WARREN, Texas — The Warrior Bonfire Program provided five combat veterans a weekend of excitement and friendship.
Purple Heart recipient Corey Nixon, from Kansas says "It's a good way to re-charge the batteries and get back to camaraderie with your brothers."
Dozens of volunteers helped house the warriors at the Triple D Ranch in Warren.
Purple Heart recipient Stephen Blair, from Alaska says "It's unbelievable, I've heard rumors that Texas takes cares of their veterans and they weren't lying."
They all came from outside Tyler County (Alaska, Georgia, Kansas, Dallas & Nederland), pursuing a break away from home and the chance to rekindle the bond with their brothers in arms.
It's the second year in a row that the Warrior Bonfire Program Pig Hunt has been held at the ranch.
"There's something about that when you do it with really good people and other veterans," says Nixon. "You get to talk about it when you're done and it changes you're outlook for many months afterward."
For a couple members of the group, "sticking a pig" became a memorable experience.
Silver Star recipient Corey Speck, from Georgia says "I was pretty excited, I never stuck a pig with a knife before and I didn't know how that was going to go."
Blair adds "I checked off the bucket list, it was really cool."
Warrior Bonfire is designed to serve and cater to combat veterans who could use an activity with other servicemen to help cope with the effects of war.
The program primarily caters to veterans who have received the Purple Heart.
The award is dedicated for members of the military who have been wounded or killed in action.
Members of Warrior Bonfire tell us receiving the Purple Heart often marks the end of service which can result in troubling times for some veterans.
Events such as the Pig Hunt give these warriors an opportunity to connect with others who understand the battles during and after war while also giving them a memory to anticipate.
"I've met a lot of guys who are really suffering," says Speck. "They've been on hunts and while waiting on their mounts for 10 months, they're contemplating suicide and other stuff...That's ten more months of their life they can look forward to and wait for."
Activities also help reinforce the appreciation that Americans show toward servicemen and women.
Many people in the area helped make these five men feel welcomed by leading them on pig hunts, cooking meals and ensuring they feel comfortable around the ranch.
Warrior Bonfire keeps groups small with its activities on purpose to allow veterans a better chance to share stories and support each other.
At the end of each Bonfire event, veterans participate in a flag salute which honors those who have fallen.
Sunday marked the final day this group will be together, but the weekend of adventure and brotherhood will carry with them all the way home.
"This is family, now I know I've got a family in Texas," says Blair. "So, if I'm ever in this part of the world I'm going to stop by Triple D Ranch and visit them."
Warrior Bonfire organizes many events throughout the year in Southeast Texas and across the nation, including hunting, fishing, skiing, and more.
To sign up or learn more, you can visit warriorbonfireprogram.org.