It was just over a year ago when 23 year-old Matthew Pundyk dodged death in Afghanistan.
“I stepped on an IED that was buried in the road and I lost my left leg,” said Pundyk.
Now, he has a prosthetic left leg and is continuing to receive physical therapy in San Antonio, Texas.
But that hasn’t stopped him from doing the things he loves in life.
Saturday, he found himself in Sabula, Iowa as the honored wounded warrior for the second annual military pheasant hunt. The event is hosted by the Clinton County Chapter of Pheasants Forever Iowa.
Dave Crockett is a veteran of the Navy and started this event a year ago. He wanted to help not only veterans, but those who have been wounded in battle.
“It was our feeling that we wanted to get wounded warriors involved, not just veterans and active duty guys,” said Crockett.
So when Crockett heard Pundyk’s story, he invited him to the event.
The Clinton County Pheasants Forever Chapter pays for their wounded warrior guest’s flight and hotel while they are visiting.
Over 90 people hunted in the event, many of which are military veterans. As a small group of men walk the hills through the rain and the muddy cornfield, Pundyk walked just like everybody else.
“I was able to walk quite a bit today and my legs are a little soar,” said Pundyk.
Hunting with Pundyk, was Sergeant Wally Mcfadden of the United States Army. He is currently stationed at the Rock Island Arsenal and participated in the pheasant hunt for the first time Saturday.
“I can tell you that we had a ball today,” said Mcfadden.
As the sunset and the hunt came to an end, Pundyk and his group had gotten seven pheasants. But the real treasure was the togetherness the veterans displayed.
“You may not know someone, but if they are military, you have a common bond so everybody is kind of like family,” said Pundyk.
As the honored wounded warrior posed with his prized birds, Crockett stood in amazement at how such a young man like Pundyk could make such an influence on a person.
“He is a special person. He is a wounded warrior who is going to be successful. There is no doubt in my mind,” Crockett said.
Pundyk plans to retire from the Army next year and attend Texas State University. He says he will be back to Iowa for future hunts.