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Special Forces tour brings warriors to Edison

Albany Herald - 2/20/2020

Feb. 20--EDISON -- As the sun rises on Southern Wilderness Plantation Friday morning, final preparations for the weekend's Purple Hearts Outdoors Tour event are rolling along with military precision. That's no coincidence because the shooting competition, quail hunt and retreat that is taking place there for the 12th year is put together by an organization founded by and operated for special forces service members.

In 2005, retired United States Army Lt. Col. Dan Hammock III, an Iraqi War veteran, and Paul Johnsen, a retired New York City firefighter and 9/11 survivor, founded the Purple Hearts Outdoors Tour.

PHOT provides recreational opportunities exclusively for selected active-duty military members of the United States Special Operations Forces community. The organization sponsors a wide array of hunting and non-hunting events held annually across the country.

Since 2008, PHOT has staged diverse outdoors events across the country that have been hosted and supported by patriotic and appreciative civilian volunteers. Some of the non-hunting events have involved kayaking on Lake Superior as well as paddling across the Okefenokee Swamp.

The hunts include opportunities to pursue black tail deer in California, pheasant and wild turkey in Iowa, elk in Montana, mountain lions in Wyoming and black bear in Oregon. The hunting parties range from five to 40 in number, depending on the species being hunted.

"(The Edison Purple Heart Outdoors Tour event) is really an event with strong regional support," Hammack said. "Volunteers from Early, Clay, Calhoun, Terrell and Dougherty counties as well as others from across the country will be coming together to make our guests welcome and the event a success."

The 24 participants at this year's event will participate in a wide array of shooting events including an M-1 garand range for long-range shooting, a .45ACP pistol range, a .22LR range, sporting clays and a duck blind, as well as a range for primitive weapons on Friday.

Saturday kicks off with a breakfast at the Edison First United Methodist Church, followed by a day featuring quail hunts on Bell Plantation and other properties in the area. Following the day's hunts, a whole hog barbecue and pig pulling will be the setting for the evenings honor dinner.

Anyone interested in supporting the Purple Heart Outdoors Tour can find more information on their website phoutdoorstour@gmail.com.

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