On June 24, 2013, a very special group of thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail were honored in Harpers Ferry. Each of these hikers is a military service combat veteran currently on one of the most important missions of their life.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) in Harpers Ferry partnered with Warrior Hike to establish the “Walk Off The War” program. Marine Corps Captains Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin founded Warrior Hike in 2011 and hiked all 2186 miles of the Appalachian Trail while raising $50,000 to purchase adapted vehicles for seriously wounded veterans.
The “Walk Off The War” Program veterans honored in Harpers Ferry were Sean Gobin (Program Director Capt., U.S. Marine Corps), Adam Bautz (U.S. Marine Corps, Infantry Machine Gunner), Robert Carmel (U.S. Army Field Artillery), Carl Steven Clendenning (U.S. Marine Corps, Light Armored Vehicle Crewman), Stephanie Cutts (U.S. Navy, Hull Maintenance Technician), Thomas Gathman (U.S. Marines, Infantry Rifleman), William Guill (U.S. Navy/U.S. Army, Public Affairs Specialist, Unit Armorer), Kevin Reed (U.S. Marine Corps, Infantry Mortarman), and Sharon Smith (U.S. Air Force, Medic).
These veteran thru-hikers have made it their goal to traverse the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin in Maine. They are decorated combat veterans of the Afghanistan and/or Iraq wars, seeking to transition from military life to civilian life. With each step taken along the trail they are striving to shed the vicissitudes of their first-hand experiences of war and assimilate back into a productive and rewarding civilian life.
To honor the Warrior Hikers, the ATC (Rich Daileader and Laurie Potteiger) partnered with the Teahorse Hostel (Laurel Drake), the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Virginia Lodge #1, Harpers Ferry, the Harpers Ferry/ Bolivar District Veterans Association, pastor John Unger and members of St. John’s Lutheran Church, and Chris Craig and Steve Paradis of the Harpers Ferry/Bolivar Trail & Town Alliance. Approximately 60 people attended the reception and cookout for the hikers which was held on the grounds of the Odd Fellows lodge.
Check out the original article here.