Post by Al Burzynski, APR (photo by Al Burzynski, APR, 2008)
One of our cohorts and my dear friend Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Army Veteran, John B. Jordan asked me to pass along this bit of sad news a member of his family Michael I.A. Yoder, GWOT Marine Veteran, age 23, pass Aug. 8, 2019, Newark, Ohio.
If you can, please support his call to action and attend the funeral as he wants to ensure his beloved, GWOT Marine, receives a proper send off. I will be attending representing the Fallen 15.
Please keep John, our fallen Marine, and his friends and family in your prayers.
In closing, wanted to share the words of my cohort, retired Army Chaplain Bill Underwood who said during a compelling, thought provoking training session, “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” It’s important to remember we are not alone and there is no shame in calling on your battle buddy, cohort, friend, loved one or even the VA Crisis Hotline if you are in need. Always know your voice matters and regardless what you might think at the moment someone does care.
Did you know POW/MIA Recognition Day is commemorated every September on the third Friday, a date not associated with any particular war. In 1979, after the families of the more than 2,500 Vietnam War POW / MIAs pushed for full accountability, Congress and the president passed resolutions making it official. Last year we teamed up with the Yellow Ribbon Support Center for the first annual Pause to Remember event.
The Fallen 15 and their patriotic cohorts once again will reaffirm our pledge to; Never Forget.
Check out Yellow Ribbon Support Center’s Keith Maupin one-on-one interview with Global War on Terrorism Combat Veteran Gretchen Klingler as a part of the National Veterans Memorial Museum (NVMM) RallyPoint series. Image created by Rick Isbell.
Today, I (Al Burzynski, APR, Fallen 15 board member) was reminded of the importance of warrior wisdom and the importance of the Falen 15 misison. A special thank you to Fallen 15 President Rick Isbell for his leadership, patriotism, and continued service to country. I’ve been fortunate to be able to serve alongside him in the veterans’ community for many years and together we continue to make a positive difference in the world with our Fallen 15 cohorts. Wanted to share with everyone a heartfelt leter from one of our Vietnam Veteran cohorts U.S. Army Capt. Robert “Mac” McGowan (retired). He wrote this letter for an Army Soldier, with the blessing from his mother, who was on leave attending a country concert back in 2006 and fell victim to a vicious physical assault because he was wearing a t-shirt representing his Army unit. The following letter, “Warrior Wisdom” served as the impetus for my Welcome HomeWarrior Project (2005 – 2010). Together Rick and I established and supported the groundbreaking military seamless transition program. The Welcome Home Warrior logo Rick and I created, and Rick brought to life through his illustrations is one that has signifigant meaning even today. (See letter and illustration below. For a copy of the letter contact email@example.com or txt 614.537.5440.
Author of Welcome Home Warrior Letter Robert “Mac” McGowan (2006) Co. A, 2/8 Calvalry (Airborne) Served two tours of duty in Vietnam as an Infantryman.
Dear American Warrior:
Thank you for your service to our country and for your willingness to put your life on the line.
I saw combat in the Vietnam War. Since I am also a returned combat soldier, I know you have seen things, experienced things and done things that most people in the America to which you will return will never be able to understand.
Returning home will puzzle you. Nothing will ever be the same. This is part of the burden and the blessing we warriors bear.
We speak a language that only other warriors can truly understand. Memories and dreams will visit us for the rest of our lives. Our wounds may heal, but our scars will remain forever.
The protected America to which you return will never be able to comprehend what you have done for them.
With the exception of the people who were directly touched by the attack on September 11th, American civilians do not understand war. You and I do not want them to know what we have had to learn.
We have seen the effects of war’s savagery in the faces of small children. We do not want to have to see American children wear those same, sad faces. When you return to our America, I urge you be patient with our protected countrymen. If they jest at your scars and belittle your sacrifice, it is because they have never felt a wound. They have no concept as to how much they are in your debt.
As a warrior, you are blessed. You now understand the fragility of life. You know that each mundane moment is filled with miracles. Not knowing if each day or moment would be our last, we learned in combat to appreciate each moment and to savor every simple pleasure.
