Over 100 people gathered May 17, 2014 for the Norwich Annual Poker Run in Norwich, NY. Sponsored by the American Legion Riders Post 189, legionnaires and friends rode through the chilly morning to support Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. Over $5000.00 was raised!
Bill Fowler, Sergeant at Arms, American Legion Riders Post 189 stated “We will ride in Honor of America’s Heroes and in support of those same Sons and Daughters of this Great Land, that have been wounded on battlefields far from their homes. These Great Men and Women were not drafted or conscripted into service – they went because they love America and know they live in the Greatest Nation to ever exist, on this planet.”
Thank you to all of the riders and supporters who made this year’s American legion Riders Benefit for LHCP a success.
May 10, 2014 was the annual LHCP Wreath Laying at Arlington National Cemetery. 21 people gathered at Arlington National Cemetery. Participants this year in laying the wreath were Mr. David Buck, Petty Officer First Class Jeremy Grimord, TSgt Jason Kingham and Mr. George Gray.
As is the tradition with LHCP, we lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown and then lay flowers at the gravesites of men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice in defending our nation.
The group reflected on their feelings about the day.
Jason and Jennifer said they were honored to commemorate our fallen warriors at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. George stated it was a privilege and honor to lay the wreath and remember the sacrifice of those buried in this hallowed place. David said it had to be the experience of a lifetime. Michelle said that today rekindled the pride that she felt the first time she put on her uniform. Jo Ann stated it was emotional and a lovely recognition of people. Brittney said it leaves you with a loss of words.
Asked about the favorite thing of the day, Jason and Jennifer responded that Section 60 was special. Section 60 is dedicated to those service members who have given the ultimate sacrifice in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Reading the biographies of each fallen warrior gives us a glimpse into their lives, which made it a more personal experience. Casey and Debbie stated they were very proud and deeply moved to witness their son, TSgt. Jason Kingham, lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown.
When asked about the day in general, the group responded that it was a special day to remember. The Tomb of the Unknown, the sentry’s watching over those known only to God shows a dedication to the people who serve our country and shows what it actually means to love your country.
At the end of the day, the group paid their respects at the Pentagon Memorial. It was a touching moment of reflection to finish this day.
LHCP is in need of your help ASAP! The past 2 weeks we have had a extremely large increase in “wish list” items, from 10 new contacts in Afghanistan asking for our support for their units. We have sources to make these bulk purchases but we need the funds to do so. If you can help with a donation of $5 it will be a great help. Please send your tax deductible donations ASAP so we can inform the units we will be able to support them. Thank you!!
Sharon Buck LHCP Treasurer 4204 Summerville Road Phenix City, AL 36867
by Maj. Nicole David 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar – The stress of deployment can present challenges to service members. Depression, stress, anxiety and relationship issues are a few examples of common issues that service members experience during time away from loved ones. On March 30, 2014, the Mental Health Clinic of the 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron provided an open house to all military members on base, offering a variety of quality of life items to help boost morale and also remind the troops that help is always available.
The open house idea was the result of the mental health clinic receiving 20 boxes from the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, a non-profit organization that provides comfort and relief items for military members. Each shipment LHCP sends is in honor of a fallen warrior and their photo and a short biography is taped to the outside of every box mailed, as a reminder of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
The boxes were filled with approximately $20,000 worth of donations of toiletries, towels, mattress covers, handmade pillows and blankets, food items, novels, DVDs, video games and much more, all free to any Airman, joint or coalition partner who paid the clinic a visit.
“We really wanted to host this open house, not only to provide comfort items to people, but also because we wanted to put a face to the mental health clinic services,” said Master Sgt. Allison Weeks, the outpatient services flight chief deployed from Eielson Air Force Base, AK. “Sometimes seeing and talking to those of us who can support, encourages Airmen to seek help and come back and talk with us.”
Seeking professional help is not an easy thing to do, another reason why the mental health clinic wanted to host an open house. Weeks, a native of Palmer, Alaska, pointed out that providing this opportunity allows service members to interact with the professionals in a relaxed, unofficial setting that provides some comforts of home and helps people feel less isolated.
The challenge of working in the military can be physically, emotionally and mentally taxing, especially while deployed. That is why it is important for service members to take deliberate care of one’s physical and mental health. Taking direct action to cope with stressors is empowering and one way to do this is by talking to a mental health professional. Actively coping is an attitude and a habit that must be strengthened through practice, even when there is no crisis.
As Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, “Mental health treatment is a choice that embodies moral courage, honor, and integrity.”
A common theme pervaded the latest Landstuhl Hospital Care Project benefit show: help. While LHCP has always been about providing the best help it can to wounded servicemen and women, a few star country music artists decided LHCP itself was worthy of a bit of their time and help. The project received a much appreciated shot in the arm Sunday, May 23, in Franklin, Tenn., at a country music benefit concert hosted by the Grace Chapel church and featuring a star-studded cast of singer/song-writers.
“The first time I saw the video of Karen [the CBS News special], my heart broke in half, and I thought, ‘whatever I can do to help her, I’m gonna do it,’” said songwriter Leslie Satcher. “I feel like it’s such a small part that I’m doing, but hopefully our small part sets a fire to people who can actually do a big part.”
With tremendous help from Songwriters Spotlight’s Korene Stevens and David Allen, the event was able to feature country music artists Satcher, Casey Beathard, Allen Shamblin and Tim Rushlow. Each performed several tracks from their award-winning songbooks, and recording group Raven Cliff made their second LHCP fundraiser appearance, crooning and harmonizing their way through a crowd-pleasing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Stevens’ husband, Even – who performed at the Franklin Theater as a part of the last LHCP benefit here – echoed Satcher’s theme of wanting to get involved from the moment he heard about Karen and the project.
“My wife and I were sitting and watching a Sunday morning news show,” he said. “We saw that video and we do a lot of benefits and thought, ‘Well that’s what we should do!’.”
The host venue, Grace Chapel, could hardly have been a more perfect setting for the country and, at times gospel, themed music of the night, with its high, barnlike ceilings and the rolling fields surrounding the low sloping red roofs warming everyone up to the mood as they rolled up Southall Road.
Once the crowded church auditorium was familiarized with the mission of LHCP and watched the CBS piece, a show of nearly two hours commenced, included some huge hits from yesterday and today.
While Satcher’s blazing guitar hands and bluesy howl highlighted hits like “When God-Fearin’ Women Get the Blues” and “Tough”, Shamblin often elected to go with a slower pace on his “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and “The House That Built Me”, even getting the crowd to reminisce with him and song along on “We Were In Love.”
