More than 200 classic cars and trucks were on display at Tanger Outlets in Riverhead yesterday in an event put on by the Long Island Moose Classic Car Club to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
U.S. Armt 1st Sgt. (Ret.) Hugh Conlon spoke on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project. A veteran who started his career as a medic with the 82nd Airborne in 1987, Conlon spoke from personal experience of the difficulty military veterans have reintegrating into civilian life.
"I'm not a sexy wounded warrior," he told the crowd at Tanger. "I have both my arms and both my legs." But after serving in conflicts from Honduras and Panama to Desert Storm, the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and their aftermath "kicked me in the gut." He spent the next four years training medics to be deployed to the Middle East. In 2006 he went to Iraq himself to train Iraqi medics.
"Half of them wanted to kill us, half of them were glad we were there," he said.
He spent his year in Iraq in constant danger. Numerous Iraqi men he trained were killed by roadside bombs because they didn't have armored vehicles.
After leaving Iraq in 2007, he was discharged and "home on my couch" within six months, with very little help in making an extremely difficult transition.
"The Wounded Warrior Project focuses on four main areas: the mind, the body, economic empowerment and outreach," Conlon said.
The organization is supported solely by private donations, Conlon said.
"The money that you've raised here today gives the Wounded Warrior Project the opportunity to reach out to men and women who have served and don't realize they're not alone."
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Emil Breitenbach Jr.
Click thumbnails to enlarge images