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 More than 160 active-duty servicemembers attended the event.
 The dove hunt was started as a way to say "thank you" to servicemembers.
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Sixth Annual Clay County Dove Salute
An active-duty servicemember fires at a dove during the 6th Annual Clay County Dove Salute Sept. 11 at the Birdwell-Clark Ranch in Henrietta, Texas. Deborah Clark and Emry Birdwell, hosts of the event, started it as a way to thank military members for their service. (U.S. Air Force photo/Harry Tonemah)
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 Eye on Sheppard: 6th Annual Clay County Dove Salute
Sixth Annual Dove Salute reflects community support

Posted 9/13/2010   Updated 9/13/2010 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Vernon Cunningham
82nd Training Wing

9/13/2010 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Team Sheppard and the Clay County community came together to participate in the 6th Annual Clay County Dove Salute Sept. 11 at the Birdwell-Clark Ranch in Henrietta, Texas.
More than 160 active-duty servicemembers and 40 community volunteers attended the dove hunt.

Deborah Clark and Emry Birdwell, owners of the Birdwell-Clark Ranch, said they host the event for Airmen every year as a way of saying "thank you" for their service.

"When we first moved here six years ago, my husband felt so thankful to be able to live and work on this ranch that he just wanted to do something to show his appreciation," Mrs. Clark said. "One day he walked in and said he wanted to do a dove hunt for the military at Sheppard."

She said any given year they may host from 200 to 245 people, including military and volunteers.

In addition to the hosts at the Birdwell-Clark Ranch, volunteers help support the event in other areas.

"From year one people, in the county started hearing about what we were doing and wanted to help," Mrs. Clark said. "The other people here are an indication of the community support that we have gotten.

"We are not only hunting on our ranch, but two other ranches (are open for the dove hunt. "Some volunteers are cooking and some friends that don't even live in this area send money, ammo and other support."

The military members who signed up to attend the event felt grateful for the invitation from Mrs. Clark, Mr. Birdwell and the community.

"I think it is awesome," Sgt. 1st Class Michael Sety, 882nd Training Group Biomedical Equipment Maintenance Training instructor/writer. "It was a good experience. It shows a real respect for the military and they treat us well."

Heather Newsom, 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs specialist, said everyone was truly impressed with the Texas-sized hospitality.

"From the opening of their homes and sharing of their land for hunting to the volunteers who helped support the event and provided a home-cooked steak dinner, this community really made us feel welcome," Ms. Newsom said.

She said military members who have attended the event in previous years said this is the event they look forward to all year.

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