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Archive for March, 2013

Why wait until next week to register for the Marine Corps Marathon when you can run for a cause with Team Operation Homefront! For the past several years, we’ve run in honor of those closest to our hearts: our heroes who show us what determination and courage really means, and to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Meet our 2013 Team Operation Homefront Honorees:

gallegosTeamOHThe Gallegos Family: Sebastian and Tracie

When Marine Corps Cpl. Sebastian Gallegos arrived in Afghanistan the fighting began almost as soon as he arrived.

His unit replaced a group of British commandos who had just headed home. There was no time to adjust. The Marines were met with constant firefights. Continuous movement. Daily war.

Sebastian, a rifle team leader, was heading back to the patrol base with his team on Oct. 16, 2010. His squad leader stepped on an IED. The blast tore into Sebastian’s body and tossed him into a canal. His squad leader died in the helicopter on the way to the hospital. Sebastian’s right arm was amputated in the field hospital. Doctors left the shrapnel that peppered his back.

Once in the U.S., Sebastian’s wife, Tracie, came to San Antonio to be by his side. After three weeks as an in-patient, he was able to live with her in the nearby guest house. The one room accommodations were stressful for the couple and their dog.

Operation Homefront gave the young family a place to plan for the future. Now Sebastian and Tracie live at the Operation Homefront Village in San Antonio. Sebastian said the spacious apartment, “feels like home.” The accommodations have also allowed the couple to save for a home of their own.

“We are saving so much money here,” he said.

Sebastian, now 23, is in the process of applying to college and plans to study political science.

CruzTeamOH

The Cruz Family: Carlos, Patricia, Enrique and Yazmine

Marine Sgt. Carlos Cruz has spent a combined 23 months in Iraq over three tours.

During each tour, the infantry Marine suffered TBI after IED blasts knocked him aside and left him unconscious.

Three deployments. Three blasts. Three bruises on his brain.

On his last trip to the battlefield, the 7-ton truck he was riding in veered off the road and rolled over. Carlos was ejected from the vehicle and knocked out. He woke up nearly an hour later at an Air Force base.

When he hit the ground, his neck and spine took the brunt of the impact.

Today, Carlos suffers chronic, debilitating pain because of that day. Doctors will not operate for fear of doing more damage. He also suffers from severe arthritis in his hands. If he tries to write for more
than 15 minutes, his hands swell. He cannot type or drive for longer than a few minutes.

Carlos was moved to the wounded warrior battalion where he worried every day about how he would support his family once he was medically retired. His wife, Patricia, was laid off soon after.

Operation Homefront gave them a safe place to live to make a plan for the future. Carlos is now medically retired and awaiting his final VA rating. He said without Operation Homefront’s help, the family, Carlos said, may have been
homeless.

“If we weren’t at the village, it wouldn’t be good at all,” Carlos said. “This is a blessing and then some.”

 

Team Operation Homefront (TOH) is an endurance training program that provides athletes with an opportunity to fundraise for Operation Homefront while training for an endurance event either on their own or in a team environment. Funds raised go to support Operation Homefront Villages.

Also visit Team Operation Homefront on Facebook and on Twitter @RunTeamOH

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I’ve never been on a cruise. Or should I say, on a ship that wasn’t painted gray and called USS Lincoln.  But when I heard that Princess Cruises was launching their inaugural Cruise for a Cause, and that it would honor veterans and military members, AND that a portion of the sales would go to Operation Homefront and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, I felt the call of the sea.

Now, I had to convince my husband (a submarine veteran) of why he should sail the seas when, in his former life,  the very mention of a surface ship produced snorts and NOT ON YOUR LIFES and other amusing commentary (submariners…eyeroll). So I made up a fun little list of 6 reasons to go:

1.  It’s a ship, not a boat. If you have ever been around a submariner and made this mistake, then you know why that’s an important distinction.  Since it is a ship, he won’t be “disloyal” by riding on the waves rather than under them, and with the cruise honoring military and veterans, he’d have plenty to counter with when the ribbing starts (and it always starts).

GEEK OUT: This baby is a 112,894 gross tons, 947-foot-long and 206-foot-tall giant of  high seas fun.  (I have to throw stats at the hubby…he’s also a former Navy Nuke.  If you’ve met one, I don’t have to explain.)

BONUS: It’s not haze gray or black. cruiseship1

(Yes, honey, that is a “real” ship.)

2. You can actually see the ocean. Believe or not, you can do a ton of sea duty and not actually SEE the ocean.  Or sunlight.  And you definitely want to watch getting into a car with a submariner after a patrol.

submarine1

(Not even close to reality)

 

Windows and balconies are not an option on your billion dollar submarine, but you can have one or both and more depending on which stateroom you choose for your Princess Cruise.

