Archive for the ‘Supporting the Military’ Category

Sea to Shining Sea

July 12, 2012

This piece may not be about skydivers but it does include people with no shortage of  courage: expectant women whose husbands are deployed.  We often show our appreciation to the troops but don’t always remember the daily sacrifices their spouses make.

Thank God for LeAnn Morrissey, for she remembers.  In 2007 she founded the non-profit Operation Shower which provides joyful baby showers for military families to help ease the burden of deployment. Little did I know when I stumbled upon this organization, it would have such an impact on my life.

It started about a year and a half ago, when my friends Lana Wescott, Judi Marchand, Dana Miller and I proclaimed ourselves ’41’s First Mates’ and set out to raise $25,000. That was the amount needed for Operation Shower to shower 80 expectant moms whose husbands were deployed on the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN-77).

Why 41 you may wonder? And why Maine and Texas you may ask? Well, it’s because those are the two states the ship’s namesake (a/k/a the 41st president of the USA) calls home. Many people from Maine and Texas attended the christening and the commissioning of the ship so feel a real connection to it.

We held many small fundraising events over the course of several months and found that people were delighted to donate. Friends in Maine knitted blueberry baby caps while friends in Texas knitted cowboy booties to go along with the traditional shower-in-a-box provided by Operation Shower which offers everything a new mom could ever need.

Set up day for the shower, entitled ‘Sea to Shining Sea’, was on September 16th at a church in Norfolk, VA. This is what it looked like when we arrived.

And this is what it looked like when we started moving boxes.

Then we started unpacking boxes.

We worked hard all day making table decorations……

arranging flowers…..

Assembling strollers

Organizing all the shower-in-a-boxes.

And unpacking dozens upon dozens of colorful bath tubs. Couldn’t help but think  these bath tubs would also make great wine coolers.

Look how beautiful the room turned out.

And how beautiful is this cake? The bear, the duck, the lighthouse….all cake. And check out the waves. Yes, I ate a bit too much of it and still, 10 months later, I am trying to work it all off. Weight does not come off as easily these days but that is for another blog post.

It never occurred to us that we would be seeing babies. But of course, some of the moms who had recently given birth, had to bring their little ones. We all loved getting a chance to hold the babies while the moms could open their gifts and enjoy that cake.

One of the best parts of the shower was the final raffle for a top- of- the- line stroller. When the winning number ’41’ was called, everyone was instructed to look at the number under their plates. Guess what? They all had the number 41! Look at the face on this mom as she discovered she was a lucky raffle winner.

Here’s a group pic of some of the beautiful moms.

The amazing LeAnn Morrissey a/k/a Chief Shower Officer,is below on the left with the talented Amy Belle Isle, Chief Event Organizer by her side, next is Judi, Lana then me with my bad hair. ( I am so tired of always being the oldest person. Yesterday, a cashier in the grocery store asked me if I wanted the senior discount! When she saw the disgust on my face she immediately started back peddling, saying it was only her first week of work. What was that supposed to mean? I hate that cashier.) Bad hair and all, I am now an Operation Shower groupie and have helped out with two showers in California and one in Connecticut.

A few days after the shower, I received an exciting email from the captain of the aircraft carrier but I am going to save that for another post.

Please check out operationshower.org for more information. That’s an order.

Don’t Mention the Red Sox, Please.

April 18, 2011

I haven’t written much on my blog recently because I’ve been busy working on a book proposal and also on the ME/TX themed baby shower for 100 expectant spouses of the crew of the GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN-77). For more information on the baby shower,  please go to facebook and look for the group entitled, Maine and Texas Support Operation Shower/ GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN-77).

My friend Geri Smith (her husband’s name is Tom), who has been mentoring me on the book project, has repeatedly told me to keep up the blog.

She is probably right but after days of interviews and writing, the last thing I feel like doing is more writing.

In the meantime, under the category of ‘Patriotism’, I have a story I’d like to share. This press release from the office of President George W. Bush (#43) just came my way a few hours ago. I LOVE what he is doing.

