Missouri Veterans paddle length of Mississippi River - KMOV.com

Missouri Veterans paddle length of Mississippi River

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A trio of veterans stopped in St. Louis while paddling down the Mississippi River (Credit: KMOV) A trio of veterans stopped in St. Louis while paddling down the Mississippi River (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Right now, a trio of female combat veterans is paddling down the Mississippi River, just south of St. Louis. They started in Minnesota and will end up in Louisiana following a grueling three-month journey.

“I went and did a tour in Afghanistan and then Iraq,” said St. Louis native Annie Ferguson, a member of the Navy reserve. “Every day is different. We started where the Mississippi is a few inches deep and like two feet wide Then you start to transition to the locks and dams.”

The Port of St. Louis was another area they had to brace for.

“You start to meet barges and you feel like you’re in ‘Honey I shrunk the kids.’ Everything to us on the river feels so big. Bridges are big. Boats are big. We stay together. You have to be smart. Use your natural instincts. And you get through it,” said Ferguson.

Along with her is another Missouri woman, Dana Phillips, who spent 30 years doing aircraft maintenance. The third companion is a mom from North Carolina, Michelle Revoir, who served 11 years with the Air Force as an aerial combat broadcaster.

While these women are pushing their physical limit, their minds are also racing, with thoughts of war and work.

“You can’t forget that stuff. And you don’t want to forget it. It makes you better at your job in the future,” said Ferguson. “It’s a really harsh transition and you just can’t process it that quickly.”

That time of reflection is truly the purpose of these warrior expeditions.

“Outdoor therapy is one of the best ways to really deal with everything you went through on a deployment to deal with coming home from a deployment,” said Revoir.

The non-profit ‘Warrior Expeditions’ provides the team with everything they need, like the canoes and gear but it’s also random people along the way that help keep them going.

“River angels we call them,” said Ferguson. “These people will just be randomly sitting on their dock or they’ll see us from all the way down the way from their porch and they’ll be like ‘What are you doing?’ and we’ll be like ‘We’re paddling the Mississippi.’ ‘Hold on five minutes!’ and they come down ‘You want a beer? You want food? You want a place to stay?’ The most random people but the most giving people. They don’t ask for anything in return. They want stories and our experiences so they kind of live through you for a day. They are so happy when we leave and we are too because we got a shower or we might have gotten some home cooked food and these people just keep appearing and keep giving and it’s like it doesn’t stop,” said Ferguson.

Then, after a visit and rest, it’s time to push out again, paddle, and ponder. 

If you want to follow their journey, search for “mightymississippigypsy” on Instagram or follow Warrior Expeditions on Facebook. To donate to fund a trip like this, visit warriorexpeditions.org.

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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