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Public Statements

In Recognition of the Combat Marine Outdoors

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


* Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to recognize a great American hero and the exceptional organization he founded--the Combat Marine Outdoors--which exists to serve our severely wounded Marines, soldiers, airmen, and sailors with unique and extraordinary opportunities to participate in outdoor hunting and fishing excursions. As we all know, behind every great endeavor there is a great personality. In this case, that great personality, that person of extraordinary character, is United States Marine Corps Colonel Alan Orr.

* Colonel Orr, while a solid Marine Corps Artillery officer (and in full disclosure my former battalion commander), is a special man whose love for our Marines, sailors and soldiers extends from the front lines of battle to the hospitals where our wounded warriors recover, and most exceptionally, to life past the battlefield. Extending beyond the stifling halls of military hospitals and recovery barracks, Colonel Orr, along with a group of dedicated hunters, ranch owners and patriots, have reinstilled our wounded heroes to the realization that excitement, adventure and Teddy Roosevelt's ``Strenuous Life'' doesn't end with their service wounds.

* In 2005, Combat Marine Outdoors founding members Colonel Orr, Rusty Hicks, Master Gunnery Sergeant Arturo Garcia and my father, former Congressman Duncan L. Hunter, visited wounded Marines from the 1st Marine Division at Brooke Army Medical Center. None were strangers to what they saw--they witnessed the full impact of war injuries. But it was their actions that made all the difference. They responded by creating an organization that would not only accelerate the recovery process, but restore hope in our servicemen and women.

* In collaboration with thousands of contributors and over 50 ranches, the Combat Marine Outdoors has provided well over 200 wounded veterans from Balboa Hospital to Walter Reed with the opportunity to hunt and fish, often at a once-in-a-lifetime adventure location, such as the Two Dot Ranch and the Y.O. Ranch in Texas. These outdoor experiences on ranches, bays and lakes foster the opportunity to engage in a challenging experience that promotes teamwork and camaraderie. In many cases, these excursions facilitated a turning point in emotional recovery through a challenging experience that helps our wounded military men and women regain confidence through a sense of accomplishment.

* A story then: a United States Marine wounded in combat, blinded, with both legs amputated. He sits in Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, waiting to recover and wondering what his future holds. For a weekend, he is taken by Colonel Orr and his band of patriots to an American treasure, the Texas Ranch. In the great outdoors, this blind, double amputee is, amazingly, guided by Colonel Orr and successfully shoots a big game animal. The excitement and feeling of accomplishment and the outdoors is no less real for this Marine for the fact that he cannot see his trophy. He has lived the hunt and is more alive for it.

* While many people, myself included, make the effort to show our veterans our appreciation, whether hunting elk in Colorado or deep sea fishing in San Diego, the exceptional few transition good intentions and singular acts of compassion into a systematic execution of true benevolent action. Colonel Orr is the consummate professional, more versed in the art of artillery than any officer I have ever known. But his impact is immeasurable when he takes one of our country's greatest treasures and returns the excitement of ``living life'' to him. That is the beauty of what Colonel Orr has accomplished through Combat Marine Outdoors.

* Mr. Speaker, most Americans will never know the pain and discomfort of combat, or what those who bear the scars of war feel when the smoke clears and they return home. But when they do return, what we can do beyond providing the care that restores the highest quality of life and self-reliance is to open doors that give new meaning, encouragement and excitement to those who were willing to sacrifice everything so that we can stay safe. This is what Combat Marine Outdoors is all about.

* As a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am pleased to support the mission and service of the Combat Marine Outdoors for our wounded service personnel, and I am honored to have served with Colonel Alan Orr, a man who not only epitomizes military discipline, but exudes a steady compassion and love for our young warriors through a life of service above self. I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing this exceptional organization and the exceptional man who started it.


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