PHOTO COURTESY OF JUDY LEWIS Participants and volunteers of the Warrior Bonfire hog hunt event.
By Leann Monk
WARREN – With so much of what’s happening in the world today being negative, it’s nice to see something good happening right here in our own backyard. Tyler County and its people have long been known for their hospitality and big hearts. No matter what the need, Tyler County folks always rise to the occasion.
For the fourth year, Cody and Judy Lewis, owners and operators of Triple D Ranch and Event Venue in Warren, hosted the annual hog hunt for the Warrior Bonfire Program. With the help of countless community members, volunteers and donors, this weekend was one for the record books.
According to hunting guide and Warren Hunting Lease president, Cody Stewart there was a record 14 hogs harvested during this year’s hunt. Stewart stated how proud he was of the efforts of the 45 to 50 volunteers that helped out on the hunt, “without these guys helping and volunteering out here, this hunt would not be possible. It’s hard work.”
Assistant Guide, Colter Stewart, 11-year-old son of Cody, rode with his dad throughout the two-day hunt ready to do whatever the senior Stewart needed.
Colter was tasked with “remembering the spot” when his dad pointed out a good area for the men to hunt; and according to Cody, he did his job well. While Colter was assisting his dad in the lease, his brother Briar, 14, was busy back at the camp skinning the hogs. To the Stewarts, this is a family event, and they could not be prouder to be a part.
The saying is “it takes a village” – and that is certainly the case for this event. It would appear that all of Warren seemed to participate in some way.
The Warren Little Dribblers provided desserts while others donated money, corn, gas, food, coolers and time. The 10 Warriors left Triple D knowing that the people of Warren, and the surrounding areas, support them and the sacrifice they made for their country.
One Warrior who participated in the hunt was Doug Shreve, from Hockley, Texas. He is an Army veteran after 20 years of service.
“This hunt means that I get to come together with other vets and not worry about what’s going on in the world. The hunt, well that’s a plus,” Shreve said.
Shreve joined the Warrior Bonfire program in 2018. During this hunt, Shreve harvested two hogs.
Also at the hunt was Graham Golden, from Hot Springs, AR. Golden served as a sniper in the Marines and was shot and injured during his third deployment to Iraq. Golden has been a part of the Bonfire Project for five years and although he lives in Arkansas, hosts an event on Lake Sam Rayburn once a year. “This program means so…” Graham said, stopping mid-sentence. “The bonfire program means camaraderie. It means that I get to be around people who understand me and that I can let my guard down a little bit. You see when I’m at home, I don’t do people. I don’t do public. But when I’m here… I get to let go,” Graham said.
The mission of the Warrior Bonfire Program is to “provide opportunities that improve the lives of enemy combat-wounded veterans—Purple Heart recipients—on their lifelong journey of recovery and healing. They create activity-based, small group retreats that foster healing, build support communities, and transform lives.”
“I just can’t thank the Warriors enough for coming back, for trusting us to take care of them.”
Judy Lewis commented when asked about her thoughts on the men she hosted. She went on to say, “I’m also thankful that Justin Lewis and Ryan “the Dolphin” Gooseman, the liaisons between the Bonfire Program and us, keeps thinking of us and our community. They could take these guys anywhere but say Tyler County is the only place with this kind of hospitality.”