"Operation Thank You," Giving Back To Those Who Serve Our Country

Every day thousands of men and women put their lives on the line to protect us and our country.  In an effort to show appreciation to all war vets, a Texoman teamed up with some fellow hunters and developed "Operation Thank You."

NewsChannel 6's Lindsey Rogers met up with the group as they kicked off their first day of the three day turkey hunt.

Sam Pharr is the owner of Gooserback Game Calls.  A few months ago he felt inspired to give back and organized "Operation Thank You," a contest for any Iraq or Afghanistan war vet.

"I feel humble that these people, these guys and gals are willing to put themselves in harms way for us," Pharr said.

Pharr teamed up with Texoma outfitter Clay Forst to provide a three day turkey hunt in Waurika, Oklahoma. 
"When Sam presented this idea, I didn't even hesitate, yes all the way and I was more than happy to do what I could, what small way to give back and say thank you," Forst said.

"It wasn't like choosing a job applicant because everyone does deserve it.  They deserve to be told thank you in a special way," Pharr said, so he had his daughter draw a name from all the nominees. The lucky winner was Daniel Reich.

Reich is a solider with the Oklahoma National Guard and spent most of 2008 serving in Camp Bucca, Iraq.

"I kind of felt like it was my obligation.  Less than three percent of the nation volunteers for the service and I figured I put my hat in the ring and do my part.  That's what it's all about," Reich said.

Reich is a husband and father of three.  He said he's honored to have been recognized for his services.

"We as soldiers don't expect anything, we get paid to do our jobs and that's what we're doing is a job.  But things like this, it makes you feel good, but you don't expect it," Reich said.

One goal for the trip was of course that Reich would walk away with a turkey.  After checking back in with them a couple days later we found that he did, plus, he got a little something extra to take home as well.

But more importantly, those who put together Operation Thank You hope Reich and all who serve our country know they are greatly appreciated.

"He's separated himself from his family for extended period of time, put himself in harms way.  He has sacrificed.  Whether we just didn't see the need or maybe we were afraid, he wasn't and that is something, I'm very glad there are people out there like him," Pharr said.

Reich said he plans to serve in the Oklahoma National Guard for at least the next 30 years.

He has been notified he will be returning overseas later this year or early next.

By Lindsey Rogers