Sep. 20—Dozens of golfers scattered for fundraising action Monday at Woodside Plantation, with the Aiken-Augusta Wounded Warrior Charity Golf Classic underway.
Boosters such as Janney Montgomery Scott financial advisors, Murphy Auto Group, Affordable Quality Marble and Granite helped pave the way, helping bolster outreach through such means as scholarship aid with Aiken Technical College and USC Aiken. Camp Gravatt's annual three-day Christmas retreat is also supported via the tournament.
Dwight Bradham, director of the Aiken County Veterans' Affairs Office, was among those on hand Monday to express thanks for the event, reminding participants that "the contribution that you're making today is wonderful," in terms of immediately helping local veterans deal with such challenges as paying a utility bill or ensuring a safe place to stay. Golfers had the chance to bag a variety of prizes, with one of the biggest being a 2021 Honda Accord offered by Honda Cars of Aiken, to help add some interest for anyone hitting a hole-in-one.
Helping provide meals for the occasion was Tom Johnson, owner/operator of Aiken's Chick-fil-A. He expressed appreciation for work by Jack Morrison, the tournament's chairman, and added, "We're certainly honored to support the tournament and ... the fundraising efforts for the organization."
Among the veterans with decades of memories was 96-year-old Spartanburg resident Maurice Johnson, a World War II veteran who served in the Pacific. Johnson expressed thanks for the invitation to the golf tournament and recalled that he joined the Navy in March 1943, eventually serving as a gunner on a patrol bomber. He provided a personal history lesson and acknowledged his longevity.
'We arrived in Okinawa April the 1st, Easter Sunday, 1945, and we secured that island 82 days later. Now, I am here because of one person, named Harry Truman. He decided to drop the atomic bomb, and it saved my life, saved my daughter's life and her children's lives, and then we were supposed to occupy the homeland in Japan on my birthday — April 1, 1945. I would be 21 years old, and I want to thank Harry Truman again, because that's the only reason I'm still here."
Johnson, speaking to the golf crowd, picked up his mobile phone at that point. "Hello? Yes. Yeah. Yes, it is. Thank you, and tell Jesus I said hello, and I'll see him soon."
He held up the phone toward his listeners, facing a wave of laughter and applause, and proclaimed, "That was a local call!"
Among other major boosters for this year's event were Panera Bread, Dunkin' Donuts, Aiken Electric Cooperative, Outback Steakhouse and Grumpy's Sports Pub. The 2020 fundraiser was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
The beneficiary, according to promotional material, is an official 501(c)(3) charity founded by the local graduate associations of the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy.