Golfing With Heroes

H/T to Mike

Hole No. 3 at American Lake Veterans Golf Course Dedicated to Medal of Honor Award Recipients

Hole No. 3 at American Lake Veterans Golf Course, considered the course’s “signature” hole,” was dedicated as the “Medal of Honor” hole during a special event on June 25.  The recognition honors recipients of the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government.

Two local Medal of Honor recipients were among the participants at the June 25 ceremony to commemorate the special designation.

Army veteran Master Sgt. Wilburn K. Ross, a resident of DuPont, and Kent resident Lt. Col. Joe Jackson, a career officer in the United States Air Force, were honored at the dedication ceremonies. Ross was issued the Medal of Honor in 1945 for his extraordinary bravery while serving as a Private 2 (PV2) during repeated German assaults on his position near St. Jacques, France.  Col. Jackson, a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, distinguished himself as a pilot during the Vietnam War.  He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1969 for a dangerous extraction operation of comrades. Joining them was The Rev. Dr. Francis Jeffrey, National Chaplain Emeritus of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, who delivered the invocation and benediction.

[…] All nine holes at American Lake Veterans Golf Course are dedicated to valorous military medals, with tee box markers denoting the specific award for those heroes who have served and sacrificed.

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the United States armed forces who distinguish themselves by their individual gallantry above and beyond the call of duty.  Since the decoration’s inception in 1861, only 91 living Americans have received Medals of Honor from the President of the United States on behalf of Congress.

Friends of American Lake Veterans Golf Course

A Non-profit Veteran Rehabilitation Golf Course

It was a neglected old golf course that had been serving our military since the time it was built around 1955, most likely by Veterans Administration maintenance workers. After 40 years, when the U.S. Government discontinued funding for VA golf courses in 1995, the course became sun-scorched and almost unusable due to the uncooperative sprinkler system and a lack of funding for general maintenance.

Once on the brink of extinction, it’s now like a phoenix rising out the ashes. The Friends of American Lake Veterans Golf Course goal is to promote the rehabilitation of our disabled veterans through the healing power of golf, in an atmosphere of camaraderie that aids in the healing transition of their physical, mental and emotional challenges.

Currently, American Lake Veterans Golf Course is the nation’s only golf course designed specifically for the rehabilitation of wounded and disabled veterans. At this unique facility, disabled veterans can hit balls, take lessons from a PGA pro, they go out and play the course. Blind golfers, amputees, and veterans recovering from emotional trauma and other injuries can join able-bodied soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines for camaraderie, support and rounds of golf – all in an atmosphere of honor and acceptance.

In the fall of 2009, the Friends embarked upon a major campaign to gather funds to expand and enhance the facility. A capital campaign fundraiser was held at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert where Jack Nicklaus was the featured speaker. This event raised $1,300,000. Jack signed on as Honorary Chairman, as did General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Clinton. Phil Knight of Nike endorsed the program. Several major foundations are supporting the efforts, as does the Order of the Purple Heart, the USGA, both the national and the local USO, and many others.

Nicklaus Donates Course Design For Disabled Veterans

Jack Nicklaus takes the wrapping off another in his signature line of hybrid clubs and hands it to Danny Dudek.

The Army lieutenant colonel, paralyzed below both knees, is propped up inside a “SoloRider,” a specially designed cart with a seat that tilts up to support disabled golfers when they swing. He takes the new club, leans over the ball and follows the legend’s instructions.

THWACK!

The white ball soars into the sunny Northwest sky, past lush evergreens and lands about 150 yards down the driving range.

Dudek’s drive – specifically the dedication and promise for renewal it represents – is why Nicklaus is here outside Tacoma, Wash. The golf great is donating his expertise to design what will perhaps be the most appreciated course he’ll ever build.

Nicklaus is helping U.S. combat veterans by redesigning and expanding the American Lake Veterans Golf Course. It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind, 18-hole layout geared specifically for disabled golfers.

“All projects are very important to me. But this one is out of love,” said Nicklaus, who has designed more than 300 courses around the world and has 100 more in the works. “I’m a hired gun to do things a lot of places. But I’m not a hired gun here. I’m doing this because I want to do it.”

About Bob Mack

Retired since 2003. Military Service: U.S. Army, 36th Artillery Group, Babenhausen, Germany 1966-67; 1st Signal Brigade, Republic of Vietnam, 1967-68 Attended University of Miami, 1969-73
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6 Responses to Golfing With Heroes

  1. samhenry says:

    They should develop more of these in other regions around the country on federal lands. Golf has been a great challenge and outlet for my Nam vet brother, Sandy. I will forward this article to him. He’s in Iowa.

  2. What a great story and thanks for sharing it. After wollowing in the political muck day after day, it was a joy read your story. God Bless!

    • Bob Mack says:

      Jim, if we didn’t impart some good news every now & again, we’d be spending our days in a dark & smoky saloon somewhere instead of blogging.

  3. TexasFred says:

    Magnificent story, now, just keep some assholes like Obama OFF of them…

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