3.  Lack of sleep will be by choice Nine nightclubs, 3 lounges, 2 theatres can steal your sleep rather than Oncoming, On Watch, Off going. You don’t even have to know where the engine room IS on the ship (and if you go around asking to hang out in there, then I will enlist some of the other Navy veterans to harass you mercilessly.  And you know they will…MGACoftheClanNOAC)

blackout

(Hint: Ooops)

4.  The former Joint Chiefs Chairman and Chief of Naval operations are coming, and you won’t even have to shave! You can even call yourself Admiral. Of Starfleet.  Or The Backyard. Whatever floats your boat.

deck chairs

(You have the deck and the conn!)

I will, however, VETO any leaning over the rail yelling “I’m King of The World!!!”  For the children.

5.  You really can “Drink to the Foam!” And explain what MGACoftheClanNOAC really means during one of the service branch get-togethers hosted throughout the voyage.  You know sea stories are the BEST stories. Especially when they involve King Neptune.

kingneptuneblog

(That Shellback Ceremony was off the hook…)

6.   There’s Food. A lot of it. I really don’t have to add much to this, except that you can go out to sea and not lose 20 pounds. Or wonder why the lettuce is suddenly green again.  Everything is hand-made, seasonal, fresh and Princess  buys local.

chef_marci

(If 50 different types of pasta isn’t enough of a draw, then I don’t know what is!)

All joking aside, this is sure to be a unique and incredibly fun time, and it’s all for a great cause.  If you’ve always wanted to take a cruise, this is the one for you. This 4-day Western Caribbean vacation cruises from Houston, Texas Nov. 5, 2013. The ship, the Caribbean Princess, features a host of onboard restaurants, cafes, lounges and spas for guests to enjoy, and will make one stop in beautiful Progreso, Mexico. You can dine by the pool, enjoy 24-hour room service and make new friends as you sail. To learn more about Cruise for Cause or to book your spot, visit Cruising for A Cause.

You could also win a spot on board by entering at www.operationhomefront.net/cruise . After you have entered the promotion online, you may submit up to three patriotic photos to earn additional entries. Anchors Away!

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gayeisenhausermurphygoodeMother of  fallen soldier Gay Eisenhauer has been selected as Murphy Goode Winery’s February Hero of the Month. Nominated by her childhood friend, Jesse, herself the wife of a injured veteran, Gay’s story is deeply moving and inspiring.

In 2005, Gay’s son Wyatt was killed by an IED in Iraq at the age of 26. When his body was brought home, Gay was shocked – “I can’t tell you what it was like to drive up to the airport and see Wyatt being brought out with a forklift, the casket teetering,” she said.

She went on to lobby for a national law that requires those who die in service to be flown home on a military jet. Their caskets must be draped with a flag and accompanied by an Honor Guard. The law went into effect in January 2007.

As Jesse wrote, “Gay attends funerals of fallen heroes, reaches out to Gold Star families, and helps to raise awareness and funds to benefit service members and veterans. Gay founded the Wyatt D. Eisenhauer Memorial Fund, awarding scholarships. Annually she organizes a ride to honor our service members and hosts a Run For the Fallen Event. It’s not about how long he lived but how he lived. I am a believer in paying it forward. Wyatt made the ultimate sacrifice to “Pay it forward,” a trait he certainly learned from his mother! For that she is my hero!”

Gay has chosen the Wyatt D Eisenhauer Memorial scholarship fund as her chairty of choice, with a matching 1000.00 given to Operation Homefront.

In case you haven’t heard, Murphy Goode is looking for a Few Goode Heroes. They want to hear about the people who are making a difference in your community. Nominate your hero by submitting a photo and a 250 word essay. One monthly Hero will be selected through fan votes and a team of judges to receive a donation to the charity of their choice*, and Murphy-Goode will make a matching donation to one of our heroes, Operation Homefront.

One grand prize hero will win a 4th of July BBQ in their hometown, sponsored by Murphy-Goode and catered by their Grill Sergeant!

murphygoodeheroes

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marknewberry-airforceMark Newberry, Air Force

Mark moved for the 10th time, from Virginia to Washington state, the summer before his senior year.  He carries a 4.25 GPA with a course load of Advanced Placement statistics, anatomy, physiology, European history and literature.   Mark earned three varsity letters in cross-country and placed third with his team at the state championship.  He earned the prestigious rank of Eagle in Boy Scouts at just 13 years old.  Mark teaches Sunday school, visits shut-ins every other weekend and volunteers at the local VA thrift store and elderly village.  His school principal, John McSmith wrote, “Mark is a person of character who always does the right thing.  He is thoughtful and considerate to everyone, willing to help and work for the success of the team.”  He participated in the Duke University TIP Program for clinical psychology and shadowed a surgeon for 20 hours for his senior honors project, all in pursuit of a career in medicine.  Mark will study pre-med and has been accepted to the University of Texas-Austin, the University of Michigan and Baylor University and awaiting to hear back from Air Force ROTC and a few other universities.  He is the son of Jill and Brian Newberry.