PRESIDENT BUSH TO HOST WARRIOR 100 MOUNTAIN BIKE RIDE

DALLAS, TX (April 18, 2011) – From April 25-27th, President George W. Bush will host the Warrior 100 (W100), a 100-kilmometer mountain bike ride in the Big Bend with fourteen United States servicemen and women who were seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’ll be riding across the deserts of Texas with wounded warriors to show the unbelievable character of our men and women in uniform,” said President Bush. “It’s a 100-kilometer ride in the desert, and it’s not a leisurely ride; it’s a ride to herald people who were dealt a severe blow and said, ‘I’m not going to let it tear me down.’”

The W100 will highlight the courage of US troops who have served their country honorably during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It will also herald the significant contributions of organizations that support these heroes and their families while they are gone and when they return home. Organizations represented on the ride include the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Ride 2 Recovery, World T.E.A.M. Sports and the Wounded Warrior Project.

The bike ride will serve as the inaugural event of the Social Enterprise initiative of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The Social Enterprise initiative highlights the work of those who find innovative ways to help others.

Riders alongside President Bush include Sergeant Sam Cila, USA (Ret.) of Riverhead, NY; Sergeant Andy Hatcher, USMC (Ret.) of Alexandria, VA; Sergeant Major Chris Self, USA (Ret.) of Clarksville, TN; Lieutenant Colonel Patty Collins, USA of Kileen, TX; Corporal Jon Copsey, USMC (Ret.) of Vista, CA; Colonel David Haines, USA of Louisville, KY; Specialist Carlos Hernandez, USA of San Antonio, TX; Lieutenant Colonel Marc Hoffmeister, USA of Fort Richardson, AK; Staff Sergeant Scott Bilyeu, USAF (Ret.) of San Antonio, TX; Corporal Josh Davis, USMC (Ret.) of Vail, AZ; Sergeant First Class Dillon Behr, USA (Ret.) of Arlington, VA; Staff Sergeant Kenny Butler, USA (Ret.) of Barre, VT; Sergeant Bryce Cole, USA (Ret.) of Cypress, TX and Specialist Jake Lerner, USA (Ret.) of Jacksonville, FL.For more information and to follow the riders, please visit http://www.w100k.com. For more information on the George W. Bush Presidential Center, including the Social Enterprise Initiative, please visit http://www.bushcenter.com.

PS: Ok, you can ask about the Red Sox today.

Final R H E
Blue Jays 1 2 0
Red Sox 9 13 0
WP: Matsuzaka (1-2, 6.43)
LP: Romero (1-2, 3.12)

The American Widow Project

January 19, 2011

In 2007, Tayrn Davis was 23 years old, married and getting ready to graduate from college when her husband was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. She found herself feeling totally alone and longing to talk with other people in the same situation.

Taryn Davis with her husband, CPL Michael Davis.

Taryn decided to drive across the country to find other young, military widows with whom to talk about love, loss and  to learn how they survive. What started as a trip to help herself heal, turned into the non-profit organization called The American Widow Project, “an organization dedicated to the new generation of those who have lost the heroes of yesterday, today and tomorrow, with an emphasis on healing through sharing stories, tears and laugher…….military widow to military widow.”

Taryn’s cross-country road trip also resulted in a 75 minute documentary featuring six military widows. It covers everything from how they met their husbands, the knock on the door, being a single parent to decorating a headstone. Taryn’s documentary is given out free to all military widows and widowers to assist them in their healing process.

Taryn now travels the country on this bus which lists names of brave soldiers who have given their lives.

The American Widow Project has a newsletter written by widows and a hotline answered by widows. The women do not hold seminars or have speakers they rely on each other. They get together for weekend getaways of golf, surfing and even skydiving in an effort to enjoy life the way they did when their spouses were still alive. Everything is organized by Taryn.

I am astonished at what Taryn has accomplished at such a young age and under such tragic circumstances which is why I nominated her for a Point of Light Award. I know there are lots of good people out there but can’t think of anyone more deserving of the award than Taryn. If you feel the same, please go to pointsoflight.org and click on ‘what we do’ then ‘ recognizing service’ and fill out the online form.  It will only take a few minutes.

