Volunteers team with Arctic Cat to bring veterans on snowmobile ride in Mahnomen County

Volunteers show appreciation to vets, who value the chance to connect with others on the trails.

Veterans from around our region gathered at Pinehurst Resort near Naytahwaush, Minnesota for a special snowmobile ride to thank them for their service.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News

NAYTAHWAUSH, Minn. — At Pinehurst Resort, volunteers brought veterans from our region together for a day of snowmobiling in the forests of Mahnomen County Tuesday, Jan. 31.

The Nightriders Snowmobile Club — along with the Brady Oberg Foundation — worked with Arctic Cat to bring 20 snowmobiles down from Thief River Falls.

"This great organization approached us (Arctic Cat) for support. There wasn't a question of 'if,' it was a question of, 'when and what do you need,'" said Bruce Starkey, a snowmobile engineer for Arctic Cat.

The veterans gathered late in the morning at Pinehurst Resort for the veterans snowmobile ride. Another group of veterans will gather Wednesday morning for day two of the event.

"It'll be fun to get to know all these guys and it'll be fun to get them all together and having a good time," said Ben Baumann, Pinehurst Resort owner and president of Nightrider Snowmobile Club.


Veterans Chris Deery, Tony Baker and Brian Watters were all deployed to Iraq in 2005. This snowmobile ride has brought them together.

"(V)eterans can connect to each other, and they don't even have to (...) explain anything. You just look at each other and say, 'Yep, I get it,'" Baker said.

"You have a lot in common, and you start from that common foundation and I've built a lot of really close friendships with veterans that I've met over the years," Watters said.

Still, 18 years after the deployment, there is something about maintaining that camaraderie.

"Like you said, not everyone gets to come home, and we're proud of what we did and served and just to honor those too," Deery said.

After a safety meeting, more than 40 people and their sleds headed out for the afternoon ride in sub-zero temps, through forests and across lakes in Mahnomen County.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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