Sandwiching those two on either end of the stage were Beathard and former Little Texas member Rushlow.
“My heroes have always been, in this order, Jesus, my wife, my parents, and then our soldiers… People that are serving right now, people that are veterans, I just love to get with them. I get star struck around them.” said Beathard. “Anything I could do for them, I’ll do it, because that’s what they’re doing for us.”
Beathard contrasted the bombastic personality of Satcher to his left, with a self-deprecating style that complemented his relaxed style of performance on songs including “Find out Who Your Friends Are.” Rushlow performed Little Texas’ huge hit “What Might Have Been”, along with a number of cuts he’s been putting down for an upcoming album release.
By the end of the night, the audience had been taken through a healthy up-and-down of emotions, even hearing from a former soldier who was cared for and treated at Landstuhl, before the project made things a little more comfortable there.
They won’t be in a Mustang doing 80, but thanks to the efforts of a host of middle Tennesseans, a lot of boxes will be making their way across the Atlantic to Germany.
For the 8th year in a row, the American Legion Riders from the LT Warren Eaton Post 189 – Norwich New York sponsored a Benefit Poker Run to support the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. Armed Forces Day (May 18th) 2013 was a slightly overcast but very comfortable day for a ride through the hills, valleys, and farmlands of beautiful Chenango County New York. The Legion Riders began their day with Breakfast at the Ontario Hotel and were glad to have the chance to visit with Karen and Brian Grimord before the hectic festivities started. Eager participants began arriving at the Post-Home shortly after 9 AM while the Legion Riders were setting up and preparing for registration.
The bikes started to rumble in quickly after that and our staff was busy filling out paperwork, selling various raffle tickets, providing coffee and donuts and parking bikes. We kicked off the formal portion at about 10:45 AM with a blessing and the Pledge of Allegiance. Chapter President Paul Russo introduced key group members: VP Jim Cushman; Secretary Sophie Liberatore; Treasurer Resi Fuller; Membership Chair Jerry Reyes; and Ride Captain/Sergeant at Arms/Safety Officer Bill Fowler. Also recognized were our friends from various other Legion Rider Chapters, members of the Blue Knights, members of the Leathernecks, members of the local Under my Skin group, Karen and Brian Grimord as well as Norwich Chief of Police Joe Angelino. Chief Angelino is a Combat Vet and Purple Heart recipient that actually had recovered from wounds, received in Iraq, at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Yankee Bill Fowler provided a ride safety briefing and the ride got underway to the cheers of many from the local neighborhood that had gathered outside the Legion parking lot’s back gate. There were over 100 participants signed in and the roar of over 80 cycles through the normally quiet Norwich streets was awesome!
Our first stop was at the NYS Veterans Home in Oxford – we paused to visit with a few of the Vet Residents that came outside to greet us and then it was back on the road to our lunch stop at the Balsam Inn in East Pharsalia – delicious grilled sandwiches and some door prize giveaways. Rolling again – we make our way to the hamlet of DeRuyter and the ‘Middleton Military Memorial’ – Retired First Sergeant and Viet Nam Vet – Bill Middleton has created a beautiful and solemn place to commemorate those that served and sacrificed during that conflict…the display includes a Viet Nam era UH-1 ‘Huey’ Helicopter that was ‘in-country’ and flew on many missions. After a few group photos we saddled up again for the longest leg of the day’s ride.
Riding back roads from DeRuyter through Georgetown and Earlville, on our way to Sherburne, we passed many farms and fields – people stopped their yard work and outdoor activities to watch and wave at our parade. We were treated to a great view of some of the local Mennonite farmers working their fields with awesomely huge draw horses – that was quite a sight! We arrived safely back in ‘civilization’ and stopped at the Gilligans’ Island Ice Cream shop for some cool treats. Gilligans has been a great supporter of LHCP – setting aside ‘donation days’ for the charity when they donated a percentage of daily receipts to the cause!
Sadly – we ‘mounted up’ for the final leg of the trip and headed back to the Legion Post in Norwich. After making sure we had a good account of all the riders and making sure everyone was safe…we moved inside and people began to draw cards for their Poker Hands. As the score-sheets were being reviewed – Riders Chapter Officers began drawing tickets for a mountain of door prizes. The number of donations this year was once again amazing and well over half of the attendees went home with at least a little something! The high hand was one by a gentleman with three sevens and the low hand trophy went to a rider with a ‘9-high nothing’. Our Chapter Secretary, Sophie Liberatore, awarded her traditional “Sophie’s Choice” award for her choice out of the awesome and beautiful motorcycles that were ridden in the event. Exciting 50/50 Raffles and gift raffles were given away, to some lucky participants. Chapter President and Ms. Grimord offered some final thoughts and “thank yous” to all who made this day great – and we announced that the total donation would be well over $4,000 for the day’s efforts! Awesome Ride and Awesome Day for an Awesome Cause – the Riders would like to thank Karen and the LHCP for the work they do and thank you all for allowing us to be, but a small part, of this worthwhile effort
Yankee Bill Fowler Sergeant at Arms American Legion Riders Post 189 NY
Through the combination of corporate donations and a charity casino night held at this year’s Executive Summit, $20,000 was raised for the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. This worthy organization provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured, or wounded from service in the Middle East.
On Saturday, May 25 2013, a little after 3:00pm, I was standing at the top of the stairs with 3 other individuals preparing to participate in the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project’s (LHCP) Arlington National Cemetery Wreath Laying ceremony. As I wait for the Honor Guard, I reflect on the day.
It started early with breakfast at IHOP with Brian and Karen Grimord. Brian and Karen then took my husband, Paul, and me over to see a few of the monuments in Washington, DC before we headed to Arlington National Cemetery. We visited the Lincoln Memorial, where we were reminded of many events in history, then we visited the Korea Memorial, which gives you the feeling you are walking with the soldiers as they emerge from a tree line. We then, went to the Air Force Memorial which reflects the missing man formation as three spires rise into the air. We also visited the World War II Memorial, where I wished my Dad, Pop and Uncle Larry could have seen this tribute to those from past wars. One young man came up to us and wanted to know from one of our group, “Can you tell us your story?”
From the WWII Memorial, we go to the Pentagon Memorial where Flight 77 flew into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. This memorial honors both those on Flight 77 and those in the Pentagon that were killed that day. We were there to pay respects to one of our LHCP Honorees, Daniel. Each shipment of comfort and care items is shipped in Honor of a military member who has given the ultimate sacrifice. We read Daniel’s biography, laid flowers by his bench (Daniel liked blue flowers) and said a prayer. His family is unable to visit, so we paid our respects. We then had time to walk through the Memorial area.
