NEW CASTLE, N.Y. – Ossining Army veteran Steve Baumgartner served four years of active duty and came home without a scratch. And when Baumgartner took some swings Monday afternoon at Hudson Hills Golf Course in New Castle, he did it remembering and honoring those who weren’t so lucky.
More than 100 golfers from around Westchester participated in Billy Casper Golf’s World’s Largest Golf Outing supporting the Wounded Warrior Project. Golfers from 27 states at more than 100 simultaneous golf outings teed off Monday to raise awareness for the project, which supports and provides care for wounded service members. This year marked the second annual outing at Hudson Hills, and Baumgartner said he was honored to be a part of it.
“Fortunately, for me, I served in a much tamer time, and all I ever had to give was my time. Unlike the guys we’re doing this for,” Baumgartner said. “I think it’s really important for people to understand the sacrifices that the men and women in our armed forces make. Hopefully this turns into more than just one day a year that we try to help out.”
He doesn’t know anyone who was wounded or killed in action in the Army, but Baumgartner said the outing and support was not about knowing the individuals of the Wounded Warrior Project.
“For me it’s a bit of shared experience,” he said. “Going into the Army was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I’ll always be there for those guys, like they were there for us. That’s what this is about.”
Monday’s outing raised an estimated $500,000 nationwide from more than 6,000 participants, said Joe Rafferty, general manager at Hudson Hills Golf Course. Last year, Hudson Hills hosted 12 participants in the tournament. Rafferty said Monday that the club was fortunate to have that number multiply by nearly 10 this year.
“These guys (in the Wounded Warrior Project) were on the front lines defending our freedoms,” Rafferty said. “We’re pretty fortunate that we were able to get the word out this year. Westchester County was very accommodating and happy to support it, and that helped a lot.”
Rafferty credited New Castle Town Board member John Buckley with helping raise support. Buckley said it was one of the most important things he could do and supporting the Wounded Warrior project “means everything to me.”
“Our veterans deserve the utmost respect and care,” Buckley said. “I think this is one way that we can say, ‘Thank you, and what can we do to support you in your need now that you’ve supported us?’ I hope this continues and the recognition for our wounded warriors gains.”