Honoring Wounded Warriors

WOOLRICH — So many men and women from northeastern and central Pennsylvania have gone off to war and have been injured.

When they come home, there is usually a long way to go to feel whole again.

A Blackhawk helicopter circled around the crowd in Woolrich before touching down outside the longtime clothing outfitter.

On board were two top generals in the Pennsylvania National Guard who were there to take part in a ceremony honoring 12 guardsmen wounded while serving our country.

“It just makes us feel so good, the values these people have, the sacrifices they’ve made, and the sacrifices they continue to make everyday,” said Woolrich CEO John Ranelli.

Ranelli said the company wanted to recognize wounded veterans in some way and invited the group for a ceremony in their honor.

“Didn’t see it coming, that was basically it, quick,” said Chris Reed of Williamsport.

“IED went off, knocked me out, ripped up my mouth,” added Jeremy Rist of Montoursville.

“I was hit by sniper fire. It went through my Kevlar into my head,” said Mike Bennett of Pennsdale.

Some of their scars are visible. Others are not. Still, Reed, Rist, and Bennett survived their injuries. Recognitions like the one in Woolrich help in the healing process, they said.

“I don’t expect to get this support,” said Reed. “It was a job, just to see, it’s overwhelming. I’m thankful for that.”

Freedom Throws are wool blankets made in Woolrich, by Woolrich, and proceeds from sales of the throws go toward the Wounded Warrior Project.

Twelve of those wounded warriors at the ceremony went home with one of the throws, made in the image of the American flag.

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