TOUCHED BY THE HAND OF GOD
by Ted Nugent
It was January 6, 2006, when 26 year old United States Marine Corp Warrior, Corporal Josh Hoffman, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, instinctively improvised, adapted and overcame. With his fellow Marines, he surrounded and captured the terrorists in Fallujah, held them at gunpoint and prepared for the next step in securing the Iraqi village from the hands of evil.
Out of the eerie silence in that God forsaken desert hellhole, a single 7.62x39mm round erupted from a nearby shack, the 139 grain full metal jacketed round slamming straight into the young warrior’s neck, dropping this brave man in his tracks.
Thanks to the Herculean efforts of his fellow Marines, Josh would survive his injury, receive a purple heart, and then head into the toughest journey and challenge of his life. Completely paralyzed, this dedicated sniper and avid outdoorsmen was told he would never run, jump, dance, laugh, smile, talk, shake hands, wave hello, hunt, fish, hike, or fire his beloved rifle ever again. It was all he could do to relearn how to inhale and exhale with the help of a ventilator to struggle through every day from here on out. It was a heartbreaking and graphic example of the tragic price heroes pay for freedom in this insidious war on terror.
How the hell I fit into all this superior human condition I will never know, but clearly God has blessed me with this holy connection that brings me into the lives of these very special human beings. Truly, I am not worthy.
As it turned out, Josh was a big fan of Uncle Ted rock-n-roll and our unapologetic celebration of American freedom and the hunting lifestyle on our Spirit of the Wild TV show. Dear Lord, how lucky can a man get? We were contacted by the Hoffman family when they heard about the incredible Liberator unit created by my hunting BloodBrother Pete Odlund of West Bridge Tooling up in Lowell, Michigan.
This amazing invention consists of a wheelchair friendly platform framed by a rail system that holds a rifle, pistol, shotgun or crossbow, and can be activated and controlled by a joystick or even a small “sip and puff” tube.
Pete and his wonderful family have dedicated themselves to helping charitable causes and handicapped individuals get back into the wild again for many years. His annual Hunt For A Cure Cystic Fibrosis fund raiser is always a record setter, and they are a perfect example of an American hunting family that just gives and gives and gives some more.
When Josh arrived at our little log cabin in the Michigan wilderness, everybody put magnum heart and soul into making him and his family feel welcomed and loved. Because of his terrible injuries, Josh hadn’t been able to speak or express himself in years, but we all saw a smile in his eyes when we explained how he could fire a sniper rifle once again with the help of The Liberator.
We set up some plastic gallon water jugs against the tall bank of our lane, and settled Josh into the unit, instructing him how to sip and puff the .270 into firing position.
As we all know, aim small miss small is tough enough when you can gently manipulate arms, body, head and fingers, but for a guy who literally cannot move, Josh taught everyone in attendance a whole new level of patience and perseverance. It was truly a beautiful thing.
We all wanted to grab the gun frame to zero it in on the distant jug, but knew that Josh wanted to do it himself. He hadn’t done anything on his own in three years, much less pulled the trigger on a sniper rifle.
But we’re talking US Marine Corp here, and Josh kept sipping and puffing till eventually those crosshairs on the small screen were solid, dead center on a jug, and with a final double puff, KABOOOM!
1 plastic Taliban head blown to smithereens, SIR!
I’m here to tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the forest that memorable moment as Josh lit up like a kid on Christmas morning, the biggest toothy grin spread across his handsome face and some pretty impressive noises to go along with it. His girlfriend Heather was so moved, she broke down, and I personally had to look away for a moment to compose myself.
Improvise, adapt and overcome. Semper Fidelis. Where there is a will there is a way.
We went on to blast more jugs that day with beautiful Angela Kline showing her amazing marksmanship skills, even though she has severe Cerebral Palsy. We also took a family of great young men on a hunt at the Knowlton’s Laguna Vista Ranch near Pearsal, Texas, with The Liberator where these four brothers, all with various stages of Muscular Dystrophy were able to Liberate a few backstrappers for the campfire.
If you know a special needs person who would feel the soul cleansing powers of the shooting sports, I can assure you The Liberator can make it all come true.
Please visit the two websites, Libertyworx.com and wbtooling.com to make it happen. It’s fun to be around when special people are touched by the hand of God. And by the hand of Pete Odlund, too.