Taryn, front/left and friends in front of the AWP bus.

The following quote by Thornton Wilder appears on the AWP website. “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

Please check out the American Widow Project at americanwidowproject.org or by clicking on the link in the blogroll in the column on the right.

100 Bundles of Joy!

August 26, 2010

Brooke Sheldon of Lillybrooke Events, Judi Marchand, Lana Wescott and I are working hard to help spread awareness about Operation Shower, a nonprofit organization which gives unit-wide baby showers to expectant mothers whose husbands are deployed. In addition to raising awareness, we are also raising funds for a baby shower for up to 100 expectant moms whose spouses are on the USS GEORGE HW BUSH (CVN 77).

Brooke recently held a very successful JMcLaughlin trunk show with a percentage of sales going to Operation Shower.

Brooke in front of Lillybrooke Events

Three nights ago we had our first Operation Shower informative event  at the home of dear friends in Kennebunkport, Maine. We were pleased that everyone seemed eager to help.  A few people offered to have fundraisers for our cause and Louise Hurlbutt of Hurlbutt Designs offered to donate 100 baby books for the shower. We have a lot of work ahead but are confident we will raise the $50,000 necessary for the shower.

Lana, Nancy and Brooke

We’ve started a facebook page called, Maine and Texas Support Operation Shower/USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN77). Please join. You don’t have to live in Maine or Texas to participate. If you’d like to make a tax deductible donation, please make checks payable to Operation Shower, write ‘GHWB’ in the bottom corner and mail to Operation Shower, 125 Brighton Way, Clayton, MO, 63105.

If you’d like more information on Operation Shower, go to operationshower.org.

Please help us spread the joy.

Covered in Bike Grease and Dressed in Spandex

August 11, 2010

Joel, Dan and Pete

In a previous post I wrote about West Point grads Joel Glover, Dan Marques and Pete Phipps, who upon returning to the USA after being deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, rode their  bikes across the country to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. The trip started in Portland Maine on June 6 where they ceremoniously dipped their bike tires in the Atlantic Ocean. On July 31, in San Francisco, they dipped their tires in the Pacific Ocean. Mission accomplished. I loved following their trip on pedalinwithapurpose.com so much that I am going through a bit of withdrawal now that it is over. Their final comments posted on the blog were so inspiring, I’ve chosen excerpts to share with everyone.

Dan wrote,  “In addition to raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project, I wanted the chance to reconnect with the country I spent so much time and effort defending overseas. Riding my bicycle across the country with two good friends from West Point allowed me to do both. I was pleasantly surprised with much of what I saw in America over the past two months. For example, despite Americans’ backgrounds or political views, they all are genuinely in support of those who join the ranks of the best military in the world. We were received just as favorably in New York City as we were in Wheeling, West Virginia and Wilmington, Delaware. We met so many great people along the way that it’s tough to speak about them individually, and much easier to speak about them as a whole.   Americans are good. Americans are compassionate and charitable. Americans care about each other and will rally together to support one another in good times and in bad. Americans are patriots and are proud of what this country has accomplished in its short history. I came away from this trip with not only a greater appreciation for the sheer beauty of our country, but with a greater respect for the people who call America “home”. If you think I’m just making this stuff up, try showing up in a small mid-western town covered in bike grease, dressed in spandex and in need of some water or directions…..your people won’t let you down (I know from experience). I just have one final note. Pete, Joel and I talked quite a bit this Summer about the concept of “paying it forward,” or helping people as early and often as you can in order to improve everyone’s quality of life in the long run. We offered assistance to every person we could this Summer and were constantly on the receiving end of random acts of kindness. Let’s keep helping each other. Let’s keep it going…”