You deeply understand the concept of selfless sacrifice, of total commitment to something more important than self. You know a vintage of love that comes from a willingness to lay down your life for your friends. You have watched them do as much for you. Most people never receive this wisdom.
You comprehend friendship in dimensions unfathomed by those who have not received the sacrament of battle. Our comrades, living and dead, more brothers than our own brothers, will live within us for all time. Not every one here will understand.
When you return to America from your foreign war, you will begin to understand that we are aliens in our own land. We are travelers come home from far-flung destinations, poor in substance, rich in deepest understanding.
You must never forget this wisdom. You must never deny nor denigrate it. You and I and the very few like us, have had the high honor to have served at the very sharpest point of the spear.
We know that war must never be invoked for light and transient reasons. We understand that the only acceptable goal of war is victory. We know too well, that the road to victory is paved with blood and tears.
Thank you for your service, courage and sacrifice – and welcome home.
Welcome to our warrior band.
We extend to you our hearts and hands from a thousand battlefields.
We are standing together today and reaffirming our dedication to Honor. Celebrate. Inspire. In memory of Sgt. Matt Maupin. Al Burzynski, APR, Fallen 15 board member accompanied Marine Veteran (Vietnam), Keith Maupin, founder of the Yellow Ribbon Support Center as members of the National Veterans Memorial & Museum unveiled a bench in the memory of his son Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin’s loving memory.
(Left to right) Chef John Skaggs, Yellow Ribbon Support Center Founder, Marine Veteran (Vietnam) and Fallen 15 board member Al Burzynski were on hand to take part in the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) monument dedication today at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum.
Did you know on August 7, Purple Heart Day marks the creation of America’s oldest army merit award. The Purple Heart honors the men and women of the Purple Heart Military Order. Photo by Michelle Shopshire.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – New Ohio Wrestling (NOW) and the Fallen 15 joined forces here August 3, 2019, to support the Honor. Celebrate. Inspire. ™ (HCI) initiative as part of the annual Ohio State Fair, which attracted over 930,000 tourists, according to WBNS 10TV.
Krista Williams, Gold Star Survivor, and her family took part in a meet and greet with NOW wrestling talent and participated in the Fallen 15 HCI tolling of the ring bell ceremony in remembrance of Ohio military warriors who gave all supporting the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).
“It’s always good to have him, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Wesley R. Williams, remembered and know he is not forgotten because everything he did was for a reason,” said the mother of his two daughters’ Faith, 7 and Valerie, 5.
She added, “Don’t forget them, just say their names. They fought for us, they died for us and they shouldn’t be forgotten.”
NOW President and founder Donnie Hoover and all the wrestlers in the promotion were moved by the remembrance ceremony and having the opportunity to learn about how Staff Sgt. Wesley lived and gave all in defense of our nation’s freedoms.
“Our nation owes a debt to our warriors who gave everything in service to our country and their families who sacrificed so much that we can never fully repay their sacrifice, but we can remember the warriors who gave all while uplifting and helping their families who sacrificed so much,” said Hoover.
Photo by Michelle Shopshire
NOW 2019 Arnold Sports Festival Kids and Teens Expo Champion Onyx proudly stands united in support of our fallen warriors with Krista Williams and her family.
The newly formed NOW/Fallen 15 tag-team is dedicated to promoting and uplifting those who replied to America’s call to duty and their families; especially those families who are still fighting the good battle out of love for their fallen warrior look forward to building on the collaboration’s achievements.
“We are lucky to have an exceptional, socially responsible support multiplier like NOW because without their patriotic assistance our mission would be much difficult to accomplish,” said Fallen 15 board member and Army veteran Al Burzynski, APR.
Photo by Michelle Shopshire
Burzynski is joined by NOW founder Donnie and Terri Hoover along with Staff Sgt. Williams’ family members prepare to take part in the Fallen 15 Honor.Celebrate.Inspire. ™ squared-circle, remembrance ceremony.
