Veterans share memories at Operation Roaring River

Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Charlie 22 Outdoors aims to offer veterans a place and time to relax, explore and connect with nature. Don Scott, of Joplin, is a volunteer for Charlie 22 Outdoors and has worked with the organization since the beginning. He is a taxidermist and offered to taxidermy a few of the largest fish caught by the veterans last week at Roaring River State Park, for free. Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com

Charlie 22 Outdoors aims to offer veterans a place and time to relax, explore and connect with nature.

Joel Topham, left, Roaring River State Park manager, addressed the delegation from Charlie 22 Outdoors’ Operation Roaring River during their opening ceremony on May 20. Charlie 22 Outdoors provided the events free of charge to 40 of those who served and their families, covering all expenses including travel, lodging, food, tags, guides, taxidermy and meat processing for a four-day stay at the park. Contributed photo
The banks of Roaring River State Park were filled with veterans last week and Operation Roaring River took place. Charlie 22 Outdoors hosted the event and paid for lodging, food and tags for 40 veterans and their families. Russell Smith, of Oklahoma, is a Vietnam veteran who served in the Army between 1968-1969. This is his first event with Charlie 22 Outdoors but he looks forward to many more. Although, he has spent time fishing in Roaring River before, and seemed to know his favorite fishing holes. “This has been quite the experience,” he said. Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com
Donald “Doc” Ballard, right, Vietnam War veteran and oldest living Medal of Honor recipient in Missouri, offered an embrace to Scott Hettinger, founder of Charlie 22 Outdoors, during an event on May 21 for Operation Roaring River, which allowed veterans and their families to spend four days at the state park. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com
Clifford C. Nelson, in the red shirt, of Lamar, is a Vietnam veteran from 1968-1970. He spent a combined total of 13 years between the Army, Navy and National Guard. Operation Roaring River is the second event he has attended with Charlie 22 Outdoors. He spoke with Charlie 22 Outdoors guide Kevin Selby, of Neosho, on the bank of Roaring River on Wednesday, as his two grandsons, Kurtis White, left, 14, of Stockton and Skylar Hunt, right, 14, of Jericho Springs, fished and spent time with their grandfather. Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com
Starting May 20 and through May 23, veterans were brought together by Charlie 22 Outdoors to spend time in Roaring River State Park. On the left, Jerry Brownfield, a Vietnam veteran from 1969-1970, met Larry Cloud, Vietnam veteran from 1968-1969. The two men served in the same areas around the same time and first met at the Operation Roaring River event last week. Able to tell each other stories and memories that only they would understand, the two spent a significant amount of time becoming friends. Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com
Donald “Doc” Ballard was the guest speaker on May 21 at Charlie 22 Outdoors’ Operation Roaring River. Ballard is a retired colonel with the Kansas National Guard who served as a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient in Missouri. According to his Medal of Honor citation, Ballard was returning to his platoon from the evacuation landing zone when the company was ambushed by a North Vietnamese Army unit employing automatic weapons and mortars, and sustained numerous casualties. Observing a wounded marine, Ballard unhesitatingly moved across the fire-swept terrain to the injured man and swiftly rendered medical assistance to his comrade. Ballard then directed four marines to carry the casualty to a position of relative safety. As the men prepared to move the wounded marine, an enemy soldier suddenly left his concealed position and, after hurling a hand grenade which landed near the casualty, commenced firing upon the small group of men. Instantly shouting a warning to the marines, Ballard fearlessly threw himself upon the lethal explosive device to protect his comrades from the deadly blast. When the grenade failed to detonate, he calmly arose from his dangerous position and resolutely continued his determined efforts in treating other marine casualties. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com
Starting May 20 and through May 23, veterans were brought together by Charlie 22 Outdoors to spend time in Roaring River State Park. On the left, Jerry Brownfield, a Vietnam veteran from 1969-1970, met Larry Cloud, Vietnam veteran from 1968-1969. The two men served in the same areas around the same time and first met at the Operation Roaring River event last week. Able to tell each other stories and memories that only they would understand, the two spent a significant amount of time becoming friends. Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com
There is a bond in being a war veteran, as well as fishing on a nice spring day. Charlie 22 Outdoors and Roaring River State Park hosted Operation Roaring River last week for 40 veterans and their families. Randall McDaniel, left, of Carthage, joined the Army in 1972. He served in Thailand, Korea and Germany. “This is my first event with Charlie 22 Outdoors, and it is a blessing,” he said. “For me, it was divine intervention.” Dave Ross, middle, of Webb City, Served in Texas and Missouri with the Air Force for five years. “It is nice to relax and have the camaraderie with other veterans,” he said. Ryan Rogers, of Seneca, is a Marine veteran who served at 29 Palms from 1995-1996. He spent a total of four years in the military from 1994-1998 and said Operation Roaring River has been a great time to meet other veterans. “I was supposed to come with my brother but he had a family emergency,” he said. “Actually, he is my newfound brother, but we were friends for more than 20 years. I was adopted, and I looked up my birth parents and realized we were actually brothers the whole time.” Jordan Privett/jprivett@cassville-democrat.com
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