Joel wrote: “After committing to this trip, I had lingering concerns about the details of seeing it succeed. Did I have the right bike? Is there a right or wrong set of things to take along? Will the route we choose really make that much of a difference? Or even, how do you change a flat tire? To quell some of these concerns, I asked a good friend and avid outdoor adventurist in Alaska about many things, including how to prepare physically. His response about everything I asked was simple and pointed: ride lots. So I did. From Portland to San Francisco, when something unexpected came up, I just told myself to ride lots. Because after any new challenge arose, big or small, all I had to do was handle it and keep riding and it would soon be behind us. With that simple mantra as my baseline, I was free to see the country without any real worries about what was thrown our way, and everything about the trek turned into something fun and enjoyable. Most importantly, thanks to the Wounded Warriors who gave us seriousness of purpose every morning. Your sacrifices inspired me every day to ride a little harder and advocate on your behalf to everyone we met. This ride might be over, but I’ll still be in your corner, and you can always look me up. Judging by the people we met across 21 states, DC, and four time zones–and those who followed along from around the world–I know I’m not alone in that promise.”

Pete wrote, “In conclusion, I simply encourage everyone to get out and do something epic, whatever that may be. We’ve never been cyclists. We aren’t professional adventure athletes. I can admit that while in Japan I finished dead last in the only cycling event I ever entered and nearly drowned in the East China Sea during my only triathlon. The first flat tire I ever fixed was during this bike ride. When people tried to over analyze our route or questioned how we were going to pull this off, we always joked, “Well, we have A LOT of heart.” I’ll never forget immediately after riding across the Golden Gate Bridge, beaming with pride and relief, Dan casually said, “Not bad for three guys who didn’t know what they were doing. Jack Kerouac, in the American classic, On the Road, said, “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved…” We were mad enough to pull this off, so I encourage you to JUMP into something with the same innocent excitement we fueled ourselves with this summer.”

Tire dipping in the Pacific Ocean.

Joel, Pete and Dan are superstars. Not only have they served their country, they are now helping Wounded Warriors and making an effort to ‘pay it forward’. I love these guys. Please support them by making a donation at pedalinwithapurpose.com.

Red Sox Game vs Aircraft Carrier

August 4, 2010

Last March, for my son’s birthday, I purchased Red Sox tickets so he could see his beloved team play at Camden Yards on May 1. He was thrilled with the tickets since he doesn’t get to see the Red Sox play very often. A few days after his birthday, Nick approached me with a worried look and said he had just been invited to ‘Friends and Family Day’ on the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN 77) on May 1 and didn’t know what to do.  Tough choice. I told him he should go on the aircraft carrier. There will be other Red Sox games but how many times does a person get a chance to go on an aircraft carrier?  The tickets were given away to a Wounded Warrior/ Red Sox fan living in the Baltimore area and Nick headed to Norfolk, VA on May 1.

I was anxious to hear about Nick’s experience, hoping it was good and that he hadn’t regretted his decision. I was relieved to learn that he enjoyed his time on the aircraft carrier and that nothing amazing happened in the Red Sox game. Had Dice-K pitched a no-hitter for example, May 1 would forever be remembered as the day I convinced Nick not to go to the game.  When Nick called to tell me about his experience, I could easily hear the enthusiasm in his voice as he said, “The first thing I noticed was the sheer size of the ship.” That didn’t surprise me since it stands 20 stories above the waterline and has a 4.5 acre flight deck. The ship at 1, 092 feet long is almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall.

Nick was impressed with the crew which “could not have been nicer” and seemed to care immensely about their jobs. “Moreover, it was obvious they were proud of their ship and took great joy in showing it off,” he added.

Cleaning the deck in preparation for 'Friends and Family Day'.

This also did not surprise me as I had heard  the crew and spouses are all honored to be associated with a ship named after former President Bush.

More cleaning.

“To me, the most impressive aspect of the ship was that it moves so quickly. It’s simply mind boggling that a vessel that big can float, let alone cruise at speeds of 30+ knots,” Nick commented.

The ship is powered by two nuclear reactors which can operate for more than 20 YEARS without needing to be refueled. Talk about mind boggling.  Another fact that boggles my mind is that three, two-inch diameter arresting wires on deck can bring an airplane going 150 miles an hour to a complete stop in less than 400 ft.

