Warrior Beach Retreat Kicks Off With Parade and Opening Ceremony - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Warrior Beach Retreat Kicks Off With Parade and Opening Ceremony

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What does it take to be a military hero? It takes bravery, strength and sometimes sacrifices.

Nobody knows that better than our own warrior heroes.

This week, men and women who've been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan are honored for their service through the Warrior Beach Retreat.

Thursday at Lynn Haven United Methodist Church, these brave men and women were welcomed and honored.

"As they came in our lobby and the ROTC Guard was there with the colonnade and just seeing them come through the colonnade, it brought tears to your eyes," said LHUMC Outreach Director, Wanda McDonald.

This organization was started in 2009 by Linda Cope, after her son Joshua was injured while serving in Iraq.  Since then this bi-annual event has grown, not only in size, but in its ability to heal inside and out.

"We love you guys and I believe that you can feel the love that this community has for you. One of the wives told me as we were sitting at dinner, she said, "since my husband was injured, he's never cried. But he cried coming here tonight," said Cope to the captivated audience.

Special guest speaker, retired Air Force Lieutenant General William Wesler lifted up the men and women who have been brought to Bay County, along with their caregivers, for this week of relaxation.

"Why are we here tonight? We're here to honor the men and women in these first two rows...and they deserve our recognition. They are our heroes," he cheered.

Thursday, the Hathaway Bridge was lined by members of the community who came out in droves to show their support as these warriors caravanned from Panama City Beach to Lynn Haven.

The crowds didn't stop there, dotting the warrior's trek to Thursday's ceremony and dinner. Waving American flags or simply saluting, this is military community that knows the value of their service.

These servicemen and women, more than 50 in number, truly become part of a family when they arrive and it's a full circle moment when their sacrifice doesn't go unnoticed.