GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Wounded warriors toured the Lake Guntersville area Thursday by land, sea, and air.
About 30 service men and women came to Marshall County for a cruise as part of a Heroes Week sponsored by the Semper Fi Community Task Force of North Alabama.
The local non-profit is staffed entirely by volunteers, and relies on community donations.
“Our soul mission is to honor our warriors,” vice chairman Joseph Bongiovanni said.
“We want them to understand how much our country appreciates them. These young men and women, all they want is validation of their service to our country. I think nobody does it better than north Alabama to show them how much we appreciate and love them.”
Along with their spouses or caretakers, the wounded warriors flew from Huntsville to Guntersville on small planes and helicopters, and members of the Guntersville Post of the American Legion Riders provided a motorcade escort to the Lake Guntersville Yacht Club.
Tommy Queen and several of the other bikers are themselves veterans.
“I’ve been there and I know what it means, and i want to show my support,” Queen said.
It was well received.
“It’s cool getting this recognition,” SFC Leslie Richardson said.
She went to college in Talladega and said it was good to be back for the week.
Richardson said she was also looking forward to riding around on one the big boats, as members of the Lake Guntersville Yacht Club host the visiting groups every year.
Alabama Marine Police and the fire boat from Guntersville Fire & Rescue provided an aquatic escort, with nozzles spraying water in arcs over the yachts.
“It’s something [the guests] really enjoy, I think,” commodore Harry Fachet said.
“It’s one event that they do together as a couple, the husband and wife both get to do it, and it’s relaxing in the past it’s been very well received.”
It was a welcome getaway for SFC Richardson, who has 25 years as a soldier in addition to growing up in a military family.
“I started off in Desert Storm, and you know, when you think about the Vietnam vets, they didn’t get these opportunities,” she said.
“I hate to even call myself a veteran now, because I’ve never been out of the military.”
The group will also take part in Monday’s Veterans Day Parade, a Marine Corps Ball, and be back to the water for a fishing competition.
If you would like to volunteer for the Semper Fi Community Task Force of North Alabama or make a donation to support programs like Heroes Week, visit the Semper Fi CTF website.