We then go to Arlington National Cemetery. We meet our group at Section 60, one of the larger areas in the cemetery. Section 60 has the largest number of resting places for our service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The night before, at Brian and Karen’s house, we prepared bouquets of flowers for each of our Honorees. At each gravesite, one person read the biography and we were introduced to this individual and a small part of their life. It became real, it became emotional. We took the time at each Honorees gravesite to become acquainted with them through their biography and prayed for their family and their loss. We saw many friends and family of the fallen in the cemetery, where they came to spend the day with their loved ones.
Around 2:45pm, we make our way to the Tomb of the Unkown. Standing with me at the top of the stairs is Marine Corporal David Chirinos, who represents all of our wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. Standing next to David is Army Sergeant Jeremy Strader, who represents the Combat Medics and all of the medical personnel who care for the wounded and injured at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center or Combat Hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan. Next to me is Ruwan Arseculeratne, who represents all of the sponsors who give so freely to support LHCP. Their steadfast support allows for many good things to be done for our injured and wounded. And me, I represent all of the volunteers who have a heart for service for our military. As I look out over the Tomb and see all of the grave markers, I am reminded of the vast treasure of talent, creativity and ingenuity that our country has lost. I am also reminded of words in a poem by Archibald MacLeish, “The Young Dead Soldiers”.
The Young Dead Soldiers do not speak Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses. (Who has not heard them?) They have a silence that speaks for them at night And when the clock counts, They say We were young, We have died, Remember us. They say We have done what we could But until it is finished, it is not done. They say We have given our lives But until it is finished, no one can know what our lives gave They say Our deaths are not ours They are yours They will mean what you make them. They say Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say It is you who must say this. They say We leave you our deaths Give them their meaning Give them an end to the war and a true peace Give them a victory that ends the war and peace afterwards Give them their meaning! We were young, they say We have died Remember Us.
The Honorees we remembered this year with the Wreath Laying Ceremony are a representation of the many who have given their lives for freedom. How will we give their lives meaning? How will we remember them?
For a little background, I work at the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) at Fort Benning, Georgia. MCoE is the home of the U.S. Army Infantry School and the U.S. Army Armor School (the Cavalry).
Recently the final six buildings were completed for the 194th Armor Brigade which for the last 5 years as been part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) bringing the Armor School to Fort Benning. As recently reported in The Bayonet, LTC Andrew Koloski (Squadron Commander) reported “Great care was taken in choosing the names that would forever be emblazoned on these buildings.”
SPC Hoby Bradfield is our LHCP August 2005 Honoree. I am so happy to report that one of those six buildings was dedicated to Hoby. Hoby’s family members attended the dedication ceremony. The following is an excerpt from The Bayonet on the Bradfield Barracks dedication.
Bradfield Barracks bear the name of Spc. Hoby Bradfield Jr. The Scout served with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq in 2005. During a dismounted patrol, his squad received heavy fire and a fellow Soldier was wounded. Bradfield crossed enemy fire to drag Sgt. Jeremy Wolfsteller to safety, saving his life.
“My brother is looking down right now with his spurs on and is gleaming with pride, I have no doubt about it”, said Jared Bradfield, a retired Marine, referencing the honor of the dedication ceremony.
“Hoby was a special kind of Soldier,” his brother said. “He came from a warrior class. When he deployed, he knew what he was doing. He knew that he may not come home, but his job while he was out there was to do the absolute best he could for each one of the men who were around him. I think it’s incredibly important to preserve that history. And I think that what we’re doing here.”
Hoby was 22 when he gave the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms. Hoohah!
For more info on the unit’s headquarters and barracks facilities dedication: The Bayonet
Army Spc. Micheal E. Phillips — April 2013 Shipment Honoree
Died February 24, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
Fort Campbell soldier killed in Iraq
The Associated Press
ARDMORE, Okla. — His knack for drawing and love of history could’ve landed Pfc. Micheal Phillips in college, but he had told his parents he wanted to be GI Joe when he grew up.
Phillips fulfilled his dream, but he lost his life.
The 19-year-old died Feb. 24 near Baghdad after the vehicle he was in was hit by an explosive device, his family said.
Phillips, a member of the 101st Airborne based in Fort Campbell, Ky., died in the attack, but the other men in the Humvee escaped with minor injuries, said his mother, Anglia Phillips, who was informed of his death Feb. 24.
“He was a hero,” Anglia Phillips said. “What I’ve heard from his squad is that he was an excellent soldier who was always trying to improve himself and was always willing to go the extra mile. He’s more of a man than most will be.”
The military confirmed his death Feb. 26.
Micheal Phillips had written to his family and former teachers at Ardmore High School while serving in Iraq. When he was home on leave, Phillips visited his 18-year-old brother and other students at school.
“He had an infectious smile,” said Jake Falvey, assistant principal at Ardmore High School. “He was an outgoing kid, and you could see the maturity in him; he had grown up quite a bit.”
Micheal Phillips was an astute student who loved history and ran track and cross country. He excelled at drawing and had been offered admission to the San Francisco Art Institute, his mother said.
But serving his country meant more than going to college, she said.
“He came home one day and said he wanted to join the Army, and we got in the car and went down to the recruiting station,” Anglia Phillips said. “He said terrorism was like a virus. It had to be stopped. It had to be contained.”
She said her son was re-enlisting to join for two more years.
“He didn’t want to leave his squad, his guys,” she said.
ARDMORE — A young soldier from Ardmore who was killed Sunday in Iraq was remembered Tuesday for his endearing smile and the courage to stand up for the country.
Army Spc. Micheal Phillips, 19, was killed when his Humvee struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Funeral arrangements are pending at the Griffin Funeral Home in Ardmore.
The Department of Defense on Tuesday night officially announced Phillips’ death.
Phillips joined the Army after graduating from Ardmore High School in 2006. He was a popular student at school, where he also ran cross-country and played football.
Phillips would often visit his old classmates and teachers while he was on leave from the Army, so the news of his death came as a blow at the high school.
Counselors were being made available to students so they could deal with their grief.
For Jake Falvey, assistant principal at the high school, word of Phillips’ death came as a shock.
Falvey, who was Phillips’ sophomore English teacher, said he and Phillips had kept closely in touch ever since the young man graduated and went on to the Army.
“He was one of those kids you never doubted would succeed,” Falvey said.
“He had a great smile, and he was proud of the fact that he joined the U.S. Army. That’s what he wanted to do,” Falvey said.
About six months ago, the assistant principal said, he received a letter from Phillips, expressing his pride in the Army and the country.
