Wounded warriors take trip down the Canal

By: Chris Thomas Email
By: Chris Thomas Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, June 13, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Randall Taylor is a wounded warrior who served 10 years in the Marine Corps. "My life was changed when I got that tumor back in 1994. I was very active (before that)," said Randall.

He's suiting up again but for a different mission...kayaking down the Augusta Canal. He did it with more 30 Fort Gordon soldiers standing watch.

"I couldn't possibly do this by myself, but with volunteers like these we're able to come down here and have a good time," said Randall.

"It means a lot because these other soldiers that are out here are one of the main reasons that we all enlisted and took part in serving our country," said SSG Joseph Oliphant.

About a dozen wounded warriors took to the water for a two hour trip down the canal. "For the veterans here, this is a sense of freedom that they fought for, that they deserve, and we can give it to them," said Ralph Marche.

Marche is with the Department of Veteran Affairs. He made a special trip to Augusta a day early for a short training session to prepare our veterans for the worst case scenario. It's part of a larger goal.

"We want to get more veterans' butts in boats. We want to get them onto the water because water heals," said Marche.

That's something Joe Mornini knows firsthand. This is all his brain child. He started a similar program back in 2000 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and is now taking it on the road.

"A lot of these guys are young, and the same age of my children. It's something that I just enjoy. It's a passion of mine," said Joe.

It is amazing what a little passion can do, especially when it gets people like Randall back rolling again.

Joe insists the formula is simple. "Fun. We're just having a good time, and fun can keep 'em healthy."

All in all there were at least 100 soldiers and volunteers on the Canal today.

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