Nick was fortunate to be able to witness planes taking off and landing on the ship’s flight deck.

“Though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was definitely worth missing a Red Sox and a Bruins game. I’ll never forget my experience on the aircraft carrier, and I know I wouldn’t be saying that about either of those games.”

Here’s a headline from the May 1st game:

Red Sox Live Blog: Orioles Outslug Sox in Home Run Derby at Camden Yards

As my mother always said, “Thank God for small favors.”

Come On Get Happy!

July 6, 2010

Danny  Bonaduce is a radio personality, professional wrestler, and comedian, but most of you will remember him from his role as the middle son, Danny Partridge, in the television series The Partridge Family. After the series ended, Danny who was then only in his late teens, began abusing drugs.  This abuse eventually led to a period of homelessness. Danny would greet autograph-seeking fans then return to the car behind Grauman’s Chinese Theater where he lived.

Danny is front and center.

Danny Bonaduce arrived at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in a big bus with his face plastered on the side. The first thing he said to me in that very scruffy voice was, ” It’s very embarrassing to drive around in a big bus with your face plastered on the side.” It was immediately evident that Danny likes to talk. He seemed perfectly content to stand in one place, happily answering any questions while posing for pictures and signing autographs.

Since so many people were trying to get to Danny, I only had time to ask him why he wanted to skydive. He told me that four years earlier while on a talk show,  guests were talking about missed opportunities in life. One guest said she wished she had tried becoming a ballerina. Another guest said he wished he had pursued being a body builder. Danny said, When it was my turn I said that I never got to serve my country.” He was very serious, very sincere. I was surprised and touched by Danny’s response when he added, I would do whatever the military asks.”

You can see how the skydiver, in this case Danny, has to sit on the jump master's lap, SSG Joe Abeln, while the harnesses are connected. Danny looks a bit concerned which is very normal. Photo courtesy of the Golden Knights.

Danny didn’t have much more  to say about the skydiving opportunity. It was clearly something he was doing only because someone in the military had asked. Period. End of story.

Notice how the videographer ever so casually hangs off the side of the plane!!! Photo courtesy of the Golden Knights.

Danny loved talking about his radio show and fans though, explaining that he never says ‘no’ to anyone asking for an autograph because “the fans pay my salary.”  He scoffs at celebrities who shun their fans, begging for privacy.

Bonaduce and SSG Abeln exiting the plane. Photo courtesy of Golden Knights.

Keep in mind that these people are dropping at a speed over 100 miles per hour. Photo courtesy of the Golden Knights.

Feeling Army Strong after the jump.

When I caught up with Danny at the drop zone after his jump he said “The Golden Knights couldn’t have been more  compassionate. From the van ride to the jump they were truly considerate and professional.”

Danny swiftly disappeared inside to remove his jumpsuit before I could even ask what he thought about wearing something so ridiculously cool. I guess the fact that he wanted to remove it so quickly says something. Perhaps it says he was just eager to climb aboard the bus with his face plastered on the side.

All kidding aside, the military has a very loyal supporter in Danny Bonaduce.

Joel, Dan and Pete are Pedalin’ With A Purpose!

June 24, 2010

Army Captains Joel Glover of  Abilene Texas, Dan Marques of Southern California, and Pete Phipps of Hudson Ohio all  graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in May 2005. Since then, among the three of them , they have served five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Captain Dan Marques is on the right.

While in Afghanistan, Dan and Pete discussed doing something adventurous and worthwhile upon their summer 2010 return to the USA.  It was during one of those discussions when they noticed a map of the USA on the wall, and suddenly knew what that adventure would be.

Captain Pete Phipps

They emailed  their pal Joel in Iraq to see if he was interested.  Joel responded with two words, “Hell yeah.”

Captain Joel Glover

Partnering with the Wounded Warrior Project was a natural for them. They are hoping to raise awareness and $250,000 for the WWP.  So far they have raised about 25% of their goal. Please help them succeed by emailing friends, posting something on facebook, making a donation or if you live in one of the cities or towns they are traveling through, go out to greet them.