“I’m doing this for my family, for you, for everyone, for America, to protect it from the bad guys,” said Falvey, quoting Phillips’ letter.
Phillips was planning to re-enlist in the Army, according to Falvey.
“The Army had made a man of him. You could see that,” Falvey said, recalling the last time Phillips had visited the school on leave.
Falvey called Phillips’ death a “real American tragedy.”
“He leaves behind a wonderful family; good hard-working folks,” he said.
Falvey said Phillips has a younger brother at the high school — David, a senior, who is an all-state runner.
Phillips also has another brother, Anthony, 9, and a sister Barbara, 14, Falvey said.
Falvey called Phillips’ parents, Angelia and Steve Phillips, a hard-working couple “whose whole world changed” when they received news of their son’s death.
Specialist Micheal E. Phillips Post Office
By: Tom Cole Date: May 2, 2011 Location: Washington, DC
Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 1423, a bill I sponsored, to designate the post office in Ardmore, Oklahoma, as the Specialist Micheal E. Phillips Post Office.
Micheal was driven by a personal sense of duty and honor. He joined the Army because he recognized injustice and terror in our world and sought to make a difference. Specialist Micheal Phillips lived out that sense of duty through military service and made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our Nation remained secure and free.
Mr. Speaker, Micheal turned down an opportunity to attend the San Francisco Art Institute to volunteer for the United States Army. When asked why he wanted to join the Army, Micheal simply stated, “I want a career and we are at war.” Specialist Phillips saw terrorists as thugs, often referring to them as the “ultimate bullies in the world.” A fervent student of history, Micheal knew that his service would be against a tough and formidable enemy, still he enthusiastically embraced what he believed was the right decision and enlisted in the United States Army.
Mr. Speaker, Micheal Phillips was only 17 years of age when he joined the military via the delayed entry program. He left for boot camp on June 24, 2006. Upon finishing advanced infantry training, Micheal was assigned to Bravo Company 1 of the 502nd Strike Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, one of the most storied divisions in the United States Army. On October 13, 2007, Micheal and his brothers in arms were deployed to Iraq for combat operations.
Micheal’s enthusiasm for his work inspired members of his platoon. In addition to his enthusiasm, Specialist Phillips also endeavored to foster real camaraderie amongst his fellow soldiers. Even in the middle of a war, it was said that Micheal made bad times good and good times better. Micheal’s team leader, Sergeant Matthew Whalen praised his abilities in terrain association, map reading, and his tremendous bravery in combat. Sergeant Whalen reflected on Specialist Phillips’ leadership skills, noting, “I know that soldiers that did serve with him have taken away with them, as I have, the undoubted and unmistaken values that he always possessed and always portrayed.”
Mr. Speaker, Specialist Micheal E. Phillips was killed in action on February 24, 2008, in Shula, Iraq, just outside of Baghdad. An explosively formed penetrator, a so-called EFP, hit the driver’s side of the door on the vehicle that he was driving. Despite the severity of his injuries, he continued to smile and reassure those taking care of him. Even in the most grim and serious times, Micheal still fought and lifted up those around him.
For his service, Specialist Micheal Phillips was awarded a Bronze Star. He was also designated as a Distinguished Member of the 502nd Infantry Regiment. The Distinguished Member award is for those who display honorable service, loyalty on active duty in peace or war. These are qualities Micheal Phillips lived with each and every day of his service career.
Mr. Speaker, Micheal always gave more than his share back to his community. When he did have time away from his duty, he would often visit his high school to speak with students and encourage them to pursue their goals.
Never without a smile, had Micheal fought for his country, have his community and his family with valor and with honored. He wanted others in the world to have the freedoms and opportunities that we enjoy here in the United States, and he risked his life to achieve that end.
Like many who have made the ultimate sacrifice, Specialist Micheal Phillips leaves behind loved ones, friends, and comrades in arms who treasure his memory and honor his service. Micheal is survived by his parents, Steven and Angelia Phillips; his brothers, David and Anthony; and his sister, Barbara–all of Ardmore, Oklahoma. He also leaves behind a Nation and a community that will never forget his courage, his sacrifice, and his devotion to duty.
Mr. Speaker, I urge the passage of this legislation.
Spc. Tyanna S. Avery-Felder — March 2013 Shipment Honoree
Died October 21, 2004 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
Unit: 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Unit’s Base: Fort Lewis, Wash
First Connecticut woman killed in Iraq is laid to rest
When Spc. Tyanna S. Avery-Felder joined the Army, she created a new family for herself in the military. “She was a daughter to me,” said Sgt. Thomas Smith Jr., who was stationed with Avery-Felder at Fort Lewis, Wash. She even called me dad.” Avery-Felder, 22, of Bridgeport, Conn., died April 7 of injuries sustained on April 4 when her vehicle was hit with an explosive. In high school, Avery-Felder played basketball and sang in the choir. She later took classes at Southern Connecticut State University toward a career in early childhood education, but left school after completing her freshman year. She joined the Army soon afterward, in 2000. Friends remembered Avery-Felder as a strong, caring woman. “She told me, ‘Never, even let them see you cry or they’ll walk all over you,'” said Odessa Blackwell, a high school friend. “She was so tough.” Survivors also include her parents and her husband.
Courtesy of Connecticut Post
We were going to eat the whole time she was here,” said Ilene “Patricia” Avery, her mother, describing the expected celebration. “Everyone was going to bring their favorite dish and we were all going to eat.”
Avery said her daughter had especially missed her aunt’s special dish, macaroni and cheese. “There’s no place like home,” she said, holding back tears.
Avery-Felder, a cook in the Army’s Stryker Brigade, died last week from injuries sustained when a military truck hit a homemade bomb device in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
She was the first member of the armed services from Bridgeport to die in Iraq and the first woman from Connecticut to perish in the conflict.
Family members and friends called her a tough, determined and enthusiastic person, who also was kind-hearted and funny. She came from a large family.
The 22-year-old East End native will be remembered Thursday with a funeral at Mount Aery Baptist Church. She will be buried at Bridgeport’s Lakeview Cemetery.
“She’s coming home,” Ilene Avery said at a family press conference organized by the military last week, explaining her daughter would be buried in the city where she was born and raised.
The fallen soldier’s husband, Army Spc. Adrian Felder, also attended the press conference. He said his wife had a great sense of humor and was fun to be around.
“I’m so sad it happened,” the South Carolina native said. “She’s in a better place.”
The two had met in the military while stationed together at Fort Lewis in Washington State. A mutual friend told Felder about an “attractive” cook on the base.
He asked her out on a date and she accepted, and they went to see a movie together. “From there our relationship grew,” Felder said.
