EASLEY—For several United States Marines, this was a day to remember.
A group of injured Marines stopped in Easley Monday afternoon on their way to Lake Keowee, and were welcomed by a large crowd and more than 600 motorcycles.
Communities 4 Warriors makes the trip possible for several wounded soldiers each year, and some were surprised at their reception.
“This is kind of amazing for me,” said Cosell Payne, a Marine from Georgia. “This is my first time coming. I’ve always heard about it, but the love these people are showing: you can’t explain it.”
The assembled crowd was on hand to greet the soldiers, share with music and food, and thank them for their service.
“It’s great to see a lot of veterans out here,” said Payne. “I think it’s going to be some good times. I’m really looking forward to the four days down here.”
Payne says a few days at the lake have never looked better.
“We’re going to do some canoeing, water skis and archery,” said Payne with a smile. “Just a little bit of rest and relaxation.”
The brutal reality for the soldiers is that they have all suffered traumatic experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Payne says there are no words to describe what it is like over there.
“(It’s shocking) for people who have never been there to see how those people are living,” said Payne. “I’ve been twice, and it’s just crazy how their living over there.”
For that very reason, Easley was a sight for sore eyes on Monday.
“Just to be able to come back home makes you happy. There are actually trees” said Payne with a laugh. “I’m just happy to be back. I can’t explain it.”
As for what else Payne might have on his schedule during his time off, well, he might be able to think of something.
“I like old cars,” said Payne. “I’ve got a ‘55 Chevy Bel Air, so I just want to cruise.”
Nearly 40 Marines and a convoy of patriotic vehicles cruised down Highway 123 in route to Lake Keowee.