nicolemariedaly-armyNicole Marie Daly, Army

Nicole, age 16, has moved 9 times and so far, attended 3 high schools.  Despite these constant changes, Nicole is ranked near the top of her class with a 4.7 GPA, a weighted score based on her coursework of Honors and Advanced Placement classes.  She has earned varsity letters in both cross-country and track, and runs half-marathons with her father.  Nicole served as the Military Child Education Representative for Fort Lee on a panel determining ways to help military children transition between schools.  Nicole also volunteers with a Family Readiness Group, the Fort Lee Spouse’s Club, and spends weekends visiting National Guard and Reserve units to teach soldiers and dependents about their education benefits.  Nicole was nominated by her school counselor, Tara Bauman-Seely, who wrote, “She is truly an example of a well-rounded student and immediately embraced her new environment and involved herself with extra-curricular activities.  She certainly stands out to me as a role model for military students!”  Nicole is the daughter of Cathy and Edward Daly.

amandawimmerberg-coastguardAmanda Wimmersberg, Coast Guard

Amanda is a gifted and talented senior with a 4.0 GPA and is captain of the varsity soccer team and track team.  She is a member of the Peer Leadership program which helps freshman acclimate to their new school by providing an older student to talk to about problems and make sure they aren’t getting bullied.  Amanda was the Teen Panel member of the Military Family Action Planning Committee and volunteers with her soccer team, student council and National Honor Society to organize beach cleanups and fundraisers.  She conducts senior citizen home visits with her church youth group.  Amanda is Red Cross CPR and First Aid certified and works as a lifeguard at the local community college.  Amanda was nominated by her school counselor, Kelly Reising, who wrote, “Frequent moves have always been a part of her life and so Amanda adapted quickly to her new environment. From the beginning, it was clear that Amanda was resilient, hard-working and intelligent.”  Amanda will begin college at the University of Central Florida where she will study to be a physical therapist.  Amanda is the daughter of Christina and Richard Schultz.

abigailmaryroseperdew-marinecorpsAbigail MaryRose Perdew, Marine Corps

Abigail is student council president and captain of the cross-country team and track and field team.  She carries a 4.1 GPA as a full International Baccalaureate (IB) senior with advanced placement courses in economics, calculus, European history and physics.  She has volunteered over 200 hours this year including math tutoring and as president of Student 2 Student, has grown the outreach of this group which helps new students acclimate to their new school and host country culture.  Linda Berger, the IB Coordinator for Bahrain School, wrote, “In my nearly thirty years as a secondary school educator, I regard Abigail as one of my top students.  She is intelligent, talented, highly motivated and positive.”    Abigail has earned an appointment to the United States Naval Academy and plans to study development economics and Arabic.  She would like to work as an attaché or Foreign Area Officer and in the long term, as a diplomat or run for public office.  Abigail is the daughter of Jessica and Jason Perdew.

alexanderrayburch-navyAlexander Ray Burch, Navy

Born at 25 weeks and 1.5lbs, Alexander Ray Burch was not expected to survive the night.  He pulled through but at age four, doctors discovered he was hearing impaired and would continue to lose his hearing with age.  Instead of limiting him, Alexander excels in doing for others.  While living in Guam, then nine-year old Alexander collected food and water and delivered supplies to villagers who lost their homes in a devastating typhoon.  Since then, he has grown into an honors student and chess enthusiast who immerses himself in volunteering, over 400 hours this past year including producing a video for an Anti-Bullying Campaign.  He is a member of the golf team and on homecoming court.  Dawn Thompson, Director of Youth Programs at Grand Forks Air Force Base wrote, “There is nothing he will not do and ‘no’ does not appear to be in his vocabulary.  He is an inspiration for all kids and many adults.”  While his hearing disability prevents Alexander from pursuing his dream of a Navy career, he plans to study at the University of North Dakota for a career in government supporting the military.  Alexander is the son of Joanne and David Burch.

United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is the presenting sponsor for the Military Child of the Year® Award. UTC, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company that provides high technology products and services to the building and aerospace industries.

Additional event sponsors include: Wounded Warrior ProjectMilitary Times, Soldiers’ AngelsVeterans United FoundationBank of AmericaExpress ScriptsTeenCentralLaQuinta Inn & HotelsFlextronics, and Northrop Grumman.

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