the back of his head on Nov. 5, 2005 outside Kirkuk, Iraq. "Combat was a lot more than I thought it would be," said Foster. "Once my buddies started dying, the reality hit home."

Corbin Foster will forever have a constant reminder in the back of his mind about the improvised explosive device blast that almost claimed his life.

That's because the Tennessee native had a piece of shrapnel lodged in the back of his head.

Foster and other wounded soldiers and veterans came out for the Warrior's Weekend muster on Friday to raise money for the main Warrior's Weekend fishing event in Port O'Connor in May.

"It was too much too soon," said the former Army medic, as he talked about the four explosions he was involved in during a six-week span in 2005.

Warrior's Weekend in May will be Foster's first, he said.

"In my case, I don't have the family that maybe is emotionally ready to help me to emotionally and physically recuperate," he said. "I know first-hand that this is helping dozens of soldiers to be able to take a step back and actually see what life is."

It's all about the American heroes, said Ron Kocian, Warrior's Weekend president.

Though the actual Warrior's Weekend event is going on its fourth year, this is the first year for the muster.

"Although we're mostly about wounded heroes and the global war on terror, we are all veterans," he said. "This is a healing thing."

Prior to the event's commencement, Kocian said he had high hopes.

He saw all the trips and items ready to be auctioned off as people ate and participated in raffles and games.

The goal was to raise $40,000 to $50,000, but after seeing the close to 1,200 people arrive, that number may change.

"I don't want to jinx it. I think we'll probably do better than that but you never know," he said. "That's a wonderful thing. People are starting to get it more and they're starting to back these people and back these veterans and that's what needs to go on."

Goliad residents Ava Sandoval and Bill Martinez sat at one of the many red, white, and blue-draped tables waiting for other friends to arrive.

Martinez is a Desert Storm veteran and was a corporal in the Marines.

He has several other family members who also served, including his sister, who is currently serving.

Sandoval works with State Farm and her boss thought it would be a great idea to have a group at the muster, she said.

"They give so much," she said as she looked at Martinez. "Sometimes we see the wounds, but we don't see the other parts. The scars inside."

For Martinez, it was like a flashback to see the amount of support poured out by the community for veterans of all wars, he said.

"It means a lot," a teary-eyed Martinez said. "I remember when I came out of the war in Desert Storm, they did something like this for me and it felt good to know people appreciated what we did over there."



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