Letter: Soldiers’ respite realized, thanks to Rappahannock

Recuperating soldiers, family members and tour guides gather for a photo at Gray Ghost in Amissville.

My wife and I have had a small farm in Rappahannock County for more than 10 years, during which time our appreciation of the county and its residents has steadily grown. This appreciation jumped sky-high on the Saturday before Thanksgiving when, with the support of the USO, we invited to the county a group of recuperating soldiers from Walter Reed Hospital and their families for a day-long escape from the routine. All of the soldiers and family members had a fabulous time, and on their behalf (as well as the USO’s) we want to thank those in Rappahannock County who made the day so special.

The day’s activities started at the Gray Ghost Vineyards where Al and Cheryl Kellert and their daughter Amy Payette hosted the group for a tour, wine-tasting and lunch. All of us learned to appreciate the effort that goes into every bottle of their award-winning wines. John Tole with the Rappahannock Historical Society then gave an informative presentation on local history during a circuitous bus tour via Viewtown and Ben Venue to Washington. We were welcomed at the Inn at Little Washington by Chris Castle for a tour during which all of us were wowed, especially by all the preparations for the evening meal underway in the Inn’s magnificent kitchen.

After we visited the Inn, Tole continued his tour during the drive to our farm where the soldiers and their families enjoyed a little hiking and relaxation, distant from the sterile hospital setting at Walter Reed. One of the soldiers brought along his three kids who unreservedly explored the pastures and woods without their parents feeling they had to hover over them. At around 5 p.m., the USO bus took the group to the Copper Fox Distillery for an entertaining tour by Rick and Chelsea Wasmund. By the end of the tour we all marveled at the centuries-old distilling processes and imaginative innovations that go into Rick’s single-malt whisky. Following the tour we returned to our farm for dinner and relaxation until, well into the evening, the USO bus had to return to Walter Reed.

On behalf of the solders, their families and the USO, my wife and I want to express our heartfelt thanks to the Gray Ghost, the Rappahannock Historical Society, the Inn and Copper Fox for your hospitality and assistance. We also want to thank J.D. Hartman at High on the Hog BBQ for contributing lunch, Carl Payne and his brother-in-law for cooking a delicious main course of venison for dinner and Manuel Garcia for building wheelchair ramps at our farmhouse. We are looking forward to the opportunity in the spring to again invite a group of recuperating soldiers and their families to beautiful welcoming Rappahannock County!

John and Jyl Pomeroy

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