Daniel Bond doesn’t show his 30 years of hunting rust
By Kyle LoJacono
It had been 30 years since Daniel Bond was on a hunting trip, but it seems the Pasco Lutz resident has a natural gift for it.
He was one of nine veterans invited to the 11th annual Billy Ray Parnell Purple Heart Memorial Hunt at Legends Ranch in Michigan Aug. 30 to Sept. 3. All nine were wounded while serving in the military and received Purple Heart awards.
“It was unbelievable,” Bond said. “The most amazing thing is how much different veterans are treated now as opposed to when I served in Vietnam. We didn’t get parades or anything like that when we got home, so it was very humbling to have this kind of treatment and to see how much public opinion has changed.”
Bond, 62, was the only one from Florida on the trip. Six of the nine were Vietnam War veterans, while one apiece was from World War II, the Korean War and the war in Iraq.
In his youth, Bond hunted regularly where he grew up in Michigan, but his injuries combined with the cold of the Midwest state forced him to give it up. Even though he had three decades of rust to kick off, he did so quickly and got a 9-point whitetail buck that weighed 180 pounds.
“The amazing thing is the last day we took a picture with all the guys and the seven deer we got,” Bond said. “It was great to hear all the stories from the guys of how they got their bucks.”
All the deer will be stuffed and mounted for free for the veterans. Bond said he will get his sometime next year.
Skipper Bettis, the ranch’s owner, said he started the event because he had a friend named Billy Ray Parnell who signed up with him for military service. Bettis was not allowed to serve because of a bad knee. Parnell went to Vietnam in 1970 and was killed in action.
“I do the event each year to honor my old friend and to give back to our heroes,” Bettis said. “It’s a small thing I can do to give them a good time and thank them for everything they’ve done.”
Bond served in the military for two years starting when he was drafted in May 1968. At the time he was a 21-year-old college student entering his sophomore year. Bond said people needed to take 12 credit hours to be considered full-time students and avoid the draft.
“I was taking 14 hours and dropped one class, which took me to 11,” Bond said. “I remember thinking at first what if I get drafted, but then figured they wouldn’t draft me and I’d just take 12 hours again the next semester. I was wrong.”
He received his draft notice three weeks later. Instead of going to the Army, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He said while it was not his original plan, he was still very proud to serve his country.
He was injured Nov. 1, 1968 when he was shot three times by an AK-47. The first shot hit him just above the left knee. He was down for about an hour in a swamp before being shot again, which grazed his back. He was hit the last time an hour and a half later in his side near his hip. The last bullet traveled up into his chest near his arm.
He was taken to a hospital in Chicago, which he stayed at for more than two years. He had to stay for so long because a lot of infection had set in during his two and a half hours in the swamp. The wound to his knee still gives him problems and he uses a cane to get around.
Bond said his family has a long history of military service dating back to the Civil War. His father, Kenneth, was a pilot in World War II and his son, Garrett, is a commissioned officer in the Marines.
Bond retired from a job as long-haul truck driver about two years ago. He lives with his wife Rosa.
For more information on the ranch or the hunting tournament, visit www.legendsranch.com.
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