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Ducks and conversation

January 25, 2009 12:36 am

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Sgt. Keith Buckmon maneuvers his wheelchair out of a handicap-accessible blind after his first attempt at duck hunting at Quantico. lo0125huntmm2.jpg

Chief Warrant Officer Bradley Garfield, a Marine veteran and Purple Heart recipient, collects decoys following a hunt.

BY BILL FREEHLING

Rep. Rob Wittman was in charge of calling the ducks during a hunt early yesterday at Marine Corps Base Quantico. But none arrived.

"Which obviously shows that nobody listens to a politician," Wittman joked.

The 1st District Republican was on hand to dedicate two new handicap-accessible duck blinds at the Quantico base. The conservation group Ducks Unlimited donated about $11,000 worth of supplies and design help to build the 100-foot wooden ramps and blinds.

The ramps and blinds were built so injured Marines who are part of the Quantico-based Wounded Warrior Regiment would be able to hunt. The base also has handicap-accessible deer blinds.

Sgt. Keith Buckmon was on yesterday's 6 a.m. hunt with Wittman and Lt. Gen. George Flynn, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. The Maryland man has mostly had to use a wheelchair since being hit by shrapnel from an improvised explosive device in Iraq. Buckmon said he enjoyed the hunt and the companionship it provided.

"There's a lot of wounded warriors who want to get out there," Buckmon said.

The idea for the duck blinds arose in June, Flynn said. Both were finished within the past six weeks and a third is in the works. One is on the Potomac River, while the other two are on Chopawamsic Creek.

"Taking care of Marines is what we do," Flynn said.

Alas, Buckmon, Wittman and Flynn didn't get to fire a single shot during the 4-hour hunt. Flynn joked that the name of the benefactor should be changed to "Ducks Limited."

Buckmon wasn't too upset about the lack of ducks, but he did say he now wants to go turkey-hunting at Quantico. Providing that kind of enjoyment for wounded Marines was the reason Ducks Unlimited raised funds for the blinds.

"This is just one opportunity for us to help Marines like Sgt. Buckmon," said Dave Elwing, chairman of the Pentagon chapter of Ducks Unlimited.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com





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