Inaugural gala raises thousands for Mounted Warrior Museum
By DAVID MORRIS
Sergeant First Class (Retired) Dana Bowman is no stranger to jumping out of a perfectly good airplane with just the parachute on his back. The Special Forces soldier with the U.S. Army elite parachute team, was injured during a 1994 losing both of his legs at 300 miles per hour. Nine months later he turned the tragedy into a triumph as the first double amputee to re-enlist Airborne style skydiving during the ceremony.
Bringing with him the American pride, Bowman leapt into Saturday’s inaugural Homecoming For Heroes gala at Ted Smith’s SC River ranch in Oakalla kicking off the festivities for the evening that helped garner more than $30,000 in funds for the 66,000 sq. ft. museum that will share the history of Fort Hood and it’s surrounding communities.
“I just praise God for the turnout we had tonight,” Bulldawgs head coach Jack Welch said. “This is an obvious sign of great teamwork. General Funk’s leadership provided the right direction with Bob Crouch directing the traffic for a great event. Playing with Pat Waters is always a lot of fun especially in front of a sold out crowd like we had.”
The Copperas Cove initiative spearheaded by Retired LT. General Paul Funk garnered the support of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, Congressman Roger Williams, Rice University Head Coach David Bailiff, Atlanta Falcons coach Chris Morgan during the live auction and dinner that drew more than 300 including Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris.
Staff Sergeant Harris shared the story of his 2007 patrol in Iraq when his HUMVEE hit an Improvised Explosive Device and the agonizing road to recovery that required 75 surgeries. His memoir Steel Will: My Journey through Hell to Become the Man I Was Meant to Be shares the story of the incident that left three members of his crew dead and burns over 35 percent of his body causing him to lose skin off his face, his ears and the use of his mangled fingers. Now the father of five travels the country raising awareness for PTSD.
“Our first big fundraiser for the museum didn’t go off flawlessly but it was excellent,” Mounted Warfare Foundation vice president Bob Crouch said. “Our auction went very well, I couldn’t be happier with the support we gained from Copperas Cove. I am already looking forward to next year and having a full year to plan for annual event. This night was planned in about four months and Jack Welch and Jack Smith and their committee did an amazing job.”
Spreading the message across the nation the Copperas Cove committee shared the vision of the state of the art museum that will make the area a destination location for visitor from around the world.
Former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes shared his ventures in Normandy and the impact it had on him as a person and coach, while Gatesville resident Cotton Davidson recalled his service in the military that lead to his professional football career with the Baltimore Colts and Oakland Raiders. Stories such as these along with Cove natives Mayor John Hull, Robert Griffin II and wife Jacqueline Griffin will be shared within the walls of the three-story facility. Collections from each of Fort Hood’s current museums located on the largest military post in the free world will move outside the gates with the completion of the project.
The goal for Phase 1 of the capital campaign is $37,808,400 with the MWF nearly halfway there at 40 percent of the total. Individuals can pledge their support and become friends of the museum for as little as $10 a month at nmwfoundation.org