Proceeds from the Marion County Veterans Picnic are going to help wounded veterans in Mississippi.
At a ceremony Tuesday morning at Second Street Bean, retired U.S. Army National Guard Gen. James “Ike” Pylant accepted a check for $5,000 from Mark Retcho, chairman of the annual picnic.
“I assure you that the Wounded Minutemen of Mississippi will put this to good use,” Pylant said as Retcho handed him the check while surrounded by other veterans.
Last year the charity gave $3,500 apiece to 14 wounded veterans.
It was the fifth year for the picnic, and Retcho said they hope to increase the amount they’re able to raise every time.
“This coming year for the picnic, we’re bringing back the Vietnam War Exhibit that has more than 2,000 artifacts, and we hope to have the high schools for the area come and tour it,” he said. “We hope they come from Tylertown and Hattiesburg besides Columbia and Marion County to enjoy it. That Saturday, it will be open to the public and we’ll have the car show. We’re looking for a big year this year and we’ve got the National Guard more involved and a lot of the community is stepping up.”
He said they started out with having 5Ks, “but they just weren’t giving us the amount of money we needed to help these guys out with, so we went to the car shows and it exploded. Everybody likes to look at cars. It’s a good thing and I’m happy to see it is growing.”
Pylant, who is co-chair of the Wounded Minutemen, said it was an honor to accept the donation raised by fellow veterans and that it’s the biggest donation his organization receives every year. Overall the nonprofit has raised more than $242,000 through the years, which has been given to 53 soldiers and airmen.
The Wounded Minutemen of Mississippi is currently planning a golf tournament for April 9 at Pine Creek Golf Club in Purvis. Signups may be done online at woundedminuteman.com.
Pylant said it’s amazing the response they get from people wanting to give.
“We have support from all over South Mississippi and the Coast, through the whole state, really,” he said. “We get help from a lot of VFWs and American Legions. It really helps us out. The more we get, the more we help each soldier. We give away 99.9 percent of all our money. We keep a small amount to start the next year on. I think we kept $600 to start this year on. We give any money away we get. We are so thankful for all of the donations.”
Pictured Above: The Wounded Minutemen of Mississippi received a check from The Marion County Veterans Picnic committee Tuesday morning. From left are VFW Post 5393 Commander Edward Corker, Picnic Chairman Mark Retcho, VFW Auxiliary President Mattie Corker, Leo Stringer and Gen. James “Ike” Pylant of the Wounded Minutemen of Mississippi. | Photo by Mark Rogers