By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Now, a group of Clallam Bay Corrections Center employees is spearheading an effort to show some West End-style appreciation Aug. 10-12 with a backyard barbecue, a salmon dinner, a bluegrass hoedown, an auction and a two-day salmon derby in what organizers have dubbed Wounded Warrior 2012.
Bert Mullen of Sekiu, a corrections officer and himself an Army veteran who served in the late 1970s, is joining other Corrections Center employees, their spouses and Clallam Bay-Sekiu residents in feting 17 members of the Wounded Warrior Project.
The public is invited to the bluegrass dance and the auction, while the other events are reserved for veterans, Mullen said.
The Wounded Warrior Project helps service members who incurred service-connected wounds, injuries or illnesses on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and the families of those service members.
The project’s goal is “to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history,” according to the Florida-based group’s website, www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
“Hopefully, this is just to let them know that there are people out there that have appreciated what they’ve done and what they sacrificed, and that they have not been abandoned,” Mullen said last week.
‘Deserve the best’
“They deserve the best. It’s just that simple,” he said.
“A lot of people think that way. We are trying to relay to those guys that there are people out here that will get behind you if you need help.”
Mullen said event organizers offered five wheelchairs for the veterans, and two will be needed.
There are ground rules by which the hosts must abide.
“We’re not allowed to talk about or bring up their injuries, the war or anything like that unless they do,” Mullen said.
“That’s the rule of engagement to run these guys out here.”
In addition, the veterans can’t bring alcohol, and alcohol can’t be furnished to them.
The veterans will be kept busy after they arrive in Sekiu by bus from Seattle the afternoon of Aug. 10.
Fishing, food, music
The backyard barbecue at Sekiu Community Hall the afternoon of Aug. 10 is sponsored by the Roughneck Motorcycle Club, a West End organization.
On Saturday, the veterans will participate in a Wounded Warrior-only salmon derby, followed by a communitywide auction at 3:30 p.m. at the community hall.
That evening, they will be served a Wounded Warrior-only fish banquet that will include alder-smoked salmon and go to a bluegrass hoedown at the community hall that is open to the public.
They will finish the salmon derby Sunday morning with prizes awarded around noon, then head back to Seattle.
Salmon derby prizes will include a handmade fishing rod from Compass Rose/Main Ax Custom Fishing Rods of Clallam Bay.
The Straitside Resort and Bay Motel in Sekiu are donating rooms, and Ray Sasticum, a member of the Puyallup tribe who grew up in Forks, will serve salmon for the fish banquet, Mullen said.
“The town is really getting behind it,” he said.
“We’re trying to make it an annual deal.”
Mullen said event organizers already are making plans for Wounded Warrior 2013 and want to invite veterans’ families, too.
“We’re bringing the guys out here and making it a community event that could grow into something pretty dang good,” Mullen said.
“We’d like to get businesses and have everyone get their heads around it and really enjoy it every year.”
Items for the auction can be donated through the Clallam Bay-Sekiu Chamber of Commerce, 360-963-2339.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.