WOOLRICH - The sweeping blades of the Black Hawk helicopter scattered debris as it landed, its backdrop the bright orange and deep crimson leaves of the forest behind Woolrich Flagship Store.
Out stepped military officials, led by Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, adjutant general, Pennsylvania Air and Army National Guard. Among others, he was joined by Gen. Randall R. Marchi, division commander, 28th Division, Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Solemnly they strode across the asphalt toward the 12 wounded veterans and their families.
Wednesday, Woolrich Inc., the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and The Mission Continues (a program that helps veterans readjust to civilian life) collaborated on an effort to recognize and honor local wounded war veterans. Veterans were given Freedom Throws, military challenge coins and warm commendations by officials, family and friends.
When Craig reached the veterans, he firmly clasped their hands, and listened to each of their stories.
"I was in an explosion," some told him.
"I lost some of my hearing," another said.
As they described their service and their injuries, their service and sacrifice for their country became clear.
And some gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Scott Ostrom, 1st Sgt. retired, of Liberty, was there in his son's stead. His son, Staff Sgt. Ryan S. Ostrom, 25, was killed in action in Iraq by a sniper on Aug. 9, 2005. He served with the National Guard.
As officials handed the veterans Freedom Throws, blankets made at Woolrich with flag designs and developed after 9/11, Ostrom grasped the throw as John Ranelli, Woolrich CEO, explained he was there for his son.
"As a father, getting this...it's emotional," Ostrom said afterward.
He expressed deep appreciation of the day, and that "they're still honoring him."