We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France

One Truly Special 13 year-old
1 August 2012, 13:18
Filed under: 82nd, Homefront | Tags: , ,

Recent college grad Andy Marchese takes some marvelous photos and blogs about his photo shoots, including a very good ad campaign he did as a college project. Recently, Tyler Kautzman, who had sent care packages to soldiers overseas with the 82nd Airborne Division, contacted him to take some photos at a 5K run he was sponsoring. One of those soldiers befriended Tyler and they stayed friends over the years.

If you want “the rest of the story”, read Andy’s blog entry about One Truly Special 13 year-old. It will move you.

Denzel Washington at the Fisher House

I’d seen on Facebook a great photo of Denzel Washington down in San Antonio with several soldiers. There was an urban legend attached to it, but what Denzel did for the Fisher House was almost as good as the legend.

Our friend Kate managed the Fisher House here at Walter Reed when we met her and her husband, Russ, so we got to see what they’re like. The Fisher House provides a “home away from home” for military families while a loved one is hospitalized for illness, disease or injury. Sometimes, soldiers in rehabilitation have their families stay for months, which they would never be able to do otherwise. One of the great things for Kate and Russ was that many famous people would come by for events or just to thank the soldiers for their service. This meant that Kate and Russ got to meet a lot of those folks – Kate even appeared in an episode of Kathy Griffin’s “My Life on the D-List”.

In the urban legend, after visiting the Fisher House in San Antonio, Denzel Washington asks, “How much does it cost to build one of these?” Given the number, Denzel pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check for that amount. Great story, but a bit of an exaggeration. Just like me (perhaps the only similarity between Denzel Washington and myself), he doesn’t carry a checkbook around with him. However, his reputation for generosity is well-earned and he did, in fact, send a substantial check to help sponsor the Fisher House. Cary Clack of the San Antonio Express explained of the six-figure check, “It wasn’t enough to build one facility, but went a long way toward helping to build one.”

If you’ve been looking for a way to show veterans you care, 96% of donations go directly to helping veterans. Donate.

Ten miles in their shoes

This past weekend, my lovely wife, Melissa, ran in the Army Ten-Miler. She did it in honor of her father, COL Richard Henderson, and carried his St Christopher medal and dogtag, both of which he carried through his two tours in Viet Nam. Over the last mile, when her muscles were betraying her and the end of the race seemed so far, she gripped his icons in her hand and toughed it out, just as her father would have. Ten miles in his shoes.

We went to a restuarant in Arlington for lunch with her mother and couldn’t help but notice several runners come in together all wearing the same distinctive t-shirt. On the back, it had the silhouette of a soldier carrying his rifle, with Sgt Andrew C Nicol’s name.

Photo of Sgt Nicol's funeral, a wooden casket carried by Ranger pallbearersI was curious and had my smartphone with me. So, I quickly searched and found him listed on the Military Times Hall of Valor. Sgt Nichol had been killed by an IED in Afghanistan during his fifth combat deployment. He’d graduated from Exeter High School in 2006, joined the Army and quickly found his niche in the Rangers. In five short years, he deployed five times.

He was a wrestler in high school and the kind that never gives up. His coach related a story of a semi-final match that Nicol was losing badly on points that he won by pinning his opponent in the final seconds. He could also kid around with his friends and teammates, known for his crooked smile and his imitation of Seinfield’s Kramer. Like all Ranger sergeants, he was a leader, tasked with leading a team of up to 40 men when he died. He was awarded his second Bronze Star posthumously.

After we finished our meal, I stopped by to chat with the group. His father, Roland, and his sister both talked about running for him and pointed out that another in their group had a brother who’d been killed overseas as well. I’m an emotional guy, so mostly what I was able to choke out was that I was sorry for their loss and grateful for his service. Melissa and her mother also spoke about Dick’s service and Melissa’s run.

The A Team ranked 24th in the “All Comers” team category, running ten miles in Sgt Nicol’s shoes.

Weekend Wanderings Conference Championship Weekend 2011
23 January 2011, 11:30
Filed under: Homefront, Veterans, Weekend Wanderings, WWII | Tags: , , ,

This weekend, the Jets and Steelers face off for the AFC championship, while the Packers and Bears have an old-school matchup for the NFC championship. Hopefully, nothing gets in the way of your chicken wings, ribs, burgers, cold beers and NFL watching. As always, I will be checking what Terry and Howie have to say, but first, here’s the most interesting stuff I’ve found this week….

  • New Zealand provided pilots to the RAF and one of their daughters posted up photos from her Dad’s service in 127 Squadron. Hopefully, she’ll post some of his journal entries.
  • Three veterans in New Jersey shared some stories with the Wyckoff Historical Society. There are several inaccuracies in the article, as it puts Saigon in Korea (it was probably a town that sounded the same instead of the capital of South Viet Nam) and vaguely refers to the Korean War starting “less than 10 years after World War II” instead of 5 years, but provides interesting little tidbits nonetheless. With World War II veterans dimishing in numbers every day, their stories drift away with them. Hopefully, we can record as many as possible, while also putting them in context with slightly more accurate historical knowledge….
  • One of the darkest chapters of American history is the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. A blogger writes about their own mother’s inability to talk about her internment and has an interview with one of the women was interned on video. If it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you must be made of stone….

Weekend Wanderings New Years 2011
2 January 2011, 11:30
Filed under: Homefront, Leadership, Marines, Navy, Weekend Wanderings | Tags: , , ,

My lament about a lack of posts on Christmas at war was pre-mature. I just hadn’t wandered far enough to see them!

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