By Steven LaMascus
Army Staff Sgt. Brad Alexander, right, harvested this Texas buck with guide Jake Rakowitz during a hunt made possible by Armed Forces Foundation.
-- Brad Alexander is a small, muscular man from Kentucky, who, except for a black beard, could be called baby faced. His demeanor is one of quiet confidence in his abilities and the polite, soft-spoken, unassuming personality of a Southern country boy. It would be very easy to underestimate Army Staff Sgt. Brad Alexander, but it would be a very dangerous mistake. Brad is a real warrior.
Brad was seriously wounded while fighting overseas for people who are unable to fight for themselves. He was the victim of a female suicide bomber. He lost a leg and had other serious wounds. It took a long time for him to heal, and the therapy was extensive and brutal.
He will never be the same again and will bear the scars forever, but it seems not to have diminished his spirits or sense of humor. It most certainly hasn't diminished Brad as a man. He is someone that would make the perfect hero figure for any boy or girl. Heck, he is my hero, and I'm twice his age!
I met Brad on a deer hunt. Armed Forces Foundation, a national non-profit organization under the Department of Defense's America Supports You Program, had arranged his hunt.
It is a wonderful idea and is probably the best therapy a wounded soldier could have. This hunt was financially sponsored by the ranch we were hunting on, the Duval County Ranch near Freer, Texas.
I was there on an assignment to test a new Trijicon riflescope in the field. I did not know that Sergeant Alexander was going to be there, but I thank God that I was honored to meet and hunt with him. It is something I will always remember and cherish.
In the four days we were there, Brad won the hearts of every person he met, from the guides, to the industry representatives, to the hunters. It was amazing to see, and even more amazing to be a part of.
Brad had trouble finding a shooter buck. He and his guide hunted hard, day after day, and couldn't find one. Still weak from his wounds, Brad would come in each day exhausted but determined. Finally, on the next to last day, he found what he had been looking for. And as befits a Kentucky boy and a soldier, he flattened it with one well-aimed shot. It turned out to be the biggest deer of the hunt.
On the last day of the hunt, I had the privilege of taking Brad coyote calling. He had tried it himself, he said, be never had much luck. I shot my buck early and spent the rest of my hunt calling coyotes. The day before Brad shot his buck, I was calling with my guide. We had tremendous success. We had only one dry stand all day long. I expected to have equal success with Brad along.
Unfortunately, as often happens in hunting, the coyotes didn't cooperate. The weather was perfect but the dogs simply did not respond.
It didn't matter to Brad. He was having a great time just being there and seeing all the animals. But I really wanted to introduce him to predator calling in a big way. Late in the afternoon, a single coyote finally answered the calls. But as luck would have it, it came in from the wrong direction and Brad couldn't get a shot. I took a shot at the coyote at about 250 yards and missed. That was the only coyote we saw all day long.
That evening we gave Brad a copy of Jack O'Connor's book "The Hunting Rifle" that everyone signed; and ranch manager, David Kitner, and the guides gave him some other stuff, never mind what, but it was heartfelt. We wanted to do so much more for him, but just couldn't.
Still, he was happy. His wounds and permanent disability didn't hamper his enthusiasm and joy in the outdoors. He shot the biggest buck, an old Roman-nosed warrior, past his prime, and the rest of us wouldn't have had it any other way.
All I can say is thank God there are still men in America like Brad who are willing to go to war and fight and bleed and die for what they believe in. There are far too many out there these days that think nothing is worth fighting for and that America is the bully on the block. A real soldier can tell you that there are things worth fighting for and that they are willing and able to take up arms in defense of those who are unable to do so.
Without such men serving our country, this nation would not be the greatest in the world. Men like Brad, willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good, have kept this nation free.
I pray that God watches over Brad for the rest of his life. He already gave his leg and his health in defense of the innocent while fighting in a foreign land. Nothing more should ever be asked of such a hero.
If you ever read this, Brad, I can only say: Sir, it was an honor and a privilege to meet you. You are a patriot and a hero. I salute you and wish you the best in whatever you choose to do.
-- Steven LaMascus
Click here to read Steven's blog.