Wounded Warrior Golf Classic honors, raises money for wounded warriors, other veterans
They were comrades in arms, and they are still comrades today.
David Johnson, Donnie Hamrick and Phil Sheets, who served in the Vietnam War, were among the members of a foursome that played in the 10th annual Aiken-Augusta Wounded Warrior Charity Golf Classic on Monday at Woodside Plantation Country Club.
During the Vietnam conflict, all three men ended up in the Quang Tri Province in the Demilitarized Zone.
Johnson, who lives in Bath, was in the U.S. Army. He was wounded twice and earned two Purple Hearts.
“To be honest, if the military had been voluntary back then, I wouldn’t have gone (to Vietnam),” Johnson said. “I was scared to death when I first got there. But after you were there for a while, it got easier. It did for me, anyway.”
Hamrick, who lives in Warrenville, also was in the Army. He was wounded once and earned a Purple Heart.
Sheets, a resident of North Augusta, was in the U.S. Marine Corps.
During the latter half of the 1960s, Johnson and Hamrick “got drafted together,” Hamrick said. “He went to Vietnam before I did. After he was wounded, I went to see him in the hospital (after Johnson returned to South Carolina). He told me, ‘Don’t go.’ I said, ‘Man, I got to. I’m drafted.’ So I went, and I got wounded, too.”
A rocket-propelled grenade caused Hamrick’s leg injury.
And the same type of weapon wounded Johnson.
“A round hit the guy next me, Johnson said. “It killed him, and I stopped the fragments. I was in the hospital for 11 months.”
Before that, shrapnel had struck Johnson in the neck.
“They took it out, and they sent me back out there,” Johnson said.
Now, instead of fighting the enemy, Johnson, Hamrick and Sheets golf together on a fairly regular basis.
“We’ve got a group called the Clearwater Golf Association,” Sheets said. “There are about 20 people in it.”
Added Johnson: “Nearly all of us are retired, but there is one guy who still works.”
For the Wounded Warrior Charity Golf Classic, Johnson, Hamrick and Sheets teamed up with Danny Brown.
“This is a great way to honor and help our veterans, especially our wounded warriors,” Hamrick said. “They all made the ultimate sacrifice to our country. Many of them got drafted, and they weren’t sure what was ahead of them, but they went anyway. They were just great Americans. That’s what they were.”
The Wounded Warrior Charity Golf Classic raises money for scholarships for veterans and active-duty members of the military at USC Aiken and Aiken Technical College.
The tournament also provides financial support for the Gravatt Camp and Conference Center’s Christmas Retreat for military families.
In addition, proceeds from the Wounded Warrior Charity Golf Classic are used to assist veterans who need help paying bills.
This year, 256 golfers registered to play in the tournament.
There was a presentation of colors by members of Silver Bluff High School’s Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.
The CSRA New Horizons Band played patriotic music.
During the opening ceremony, wounded warriors and other veterans were recognized. They included World War II veterans Howard Neleigh and N.L Caprell.
Jack Morrison and the late Walter Lamb started the Wounded Warrior Charity Golf Classic. Morrison serves as its chairman.
Over the years, the tournament has raised more than $300,000.