Staff Sgt. Wesley R. Williams of New Carlisle, Ohio, gave all at 25 years of age in support of Operation Enduring Freedom December 10, 2012, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was assigned Company B, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th SBCT, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA.
Expressing support for the designation of April 9, 2019, as National Yellow Ribbon Day.
Whereas yellow is the official color of the active combat arms branch of the United States Army;
Whereas the yellow ribbon symbol was first used in the United States to mark national unity and remembrance for the 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days, beginning on November 4, 1979;
Whereas, during the Persian Gulf war, Americans again used the yellow ribbon to promote solidarity for United States troops;
Whereas, in 2006, the New York State Assembly and Senate unanimously proclaimed April 9 to be New York State Yellow Ribbon Day;
Whereas April 9, 2004, was the day Staff Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, was captured in Iraq, making him the Iraq war’s first POW/MIA; Whereas yellow ribbons worn on lapels or clothing traditionally represent the message of “support our troops”; and Whereas National Yellow Ribbon Day is a day for all Americans to celebrate our current active duty troops: Now, therefore, be it that the House of Representatives supports the designation of National Yellow Ribbon Day.
Soon after the start of April, the towns of both Clifton Park and Halfmoon will soon be adorned with yellow ribbons.
The ribbons are the work of Carol Pingelski Hotaling, a Clifton Park resident who has been making the ribbons for 27 years, and has, on occasion, teamed up with other groups, including the Blue Star Mothers of America, to support both veterans and enlisted soldiers.
Hotaling makes all the ribbons herself. A few years ago, she used 75 rolls of waterproof ribbon that cost a total of about $5,500, paid for by VFW Post No. 358 in Ballston Spa.
Hotaling’s ribbons can be found throughout Southern Saratoga County, including Halfmoon, Ballston Spa, Malta and Saratoga Springs.
Hotaling’s efforts with the yellow ribbons are longstanding — each year, she organizes an event for April 9 in Halfmoon that celebrates the day and pays homage to military service members.
Each year since 2006, New York State has unanimously proclaimed April 9 to be the state’s official Yellow Ribbon Day, largely the result of Hotaling’s outreach and work.
The date of April 9 has significance. On April 9, 2004, Staff Sgt. Keith “Matt” Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, was captured in Iraq, making him the Iraq War’s first prisoner of war. After his capture, his family established the Yellow Ribbon Support Center, which sent troops care packages along with photographs of Matt in the hope that spreading his story would help locate their son.
Hotaling’s goal, however, has been to spread the idea of the day much farther than New York.
“The Yellow Ribbon program has only been in Saratoga County,” Hotaling said on Sunday. “Nobody else does this.”
But finally, her work is paying off.
U.S. Representatives Paul Tonko (D-New York) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) introduced the Yellow Ribbon Day Resolution recently expressing congressional support for designating April 9 officially as Yellow Ribbon Day to honor the service and sacrifice of active duty troops at home and abroad, and their families throughout the United States.
“Our active duty service members and their families sacrifice much and risk everything to keep us safe,” said Tonko in a media release. “Expressing congressional support for a Yellow Ribbon Day is a way to honor them for their bravery and thank them for their service as protectors of our freedom and our way of life. I am grateful to the many New Yorkers, including in our state legislature, for leading the way in recognition of Yellow Ribbon Day and I urge Congress to respond in kind and support this positive, bipartisan resolution.”
“I am proud to support the National Yellow Ribbon Day to honor the life and memory of Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, and all those who have been held as prisoners of war,” said Wenstrup, in a release. “Though Matt is no longer with us, his memory will never perish. My prayers are with Matt’s parents as we approach the anniversary of his capture. I am grateful to the Maupin family for their sacrifice for this nation, and for all they have done to support our service members and families through the Yellow Ribbon Support Center.”
State and local efforts to formally recognize Yellow Ribbon Day have received support from organizations including American Gold Star Mothers, endorsing the resolution nationally, as well as Blue Star Mothers of America and Patriot Guard Riders in the New York Capital Region.