They were married in December 2002 in Washington, and she was sent to Iraq last November. Despite being separated by thousands of miles, they stayed in frequent contact by writing and phoning as often as possible.
Avery-Felder also frequently sent e-mails to her family in Bridgeport and would call them from Iraq as well. “We were always going to be proud of her,” Avery said of her daughter. “We’re all proud of her.”
Airman 1st Class Jesse Samek — February 2013 Shipment Honoree
Died October 21, 2004 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
Arkansas airman dies in Afghanistan helicopter crash
Associated Press Military Times (no longer available)
ROGERS, Ark. — An airman from Rogers who worked on a rescue helicopter died in Afghanistan when his aircraft went down, the Air Force said Friday.
Airman 1st Class Jesse Monroe Samek, 21, died Thursday, a day after his helicopter crashed during a medical evacuation, Capt. Maureen Schumann said.
A statement issued by Samek’s family in Rogers said he’d moved to northwest Arkansas in 1997 from O’Fallon, Mo., near St. Louis. He graduated from Rogers High School in 2001 and attended the University of Arkansas for a year before deciding to join the Air Force.
“He was a great outdoorsman,” the family statement said. “He loved camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and snow- and waterskiing. He played recreational hockey as a goalie.”
Military officials said technical problems brought down the HH-60 helicopter, which was carrying a wounded Afghan election worker. The crash occurred in the Herat province, 105 miles east of Shindand.
Two other airmen were injured in the crash, one critically, military officials said.
Samek’s family said the airman worked for months in a training program, and became a member of an elite group that qualified for the rescue duty as a flight engineer on a HH-60 Para Rescue helicopter.
“He loved that his job was to do rescues and saving people in this war-torn world,” the family statement said.
A presidential election worker had been accidentally shot by a guard earlier in the day, and Samek’s helicopter was transporting the man for medical treatment.
Samek was assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., just outside Las Vegas. He joined the Air Force in February 2003.
He is survived by parents Gavin and Julie Samek of Rogers, Ark.; brother Benjamin Samek of Rogers, Ark.; and grandparents David and Jenny Burkemper of St. Louis, Mo.
Airman killed in Afghanistan chopper crash buried
Associated Press Military Times (no longer available)
BELLA VISTA, Ark. — The cracking boom of seven rifles fired in unison pierced the air at Airman 1st Class Jesse Samek’s burial on Wednesday.
Onlookers who winced instinctively stood their ground as the second and third rounds echoed over the hills surrounding the Bella Vista Memorial Cemetery.
A few moments later, the high-pitched strains of “Taps” lingered in the air, only to be blown away by the whirring blades of an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter that flew over Samek’s casket.
Samek, 21, a member of the 66th Rescue Squadron, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev ., was killed Oct. 20 when the helicopter carrying him on a rescue mission crashed in Afghanistan. Samek and his family moved to Arkansas in 1997 from O’Fallon, Mo.
A friend, David Dezarov, returned to Arkansas aboard the aircraft that carried Samek’s body.
“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was spend the last four days with him and not saying a word,” Dezarov said.
Dezarov, a scout with the 1st Armored Division based in Germany, recalled a gesture by the pilot of the plane carrying Samek’s body on a flight from Atlanta to Tulsa. He circled Rogers for 10 minutes as a tribute to the young man who had graduated from high school there in 2001, Dezarov said.
“He was a great outdoorsman,” the family statement said. “He loved camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and snow- and waterskiing. He played recreational hockey as a goalie.”
Blake Johnston, another friend, also recalled times with Samek. He recounted a trip with his buddy to Cancun, Mexico, canoe trips down the Elk River a few miles north in McDonald County, Mo. — and the bond that allowed the two friends to communicate without saying a word.
“His life was full of happiness and laughter,” Johnston said. “I never would have believed I’d be standing up here doing this.”
Instead, he said, he had imagined a future of good times with Samek.
“There would have been beer bellies — big ones,” Johnston said. “I’d like to think we’ll be together again someday, with our beer bellies.”
Corrine Hagedorn, a cousin of the fallen airman, read to the mourners a message from Samek’s mother, Julie.
“(There were) moments in the last few days that I felt I had to force myself to keep on breathing,” she wrote.
She thanked those who offered their words of sympathy, but acknowledged there was no word or deed that could soften the blow.
“Our hearts will never be whole again,” she wrote.
He is survived by parents Gavin and Julie Samek of Rogers, Ark.; brother Benjamin Samek of Rogers, Ark.; and grandparents David and Jenny Burkemper of St. Louis, Mo.
She wrote that her son was a hero for who he was, not what he did.
Army Staff Sgt. Lillian Clamens — January 2013 Shipment Honoree
Died October 10, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
Soldier from Florida unit killed in insurgent attack in Iraq
The Associated Press
OMAHA, Neb. — A soldier from a unit in Florida was killed in Iraq, just says before she was due to come home, her family and the military said Oct. 12.
Army Staff Sgt. Lillian Clamens was one of two people who died Oct. 10, according to the Department of Defense.
Insurgents fired rockets on Camp Victory in Baghdad from a nearby abandoned school, killing Clamens and Army Spc. Samuel F. Pearson, 28, Westerville, Ohio.
Clamens was assigned to the 1st Postal Platoon, 834th Adjutant General Company, Miami.
Family members in Omaha, Neb., say Lillian Clamens was due to return to Homestead, Fla., next week.
“She was the type of person that was honest,” her niece Sierra Cobbin, of Omaha, told KETV. “She never had a bad bone in her body. She did everything for her family. She was confident, strong and just a very down-to-earth person.”
Clamens, who served in the Army Reserve for 17 years, was a full-time postal worker, and served as an administrative clerk for the unit. She was married with three children.
“She died doing what she wanted to do,” said her sister Dana Cobbin, of Omaha. “I don’t have a sister no more. I miss my baby. I’m going to miss her. I just wanted to see her one last time. She was supposed to come home.”
Military Times (no longer available)
MIAMI, Fla. –A local Army Reserve Soldier from Miami was killed in action while serving in Iraq. Staff Sergeant Lillian Clamens, 35, was with assigned 1st Postal Platoon, 834th Adjutant General Company in Miami, Fla.
CLAMENS, LILLIAN L., 35, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army Reserve, Military Personnel Clerk for United States Southern Command, wife and mother of three, died in a mortar attack on Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday, October 10, 2007. She was assigned to the 1st Postal Platoon, 834th Adjutant General Company in Miami.
