Wounded soldiers get VIP treatment in Charlotte

Wounded soldiers get VIP treatment in Charlotte


by BORA KIM / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @BoraKimWCNC


Posted on May 23, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Updated Thursday, May 23 at 8:00 PM

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- For months, Lake Norman Baptist Church has been planning a special surprise to honor several of the country's wounded warriors.

Thursday afternoon, the soldiers arrived with their families to find a limo waiting at the airport and dozens of motorcyclists waiting to escort them to the church.

A crowd gathered outside the church in Huntersville, waving their flags as the soldiers arrived.  They were escorted by the Patriot Guard, Rolling Thunders, and the Christian Motorcycle Association.  Law enforcement and the American Red Cross were also on hand to assist in their arrival.

Beverley Schermerhorn, 76, helped organize the reunion.  She told NBC Charlotte the soldiers are among eight adopted by the church through their work with Operation for Wounded Veterans.  Over the years, her senior group has helped write letters and send care packages to more than 300 soldiers serving overseas.

"We've formed a union, a bond, that usually forms in immediate families and I get very emotional when I talk about these guys because they have become family.  They are family to all of us," Schermerhorn said.

Army Specialist Corey Garmon and Specialist Eric Hunter were wounded by an improvised explosive device during their tour of duty in Afghanistan.  Between the two of them they have undergone more than 100 surgeries.  They both have another year of treatment to go at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

Bill Crawford is organizing the Memorial Day program for the church.  He said every year they plan something special to honor U.S. veterans, but this is the first time they have done something like this.

"They have wounds that would break your heart, but they have a spirit that will lift your heart," said Crawford.  "None of them feel sorry for themselves, they don't want you feeling sorry for themselves.  They don't want your pity, they want your love and they want your appreciation for the sacrifices they have made," he said.

Garmon's parents and sister also arrived in North Carolina from Alabama.  They wanted to share the special moment with Corey.

"He's not only an inspiration to me as a dad, but to his immediate family and a lot of people back home," said Chris Garmon.

"It's miraculous.  It's better than medicine," said Corey's mother, Lori, about how the church's support has helped her son in the healing process.

His younger sister, Jordyn, was also on hand, overcome by emotion when perfect strangers came to offer hugs and words of encouragement.

"It's very special.  It's a touching moment for me. It's amazing to know there are amazing people out there," she said.

The church has planned a series of special VIP activities, inviting soldiers and families for an all expense trip this weekend.