Big Sky SAS event helping wounded vets


by Dan Boyce

BIG SKY – More than 50 wounded veterans from around the country are taking part in a five day excursion which is being held in the Big Sky area.

The soldiers attending Operation Sports, Afield, and Stream (SAS), have each sustained serious injuries in the war on terror.

During the trip, the soldiers engage in winter sports, hunting clinics, tours of Yellowstone National Park and more.

The banquet which kicked off the event was packed with family, friends and the local American Legion as Montana Senator Jon Tester and Montana Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger also joined the veterans.

The event was emceed by Country Music star Lee Greenwood who says that SAS helps the soldiers regain self confidence.

They have to rediscover what their talents are, what their energies are, what their focus is for the future, and that's what we're gonna do here," Greenwood told us.

It was a room packed full of emotion and powerful stories and Montana's News Station met withtwo attendees with an incredible connection.

Most family we come to through birth, but some family we find through circumstance. Peg O'Donnell and Scott Kruchten are attending Operation SAS from Wisconsin.

Kruchten does not retain the visible marks seen by many of the wounded warriors, but don't think that makes his a short injury list though.

"Broken leg, two broken ribs, broken shoulder, head injury two blood clots, emergency brain surgery in Baghdad."

He takes medicine now to guard against seizures.

Peg helped found Operation Never Forgotten. "Get out there and have a great time."

That's the nonprofit that spearheads the SAS event. Her son, Lance Corporal Shane O'Donnell, was killed in Iraq in 2004 when his group's Humvee rolled over an improvised explosive device.

It was an explosion leaving only one survivor, a man who should not have survived the helicopter flight to Baghdad.

Scott says that if each service member in Big Sky experiences something new then that's living life a little more.