Lillian was born May 9, 1972, in the city of Omaha, Nebraska, to Dorothy Cobbin and Solom Bogard. She graduated from Central High School in 1990. Lillian served in the U.S. Army (Adjutant General Corps) as an Administrative Specialist from 1990 until 2007. She was stationed in Korea; Ft. Leonard Wood, MO; Vilseck, Germany; Ft. Sill, OK; and participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. She attained the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSG). On August 14, 1997, she was united in marriage to Raymond J. Clamens in Omaha, NE.
Lillian was affectionately known as “Lilly” and with her endearing personality, radiant smile and caring demeanor warmed the hearts of everyone that came in contact with her. At home she was a devoted wife, fantastic mother, and the center of the family. She loved taking care of soldiers and their families and touched so many people no matter where she was in the world.
Lillian is survived by her husband Raymond, her daughters Lana 8, Victoria 7,and her son Ayinde 14; her sister Dana; her mother Dorothy; and her mother-in-law Gemma. She is further survived by aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends. Funeral services for Lillian L. Clamens will be held at 11:00 a.m., Friday, October 19, at St. Brendan’s Church, 8725 SW 32nd St. Miami, FL 33165. The Burial will be in Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery, 11411 NW 25th St. Doral, FL 33172.
Relatives and friends are welcome for visitation at the Van Orsdel Funeral Home, 9300 SW 40th St. (Bird Rd.) Miami, FL 33165 on Thursday October 18, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. We would like to thank all of the staff of the FIU Army ROTC, USSOUTHCOM, and the 834th AG Postal Company for their help and support. VAN ORSDEL – BIRD RD CHAPEL 9300 SW 40 St. (305)553-0064 Family Owned Since 1924 to visit this Guest Book Online, go to www.MiamiHerald.com/obituaries..
To understand why Karen Grimord is so passionate about helping wounded soldiers overseas, just shake her family tree. Karen is a proud military brat who was born in a military hospital and grew up within the tight-knit, supportive community of military families. Both Karen’s father and husband retired from the U.S. Air Force after 22 years. At one point, five family members were serving in the Middle East at the same time, including her son and son-in-law. Karen herself worked as a military contractor for years, first for Lockheed Martin and later, for Raytheon.
Frequent moves and fast-forming friendships are hallmarks of the military lifestyle. So is a deeply rooted sense of mission and loyalty to country and the men and women who serve. That mission may be what drives Karen, 51, to commit extraordinary acts of charity through her nonprofit organization, Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.
Since 2004, the organization has shipped more than 200,000 pounds of donated clothing and supplies, often at Karen’s own expense, to wounded and ailing soldiers in the Middle East. The bulk of donated items are mailed to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American military hospital outside of the U.S. Karen also sends supplies to medics, nurses, and chaplains at more than 150 military units throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Middle East countries with U.S. military operations. “If we can help just one military member with a gift, then I hope they feel the respect, gratitude, and the love we have for them. That’s what keeps pushing me on—knowing that it makes their future a little bit easier,” Karen says.
Her labor of love can be back-breaking at times. Working out of her home in Stafford, Virginia, she fills boxes with an assortment of requested items. A typical shipment might include sweatpants, Crocs, socks, towels, pillows, or blankets. Four or five days a week, she drives to the post office in her white Chevy Suburban, which she reluctantly purchased a few years back when the charity grew too large for her beloved Jeep to handle.
Sometimes, Karen is lucky enough to find volunteers to help. But often, it’s just Karen and her packing tape filling up boxes and taping them shut for their distant journey. Halfway through 2012, Karen had already shipped 946 boxes, a number on pace to beat last year’s tally of 1,713 boxes. In fact, supply and demand have grown rapidly since the charity’s first year when it sent its first 33 boxes of supplies. Karen expects demand will increase as other nonprofits close their doors or shift their focus to helping returning soldiers.
The organization grew out of a simple request from Karen’s daughter who was living in Germany, where her husband was stationed. Would she collect DVD and videotape movies and send them to wounded soldiers at nearby Landstuhl hospital?
Karen appealed to her circle of family and friends, collecting 485 movies. Grateful for her enthusiasm, the chaplain at Landstuhl asked Karen to collect sweatpants. Again, she turned to family and friends who donated 108 pairs. To her dismay, she learned the number was a “drop in the bucket” to meet the hospital’s needs. At the time, as many as 1,000 soldiers were arriving at the hospital every month, and their first stop was the Chaplain’s Closet, a place where soldiers received donated clothing and supplies to replace their tattered and bloody clothing.
Karen reached out to veterans groups such as the American Legion and soon, donations came pouring in. But the more supplies she mailed to Landstuhl, the greater the requests for donations. In just a year, word-of-mouth spread among military medics and medical staff in the Middle East about the woman in Stafford, Virginia, who almost never said “no” to a request for supplies.
“There was never a plan for me to start a nonprofit,” Karen says. “What started as one or two boxes turned into thousands.”
Karen knew she needed help with the legal and financial realities of running a charitable organization. Today, a small but loyal group of volunteers—many with strong military ties—handle accounting, communications, and other vital support services.
In addition to running her nonprofit, Karen also spends a month at Landstuhl hospital every year as a volunteer, handing out clothing and supplies from the Chaplain’s Closet.
It was at the hospital that she met Marine Lance Corporal Justin Reynolds. In 2006, the young Marine was recovering from shrapnel wounds and other injuries suffered when his Humvee hit an Improvised Explosive Device in Iraq.
From the start, the wounded soldier from Ohio clicked with Karen and gave her the nickname “Mom Two.” One day, Karen got a call from Ann Reynolds, Justin’s mother. The soldier had returned home to recuperate but suffered a stroke resulting in partial paralysis. Karen hopped in her car and drove to the hospital in North Carolina where Justin was fighting for his life. There, the two “moms” met face-to-face for the first time.
Nearly two years later, a second setback robbed Justin of his speech and motor coordination. Again Karen dropped everything to visit the Marine and his family, now in nearby Richmond, Virginia. “Karen has been such a great friend,” says Ann Reynolds. “If I need something, I call Karen. She knows how to get it.”
Karen’s devotion to Justin and his family is a clear example of why she works so tirelessly for wounded military members. Karen, her friends and family members say, is the kind of person who simply refuses to back down. Karen believes Justin one day will regain his speech and motor skills. Until that day, she will support him, just as she supports her charity—until every military member comes home.
(CBS News) STAFFORD, Va. – With the 4th of July coming next week, we tell the story this week of an American who loves her country as much as anyone we know. For her, it’s not about wearing her patriotism on her sleeves — it’s about rolling them up, as we learned, “On the Road.”
