LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The USS ORLECK staff and volunteers hosted a breakfast ceremony for the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) and their All Star Team competitors aboard the ORLECK.
"They really rolled out the red carpet and it's really special," said Wounded Warrior member Lonnie Gaudet of Morgan City.
The program was held on the DASH (Drone Antisubmarine Helicopter) deck where the Battle on the Bayou II Tournament competitors toured the museum ship and even batted some balls off the bow.
Special guests included the US Naval Sea Cadet Corp- Chennault Battalion and members of the Washington-Marion JROTC. The Sea Cadet program is designed to introduce youth to naval life. Programs Gaudet says he's glad the youth is still involved in.
"It says a lot about a person who wants to do," said Gaudet. "We have a lot of guys out here this morning that are obviously in ROTC and it makes us smile that people are still you know with that mind set that they want to go forward with a military career."
Other team members say the weekend long events aren't about the softball games but it's about the message they want to convey.
"We play the game of softball, and we're out here setting an example," said Gaudet. "We're bringing a message but really, it's not about us. It's about bringing awareness to disabilities.">
That message is being heard loud and clear from local kids who find the Wounded Warriors' stories as heroic and inspiring.
"They have the courage to come out here after they were wounded in combat and stuff," said volunteer Ethan Miller.
Gaudet, who served in Afghanistan, says that's what the program is about and that all the money they raise goes towards hosting future events like the softball tournament to help bring more awareness.
"That's why we're here," said Gaudet.
The program also highlighted a senate resolution that named the ORLECK the official Vietnam Memorial Museum ship for the state of Louisiana.