You can enjoy following there trip by going to pedalinwithapurpose.com. Updates and photos are posted daily.

For more information on the Wounded Warrior Project, whose motto is ‘The greatest casualty is being forgotten’, go to Woundedwarriorproject.org.

.

Thanking Our Troops One Flight at a Time

May 25, 2010

Last Wednesday, before going to bed, I set the alarm for 4:15 AM.  My plan was to roll out of bed, pour coffee into my travel mug and drive to Portsmouth, NH to greet the 5:45 AM flight of Marines on its last stop before heading to Afghanistan. I wasn’t sure if I would actually go through with my plan since 4:15 AM is so darn early. When the alarm went off, after a second or two of being dangerously close to rolling over and going back to sleep, I suddenly realized the troops were already in flight so knew I had to make an effort. With eyes half open, I threw on clothes, grabbed some coffee and dashed off to Portsmouth. Arriving at the terminal, groggy-eyed and in serious need of more caffeine, I was surprised to see several alert people already there, ready to greet the troops. “Are you in charge of the greeters,” I asked a gentleman who looked official while standing behind a table with donuts and coffee.   “No, I’m just the coffee guy”, he said, ” you have to meet Ed.” I followed ‘the coffee guy’, passing many more alert greeters as we searched the terminal for Ed.

Captain Ed Johnson, Chairman

I finally found Ed while he was in the midst of giving a tour to a handful of new comers. I joined the group just in time to learn that the flight about to arrive would be the 359th flight met by the Pease Greeters. Since the spring of 2005 they have not missed one flight .

We took our places on either side of Heroes’ Walk, a long corridor lined with group photographs of all the soldiers who have passed through the terminal. While waiting for the doors to swing open and the troops to enter, Ed reminded us that this is a “happy time” and led us in practicing our ‘ oorahs’.  For those of you who don’t know what an ‘oorah’ is, it’s a response, used by Marines, to a verbal greeting. It could also be used as an enthusiastic expression. For example, if I told the Marines that the Red Sox had defeated the Yankees, they would undoubtedly yell, “OORAH”.  The Army’s equivalent is’ hooah’ and the Navy Seal’s is ‘hooyah’.  I  quickly learned that I need practice with my oorahs, hooahs and hooyahs.

Patriotic music blared from speakers as the troops, many with stunned expressions, entered the room in single file. They truly seemed shocked to see so many of us enthusiastically applauding, cheering, oorahing and reaching out to shake hands.

The soldiers stunned looks quickly turned into smiles as they made their way down Heroes’ Walk.

Army veteran, Allen Morgan with Jill his English bulldog in tow, has greeted every flight since joining the group six months ago. “Once I found them”, he said, “I never left.”  Allen became my unofficial guide, teaching me all the ropes.

Allen Morgan and Jill

The soldiers all headed for the coffee area where they mingled with greeters.

Even Jill attended the coffee

I chatted with Marines from Nebraska, Texas and West Virginia. Imagine that each Marine thanked me for being there!  As they left the coffee area the soldiers could help themselves to books, puzzles and candy for their long flight.

We all gathered in a room near the gate where a group picture was taken followed by the singing of our national anthem and a prayer.

This photo will be framed and hung on the wall in Heroes' Walk.

All the soldiers were given phone cards and told there were hand knit caps waiting for them in their seats on the plane. Also waiting for each soldier was an embroidered star cut from a retired American flag with a message attached as a reminder that they are in our thoughts.

The Commander was presented with a shirt signed by all the greeters.

"With happy hearts we are going to get on this plane and go do what we have to do."

When it was announced that the pilot was ready, the troops left as they had arrived, in single file, passing the greeters one more time.

Just when I thought it was time to go home, I learned that many of the greeters go to the end of the runway to wave. When I caught up with the people by the runway, I was immediately handed a pin with the words ‘Pease Greeters-Fence Force’. Everyone was hurriedly getting signs and flags out of cars in preparation for the plane. Since I was one of the newcomers, I was given the honor of holding ‘Norm the Gnome’ who supposedly has his own facebook page. I didn’t really get the ‘gnome thing’ but went along with it anyway.