If you’re a soldier arriving at Landstuhl Hospital in Germany, chances are you didn’t have time to pack. Which is why, once they’re on the mend, a lot of these wounded warriors need Karen Grimord’s packages.
They fill up a kind of commissary where everything is free — shelves of clothing, blankets, and everyday necessities. They can pick up everything they need to make their stay more comfortable.
“It makes a tremendous difference for their morale,” said Col. Luke Pittman.
Pittman told us the shelves of goods all come from donors — much of it, believe it or not, from a single donor in Virginia — a lone grandma in a two-car garage.
It’s full of boxes, both packed and folded up.
“I need lots of boxes,” says Karen Grimord. That much is obvious.
Every day, tape gun blazing, Grimord does her part for the war on terror. She sent her first box eight years ago after seeing a public service announcement and has been steadily ramping-up her operation ever since — both in quantity and quality.
“I figure if I don’t want to use it here, they’re not going to want to use it there,” she said, packing a box with brand new terry-cloth towels.
By comparison, military issue is sandpaper. Which is why, although it started with Landstuhl, Karen now gets requests from more than 150 combat hospitals, doctors and medics.
She can’t say no.
And “we shouldn’t say no,” she says. “I am going to try, with every bone in my body — if it’s on that wish list — I’m going to try to get it for them.”
To that end, she has now sent more than 7,300 care packages. She spends $40,000 on postage alone. And although she does have some financial supporters, they don’t cover all the costs by any means.
To learn more about the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, or to donate to Karen Grimord’s efforts, visit the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project website
She isn’t a wealthy person. “Not even close,” she says. And she puts her own money into the care package project — most of her savings. She just can’t stop.
A lot of people say they support the troops — but their commitment goes no further than their bumper sticker. Karen, on the other hand, is all-in. And will be as long as there are injured Americans in need of a little — anything.
“You just have to remember their faces and who they are — and you pack another box,” Grimord said.
Dear Karen, Just a quick note to thank you for letting us be a part of this special humanitarian service effort you are embarked upon.
Your presentation at last Saturdays women’s conference was beautifully rendered and opened the hearts and understanding of many.
I would like to stay in touch and if there is anything I can do to help you, just let me know.
Warm Regards, Sandi Sears
Faith in Christ Leads to Pillows of Love for Wounded Troops
News Release By Jeff Schrade, Director of Public Affairs Fredericksburg Virginia Stake Cell: (202)870-3277
Fredericksburg, VA – Over 200 local women came together on Saturday to sew pillowcases and stuff over 1,000 pillows, and then box them for shipment to wounded service members in Afghanistan, Iraq and Germany. The women, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were working in conjunction the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.
“The pillows are really a personal message to the troops that says, ‘I am here, depend on me for anything and not just now, but for as long as you need me.’ It is a soft whisper of encouragement,” said Karen Grimord, a Stafford resident who founded the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project in 2004. “It is amazing to see the expressions on our wounded warriors faces when they realize the pillows, toiletries and clothing are free. The only thing that comes close is a three-year old on Christmas morning.”
The Landstuhl hospital, located in Germany, treats the majority of serious casualties from the Iraq and Afghanistan, and is the largest American hospital outside of the United States.
“We are here today to provide this service because of the love of Christ – love beyond measure. Our faith in him leads us to help others,” said LaRene Olbeter, as she stood in a bright yellow “Mormon Helping Hands” t-shirt. Olbeter is president of the church’s Relief Society program in the Fredericksburg area.
Saturday’s effort touched Jennie Pugmire of Fredericksburg, a church member who volunteered to help.
“In 2002 my husband Jeff was the sole survivor of a booby-trapped ammo dump in Afghanistan. Four of his buddies were killed that day. My husband lost his sight in one
eye, lost his hearing in one ear, dislocated his shoulders, and his body is still filled with shrapnel that sometimes still comes to the surface of his skin. When I heard today about men leaving the battlefield with nothing more than what they have on, it just hit me hard and I had to cry. It’s been wonderful to give something back to those who have given so much,” Pugmire said.
The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project was found in 2004 after Grimord visited her daughter and son-in-law in Germany. While there she spent time at the Army’s hospital and discovered a need for videos and DVD’s.
“Every month Landstuhl handles about 37,000 out-patient visits, 500 operations and 100 births for American military members and their families,” said Grimord, a former military contractor who saw action in Bosnia. “We started with shipments of videos and DVD’s. After sending that first shipment of 485 movies, I asked the Chaplin’s office what more was needed, and he suggested our troops could use some sweat pants and shirts. What was to be one shipment turned into another and another.”
It is now a nationwide effort that earned the “seal of excellence” from the Independent Charities of America (ICA). Of the more than one million charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000, or 5 percent, meet or exceed the ICA’s standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000 have been awarded its seal of approval.
“Last week we spent over a $1,000 a day in shipping out a variety of material. Those costs were picked up by BAE Systems and they will be paying for the shipments from today’s effort. We cannot thank them, or these local Mormon women, enough,” Grimord said. “Of course, we are always looking for help from others.”
The pillow project is the third major humanitarian project that Olbetter has undertaken since being asked last year to lead the local LDS Church’s multi-county Relief Society program.
“Last year we began by sewing 20 quilts for children in need. We followed that by providing over 100 ‘comfort kits’ for traumatized child abuse victims who are tenderly interviewed and examined at the wonderful, but sadly needed, Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center in Fredericksburg,” Olbetter said.
The Relief Society is a philanthropic and educational women’s organization and an official auxiliary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), unofficial known as the Mormon Church. The Relief Society was founded in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois, and today has approximately 6 million members in over 170 countries and territories.
“Jesus Christ instructed all of us to love one another. The Relief Society program helps the women of our church put that instruction into action. We plan on a doing a lot more of that here in the coming years,” said Mike Kitchens, who serves as presiding officer of the LDS Church’s Fredericksburg Virginia Stake. The Fredericksburg Stake, which is similar to a diocese, has 4,600 members.
The War at Home – Parents of OH Marine beg folks to remember injured
By Jerry Anderson WTOL 11
(WTOL) – As the U.S. continues fighting wars on two fronts, many folks do not always think about the men and women fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But an Ohio couple, whose son was injured in Iraq, wants to make sure folks remember.
From the time Justin Reynolds was a young boy, he knew what he wanted to do when he grew up – and his family knew he would wear a military uniform someday.
In fact, he loved playing with GI Joes and reading books about war.
Ann Reynolds, Justin’s mother, remembers when a librarian said her son’s school would need more military books because Justin had read them all.
