Navy vets open home to wounded troops

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Representatives from the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 91 presented Don and Carol Shipley with a $10,000 donation Friday. The Shipleys operate “Warriors’ Rest,” a home on Bar Neck, where wounded troops can relax and recuperate. From the left are Racheal Wilcox, Wallace Willey, Don Wilcox, Don and Carol Shipley.

BAR NECK — Warriors’ Rest has opened on Bar Neck west of Cambridge. The site serves wounded troops, offering them a chance to recuperate, to hunt, and to relax in the rural surroundings.
Don and Carol Shipley own and operate Warriors’ Rest, an 80-acres farm on Beckwith Creek in the Neck District. After long careers in the U.S. Navy — Mr. Shipley was a SEAL, more on that later — they decided there were still missions to complete.

“We wanted to start a charity,” Mrs. Shipley said. However, they were unable to find just the right place.

Then they were invited to the Grand National Waterfowl Hunt and realized Dorchester County might be the spot for a restful lodge. Soon, they found a farm on the water, with a converted barn featuring four bedrooms, a common kitchen and a comfortable living room.

They found the community accepted them and their project. “People have been very welcoming to us,” Mrs. Shipley said.

Sons of the Legion
Among those hospitable locals are the members of Sons of the American Legion Squadron 91, who have donated $10,000 three years in a row. Past Commander Don Wilcox and Adjutant Wallace Willey made this year’s presentation on Friday.
“We stand behind them whole heartedly,” Mr. Wilcox said. “It’s nice to know there are people doing this,” adding that American Legion Post 91 has also donated to the home.

Warriors’ Rest returns the favor by helping local causes. In an email to the Banner, Ms. Shipley wrote, “Our charity supports the Grand National Waterfowl Assn, 4-H Youth Hunters, Patriot Point and Ducks Unlimited.”

Mr. Shipley said they have guests at every hunting season. They are careful, he said, not to overhunt the property.

Neighbors have pitched in when needed, such as when the birds aren’t cooperating. “There’s no shortage of other farms or farmers” willing to let the wounded vets hunt, Mr. Shipley said.

‘Strong, strong men’
And those wounds are often very serious – double amputees and burn victims are among them. One man, a Marine named Isaac, exemplifies the spirit the Shipleys find among many of their guests.

Burned over 90 percent of his body, Isaac has a noticeably scarred face. Just for fun, when the party starts ‑ and they do party, good and hard, the Shipleys say – Isaac might take off his prosthetic ears and put them on backwards.

Or drop one in your drink.

Crazy? Maybe a little.

But pretty brave for a guy with disfiguring injuries.

They are “strong, strong men,” Mrs. Shipley said.

Stolen valor
Knowing the sacrifices made by many in the service has led the couple to another project, exposing fake claims of heroism in cases known as “stolen valor.” There are charlatans, Mr. Shipley says, many of whom claim to be SEALS, and who use their phony status to bilk others, not only of sympathy but of money.

“I debunk an awful lot of those things,” he said.
The Navy’s — many would say the nation’s — premier special forces units are known by the acronym SEAL, from “Sea, Air and Land,” after the variety of conditions in which the men are trained to deploy and fight.

There is a data bank that lists every member of the SEALS, going back to the early days 73 years ago. Mr. Shipley verifies up to 50 claims every day.
He began by distributing what he calls “Internet a** kickings,” but decided to step it up a notch.

Now, the couple travels to confront the fakes in person, and demand that they cease their claims.
“You really have to be careful who you donate to,” Mr. Shipley said.

Best outlook
In the meantime, the Shipleys are preparing for the fall seasons. “I’ll take the guys hunting and Diane will do what she’s done for so many of ‘her boys’ for so many years, be a Mom to everyone and cook those birds we bring home,” he says in a statement on the home’s website.

“They’re incredible,” Ms. Shipley said. “They have the best outlook on life.”

To learn more about Warriors’ Rest, visit https://videos.extremesealexperience.com. To see a trailer on the Shipley’s debunking work, visit http://www.extremesealadventures.org.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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