The Newcomers. That's me with Norm the Gnome.

The Entire Fence Force

As the plane taxied towards us, someone led us in singing God Bless America as everyone waved.

While the plane stopped in front of us for several moments, you could see hands waving in the windows.

The plane taxied down the runway as the greeters kept waving.

Once the plane had taken off, people quickly packed up their signs and flags, putting them away for another flight. I said to no one in particular, “I guess you can’t do this at night.” A fellow Fence Forcer answered, “Yes we can. I have a generator on the truck. We do this for every flight.”  I chatted with Wendy Whittle, another member of the Fence Force, while walking to our cars. The conversation started with Wendy telling me that she first greeted troops at Pease with her grandson’s class then became hooked and has been greeting troops ever since. The conversation ended with us both in tears. I said ‘good-bye’, got in my car, wiped away the tears and couldn’t stop thinking of all that had transpired when I suddenly noticed Wendy Whittle’s bumper sticker as she drove off. “I Don’t Brake For Yankee Fans!” Gotta love that.

There are two flights of returning troops this Sunday, May 30th so if you are close to Portsmouth, you should become a greeter. Check out peasegreeters.org for flight information. Links are posted in the column on the right.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone.

Happy Mother’s Day to Tara Boyce

May 9, 2010

Tara Boyce is a very strong woman who is very proud of her sons Owen and Patrick.

On March 31, 2010, Tara had her head shaved for a fund-raising event benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Who needs hair with a smile like that?

She  knew her oldest son Owen was interested in the military from an early age. While in boarding school Owen was involved with the ‘Sea Cadets’, a teen program sponsored by the US Navy. Through this program, he spent 2 weeks one summer at a Navy base in RI and the following with the Navy Seals in VA. It was the Navy Seals experience that made Owen realize he wanted to go to a military school. Owen once told his mother, “The Navy can’t do anything without their ships, but the Marines can do everything with nothing.” He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2001 and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Marine Corps. At the age of 23, Owen was in charge of 40 Marines  in the battle of Fallejuh. Dropping from dehydration, several soldiers had IVs inserted by the medic, then went into battle with iv bags strapped to their arms. When I asked Tara how often she was able to communicate with Owen,  she said she received “an occasional call and email”.  Tara always felt that no news was good news. “What I didn’t want was an unexpected knock on the front door, or to come home from work and see an unfamiliar vehicle parked in front of the house.” Tara explained that she and her husband Tim would awake every morning to NPR’s latest war news from Iraq on the clock radio. “We’d lie in bed and if the news was about marines, we’d wonder ‘is this where Owen is’?”

Tara’s other son Patrick did officer training with the Marines during two summers while in college. He graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2005 and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Marine Corps the same day.

Patrick in Afghanistan

Patrick has already had two tours to Iraq and is now in Kabul, Afghanistan. While Owen plans a career in the military, his younger brother Patrick plans to serve for a few years then go on to something else.

Tara's son Patrick is on the left.

“Now when we hear news about Afghanistan, I do, right away want to know if it is about Kabul”, Tara said.  She receives the occasional email from her son which is always welcomed.

At one point both Owen and Patrick were in Iraq at the same time which was particularly worrisome for their parents. When I asked Tara how she stays strong she replied, “Praying the rosary is my comfort. I pray it not just for my sons, but for all the troops.”  And then Tara added, “When I start to worry about one of them getting injured or killed, I realize that my worry is somewhat self-centered, the worry is about me- my loss of them, my loss of any children they may have had. It’s better if I focus on them– that they chose to serve, that they are grown men, that they are trained officers.”

The Boyce Family

Tara concluded by saying, “I’m proud of them both for their patriotism, courage and sacrifice.”

I am in awe of Tara Boyce and all our soldier’s mothers for their patriotism, courage and sacrifice. Happy Mother’s Day and may God bless you all.