Rob and Carolyn Pickel don’t always get a chance to go on vacation with their five sons and Rob’s injuries sustained while serving in the Army.
So when the Fort Bragg, N.C. couple had a chance at an all-expense paid stay with some attraction freebies this weekend in Myrtle Beach thanks to a program coordinated by Special Operations Wounded Warriors, the Pickels decided to come to the coast.
“It’s been a great weekend,” Rob Pickel said Saturday. “I really appreciate what the Special Ops Wounded Warriors Foundation has done here. It was real nice to get the family out of the house for a couple of days. It’s difficult to get away for a vacation, so something like this is awesome.”
Myrtle Beach-based Special Operations Wounded Warriors, or SOWW, coordinated a free four-day, three-night stay at Captain’s Quarters Resort courtesy of VacationMyrtleBeach.com. Companies like Angelo’s Steakhouse, Ripley’s, the Skywheel, Alligator Adventure and more contributed passed for the 30 participants and their family members.
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Carolyn Pickel said the vacation was a relief to the entire family.
“It’s been great,” she said. “Everybody has been very helpful. Normally I wouldn’t have been able to do this alone with five kids.”
Matt Klugman, spokesman for the Captains Quarters Resort, said the business community showed its true colors by stepping up and accommodating those who have been injured serving this country and their family members.
“They all wanted to put together a great weekend for these heroes,” he said, noting many were talking Friday about how the family members sacrifice as much as the wounded military members. “The wives and the mothers have to take care of the homes and the kids while the husbands are out protecting all of us. We’re very fortunate and blessed to have these amazing men and their families here with us.”
On Saturday, amid northeast winds that reached around 16 miles per hour according to the National Weather Service, a professional parachute team comprised of retired Special Forces Operators arrived by parachute on to the beach in front of the Captain’s Quarters Resort. Two parachutists waved a large American flag and a large Prisoner of War flag as they floated from the sky to cheers and clapping from onlookers on the beach.
Joel Pellicci Jr., vice president of SOWW, said the idea to involve the entire family came from his wife. Several months of planning later, the weekend drew family members of all ages.
“It’s been outstanding,” Pellicci said of the weekend. “When these guys go away, even when they’re not hurt, the families suffer. Showing appreciation to the families is just as important as showing it to the operators themselves.”
SOWW was formed for the sole purpose of recognizing both active duty and veteran members of our United States Special Operations Forces with charitable outdoor events, according to a press release issued by the organization. The majority of its board is comprised of past Special Operations members, including a veteran of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, a firefight that was dramatized in the 2001 film Black Hawk Down, the release states.
Klugman said he had an opportunity to meet a lot of great people over the weekend.
“These guys do so much and in a lot of these cases, no one will ever know about it,” he said. “These are the best of the best.”