Military Veteran Given Texas Outdoor Adventure
National Guardsman Master Sergeant Anthony Cogdill (Tony) has completed 36 years of honorable Service to his country, but not without personal hardship. In the summer of 2011, Tony suffered a serious neck injury during a training exercise during his last deployment to Afghanistan. When he returned to the U. S., he was diagnosed with ALS, a debilitating disease that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. In spite of his physical limitations, Tony continues to serve in the Tennessee National Guard, and in August of 2012, he was given the experience of a lifetime.
Amway Independent Business Owner Bill Carlson, who served in the U.S. Air Force for nearly eight years, met Tony and his family at a Land and Wildlife Expo. Bill was there to help build increased awareness and funding for Support U.S. Armed Forces (SUSAF), an organization with a focus on encouragement, morale raising, and support for military service members and their families. Tony had been an avid outdoorsman and loved to hunt and fish. With his physical limitations, those things were hard to pursue. After meeting Tony that day, Bill, along with Chad and Zac Cooper, offered Tony the experience of a lifetime – a guided hunting experience at Mellon Creek Outfitters, a 110,000 acre ranch, in Texas.
Bill secured funding for travel arrangements for Tony and his family; Chad arranged the hunt. At the ranch, Tony and his family were met by guides who went above and beyond to accommodate Tony’s needs and help him enjoy the experience. With the use of only his right arm, Tony brought in an 8-point buck, a doe, and a 238-pound wild boar, the largest hog ever to be harvested at MCO.
“It’s one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done in my life,” says Bill. “I keep in touch with the Cogdill family, and they tell me that Tony talks about that hunt every day.”
Bill plans to return to the ranch in October with three more veterans who have received a Purple Heart or above, as MCO has offered to provide the guided hunts free of charge. “It was most humbling gift for them to give. Those hunts they provide cost a regular client $5,000 plus travel expenses,” notes Bill.
“My dad used to tell me that one person can make a difference,” says Bill. “I’ve found this to be very true.”