Support our veterans, support Patriot Point

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff Ducks fly over a wetland impoundment and a hunting blind Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Patriot Point.

Dorchester Banner/Bob Zimberoff
Ducks fly over a wetland impoundment and a hunting blind Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Patriot Point.

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Anyone with a mind to support our wounded military veterans has a fantastic opportunity to help invite our heroes to the shores of Dorchester County at Patriot Point.

The property, 20 minutes southwest of Cambridge adjacent to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, was purchased by the D.C. Bowl Committee earlier this year. The committee runs an annual college football game in Annapolis and has donated thousands of dollars to the United Service Organization.

With 290 acres, 2.3 miles of shoreline along Parsons and Slaughters creeks, and a sweeping view of the mouth of the Little Choptank River, the mission at Patriot Point is to provide, “a relaxing and safe environment for our nation’s recovering service members and their families to enjoy the outdoors …” according to literature provided by Steve Beck, managing member of the property and its supporting organization.

Mr. Beck helps to continue a tradition of former property owner James Bugg. Mr. Bugg, a World War II veteran and former chairman of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, often hosted wounded veterans when the property was known as Poverty Point. When Mr. Bugg passed away in 2015, Stuart Plank, a member of the D.C. Touchdown Club’s Executive Committee, saw an opportunity to continue the cause for our veterans.

Using $500,000 in state funding and more in private donations, the staff at Patriot Point is gearing up for it’s first hunting season and looking forward to hosting more and more veterans. Veterans stayed at the point while the property was under renovation.

In the article “Serene retreat caters to wounded warriors” that was printed on the front page of the Oct. 14 edition of the Dorchester Banner, Karl Schwartz, with Heroes on the Water — George Washington Chapter, was quoted as saying, “This is going to be an awesome facility for warriors and their families to get away and reconnect. … The property and its views are hard to leave.”

Mr. Schwartz organized a veterans outing to Patriot Point in August. I visited in mid-October for about two hours, and when the time came, I wasn’t quite ready to leave myself. I wanted to kick up my feet, take in the many wonderful views, smell the salt on the air and listen to the waves gently lapping at the shore.

The property was once owned by silent movie star Clara Bow in the 1920s. The main house and nearby guest house are situated near the river and a freshwater pond. Patriot Point is a place of peace.

Tim Mitchell has been property and wildlife manager at the point for more than seven years. His know-how and disposition make Patriot Point even more inviting. Working under Mr. Bugg, he has hosted our veterans in the past and can relate directly to them. Mr. Mitchell is a Vietnam veteran who served in the Air Force and was tasked with recovering the wreckage of plane crashes. He bore witness to the horrible aftermath of air combat.

Mitchell has a wealth of experience in wildlife management, having worked in the field (quite literally) for more than 45 years. He formerly managed more than 5,000 acres at Greystone Castle in Texas. He also maintained more than 15,000 acres in New Mexico and a 500-acre hunting preserve in Illinois.

With waterfowl hunting season quickly approaching, Mr. Mitchell has raised a flock of 1,500 Mallard ducks in a 16-acre flooded impoundment at Patriot Point. Veterans have opportunities to hunt other types of ducks, turkey, pheasant, Sika and whitetail deer, along with a chance to board a boat and catch any fish the Bay has to offer. Shooting stands for sporting clays are also available.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property. I love this property,” Mr. Mitchell told me when I visited in mid-October. “This time of year, when it gets cold, it’s a pleasure to be out here.”

Mr. Mitchell also said he has “thoroughly enjoyed” hosting our wounded veterans. With a pleasant, warm demeanor, expertise in wildlife, and his experience in Vietnam, Mr. Mitchell is a perfect host for Patriot Point, but he needs our help.

Mr. Mitchell is in immediate need of equipment to better host wounded veterans and grow the operation, including all-terrain vehicles, fishing supplies, boat maintenance, kayaks, paddleboards, bicycles, hunting supplies including ammunition and duck-blind improvements, a jon boat and archery equipment.

Beyond a need for supplies, the leaders at Patriot Point have grand plans for its future. Long-term plans include upgrading and renovating buildings already on site as well as building new facilities. Blueprints are ready for the construction of an 11-bedroom, $3 million lodge overlooking the waterfront and beach. The lodge will include a great room with a pool table, card table, TVs and couches; a dining area for group meals; ample patio and deck space and a putting green.

With Mr. Mitchell ready and able to provide a great outdoor experience for our wounded heroes, Patriot Point is sure to be an exceptional destination for respite, rest and relaxation. With help from donations and volunteerism, the tranquil waterfront property could soon become a premier destination for veterans right here in Dorchester County.

For more information about Patriot Point, to volunteer or donate, contact Mr. Beck at sbeck@militarybowl.org or visit Patriotpoint.org.

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