Reynolds’ grew into a big young man. In fact, after deciding to join the Marines he was told he had to lose 100 pounds before they would accept him – and he did.
“I was proud, very proud,” said Ann Reynolds. “I’ve always been proud of him, but that was a proud moment for his father and I.”
When Reynolds was shipped to fight in Anbar province, Iraq, in late 2004, the fighting was intense.
When a second tour followed, Marine Lance Corporal Reynolds was driving a Humvee when it was hit by an improvised explosive device or IED.
Ann Reynolds says when her son called, he told her he had been in a car accident. “I said ‘a car accident?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I hit an IED.’ And I said, ‘that’s a car accident alright.'” Reynolds also told her mother he was sure his leg was destroyed.
However, his leg was still intact, but he did have a broken ankle, dislocated toe and knee ripped open by shrapnel.
While Reynolds was recuperating in North Carolina, doctors told his family a virus had attacked his brain.
After a harsh course of antibiotics and steroids, the virus finally disappeared. However, after a year and a-half, Reynolds relapsed and the virus waged war on the young Marine’s brain.
Ann Reynolds said her son’s doctors called and said the virus had come back — her son was dying.
Instead, the virus robbed Reynolds of his speech and motor skills. Now he responds with a smile and laugh. And, for example, the blink of an eye means yes.
His parents – and others know that he hears and feels.
Reynolds’ mother says the last words she heard him speak were to apologize. “‘I’m sorry Mom, I’m so sorry.’ And I said ‘Justin, you don’t have to be sorry for anything.'”
U.S. Marine Justin Reynolds fought bravely for his country, earning the Purple Heart.
Doctors are still uncertain about where the mystery virus came from, even after MRIs, spinal taps and cat scans.
But, Ann and Robert Reynolds believe the virus came from chemicals in the improvised explosive device.
It took a while, but Reynolds’ parents finally learned how to navigate their way through the V. A. or Veterans Administration. However, that was only after Reynolds paid for a year of his own acute care in a nursing home.
Now, Reynolds says she thinks the government officials understand she and her husband do not give up.
However, Reynolds admits on some days she feels like she cannot go on, but says when she thinks of her son, the Marine – that keeps her going. After all, she says, he never gives up and neither will she.
In the past year and a-half, Robert Reynolds has had three heart attacks and battled lung cancer.
“Sometimes you sit and think about yourself and then you think about Justin,” said Robert Reynolds. “…what I have is nothing. Justin inspires me to live.”
The Reynolds’ wanted their son’s story told because they never want folks to forget about those who serve their country.
“You just don’t realize what these men and women do, how much they go through, how much they do sacrifice,” said Ann Reynolds.
The Marines motto, “Semper Fi,” meaning always faithful, was — and certainly is true of Marine Lance Corporal Retired Justin Reynolds.
To send Justin Reynolds a card or a note:
Justin Reynolds c/o The Ridge at Shawnee 2535 Ft. Amanda Rd. Lima, OH 45804
Military-related charities are feeling the pinch of the economic recession as donors cut back on their giving.
“We’re hurting. We’ve never had to ask for money before, and now we’re out there asking.” said Karen Guenther, co-founder and executive director of Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
Even as the number of injured troops seeking help has been on the rise, Guenther said her group has seen a drop in donations of about 34 percent this year compared with the first eight months of 2008.
That’s had an impact on assistance. Although the fund is giving more grants, the average amount of the grants has decreased, and the organization also has had to dip into its reserve funds, Guenther said.
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund helps injured Marines and sailors and their families, as well as soldiers and other service members injured in direct support of Marines.
The Fisher House Foundation has seen a 30 percent drop in donations this year, said David Coker, foundation president.
Donations to the Military, Veterans & Patriotic Service Organizations of America group of charities within the Combined Federal Campaign declined in 2008 compared with the year before, even though overall CFC donation were up:
Fall 2008 $276 million– Fall 2007 $273 million Percent of change +1%
Fall 2008 $12.4 million Fall 2007 $12.9 Percent of change-3.9%
Guenther and other charity officials are pinning their hopes more than ever on the annual Combined Federal Campaign, which is just getting under way.
“When we joined CFC, we knew it would be a good way to sustain us in our lean years,” Guenther said. “That’s what we’re seeing now, so I’m hoping our CFC donations go up this year.”
But the outlook is uncertain. IMSFF and Fischer House are part of a military-related CFC federation of 69 charities called the Military, Veterans & Patriotic Service Organization of America).
CFC campaign donations to MVPSOA charities in 2008 decreased from 2007 by about 3.9 percent–even though overall donations to CFC increased by 1 percent.
Patrick Maguire, business manager for MVPSOA, called last year “a minor hiccup,” noting that since 2005, CFC donations to military-related charities have increased by 36 percent.
Still, he said he’s predicting a “flat” year for the 2009 campaign.
One reason military-related charities are feeling a pinch is that funding from the California Community Foundation is ending. Over the past three years, that foundation has funneled nearly $250 million to charities that help troops and families.
“Everyone had a tremendous plus-up and could increase services” through that initiative, said Coker of the Fisher House Foundation.
CFC donations play a big role in Fisher House’s ability to help troops and their families, Coker said. Among other things, those donation pay for families to stay free at Fisher House comfort homes near military treatment facilities. In 2008, the foundation received donations of $40 million, with about $2.6 million coming from the CFC.
The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, a charity with a much smaller budget, has seen an increase in cash donation of about $3,000 or 4 percent, through July 31, compared with the first seven months of 2008.
“But if we didn’t have the [CFC] we would actually be down in donations,” said Karen Grimord, president and founder of the organization. “I’ve received three e-mails from donors in the last two months saying they could no longer support LHCP because they were losing their jobs.”
The foundation, working with 72 contacts in military and VA medical facilities, sends items, including blood warmers, special disposable wash cloths, thermal blankets, DVD players, and clothing ranging from disposable surgical underwear to socks, sweats and winter coats.
This will be LHCP’s first year in the MVPSOA federation, and Grimord said she hopes greater visibility will boost donations.
Some charities are close to the brink. “In the last three weeks, three military-related charities have told us they can no longer help clients – they have no money,” said USA Cares president Bill Nelson.
Many military-related charities work together, referring troops and families to sister charities that focus on a particular need, he noted. “Those of us who survive have to do more,” he said.
USA Cares focuses on emergency financial needs, including housing. The group has seen a drop of about 2 percent in donations this year, Nelson said.
Year-to-date donations for some military-related charities compared with same period last year:
Fisher House Foundation Percent of change -30% Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund Percent of change -34% USA Cares Percent of change -.2% Landstuhl Hospital Care Project Percent of change +4%