Showing posts with label Gold Star Families. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gold Star Families. Show all posts

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Marines remember fallen from Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan

Marines remember fallen from Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan
By Cpl. Chelsea Flowers
Headquarters Marine Corps

6/12/2012 By Cpl. Marcin Platek Headquarters Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Steven A. Hummer, commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North, and Sandra Mandez-Ruiz, a Gold Star family member, listen to the playing of taps at a wreath laying ceremony at traveling Vietnam War Memorial Wall at Voinovich Park here June 12. Voinovich Park is one of the sites of displays available for public during the Marine Week Cleveland. Along with the wall, Marine Corps vehicles, aircraft and equipment will be available for viewing at Public Square, Voinovich Park, Gateway Plaza and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Marine Week Cleveland celebrates community, country and the Corps. More than 750 Marines journeyed to Cleveland for the event, which runs through June 17. Ohio has more than 9,000 active and reserve Marines, making it one of the top-five producers of Marines.

CLEVELAND — A somber crowd gathered in front of the traveling Vietnam War Memorial Wall in Voinovich Park for a wreath-laying ceremony during Marine Week Cleveland June 12, 2012.

Although the wall lists the names of the fallen from the conflict in Vietnam, the service also commemorated those who paid the ultimate price in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’ve been out here 14 hours a day doing this and still every ceremony we do is very emotional,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Drake, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the Marine Week honor guard at the Vietnam War Memorial Wall.

During the ceremony, which will take place daily throughout Marine Week, a Gold Star family member lays the wreath at the foot of the flagpole in front of the wall.

Today, Sandra Mendez-Ruiz placed the wreath to honor the life and sacrifice of her nephew, Lance Cpl. David Alberto Mendez, who was killed in Iraq six years ago.

“When David died, I lost David, but I gained a family,” Ruiz said. “What I’ve learned in the past six and a half years is that the Marine Corps is a family – it’s a bond unlike any other. It doesn’t just include the Marines, it includes the family of those who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gold Star Dads grieve too!

Military dads with tragic bond share their grief
The Tampa Tribune
Published: April 21, 2012


The men in the living room at the Southern Comfort Inn Bed and Breakfast nod knowingly as they talk about things no one else fully can understand.

They are part of a small fraternity no man wants to join. They are gathered in Ruskin to share their stories and their pain, and to be with the only people who truly know what it's like.

There are about 68 million fathers in the United States. A few more than 6,000 of them have lost a child to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The six men in the living room are among that .001 percent, gathered on a cloudy Saturday by American Gold Star Mothers Inc., a service organization dedicated to helping the parents of the fallen, be it from battle, accident and even suicide.
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Some Gold Star families feel disconnected

Some Gold Star families feel disconnected
By Gregg Zoroya - USA Today
Posted : Wednesday Jan 4, 2012 9:37:22 EST
COLLINSVILLE, Okla. — Jane Horton wears a small Gold Star pin honoring her husband, Army Spc. Christopher D. Horton, who was killed by Taliban gunfire four months ago.

“It’s like an outward expression of a burden carried deep inside,” Jane says about an emblem Congress created after World War II for those who lost loved ones to war.

Except that no one today seems to know what it means.

“I’ve never been asked about it. Ever,” she says.

As the 26-year-old widow of an Oklahoma guardsman killed in combat, it is another reason Jane says she feels a world apart from other Americans.

She sensed it standing on an airport tarmac as her husband’s body was unloaded from the belly of an aircraft. She could see the faces staring down from the jetway windows above, parents holding children and pointing.

“I definitely feel there’s a disconnect,” she says.

National leaders and advocacy groups say they see a widening rift between a military at war and a public at peace, distracted by a sputtering economy and weary of hearing about Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Not every American knows what a ... Gold Star family is,” first lady Michelle Obama said recently when she unveiled a Gold Star Christmas tree at the White House.

“Americans ... often don’t realize that these people are right here among us,” says Ami Neiberger-Miller, a spokeswoman for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a non-profit that helps military families who lose loved ones.
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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Soldier’s ‘Avoidable’ Death Spurs Gold Star Dad to Action

Man On a Mission: Soldier’s ‘Avoidable’ Death Spurs Gold Star Dad to Action

Rudy Acosta was a Santa Clarita boy through and through. Born at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, he attended Santa Clarita Christian School and enlisted in the Army as a medic. He wanted to save lives and become a surgeon.

He shipped off to Afghanistan in the summer of 2010. When he came back home for a visit in January, he came back a man.

Two months later he was dead.

He didn’t step on a land mine. He didn’t get shot by a sniper. He didn’t fall in a firefight.

Rudy and his fellow soldiers were back at their base – safely, by all rights, inside the wire.

They were preparing for a mission, cleaning their guns, when an Afghan insurgent masquerading as a protector opened fire on the troops he was hired to guard.

Rudy may have saved one last life as he fell. Reports suggest he may have stepped into a bullet intended for another solider – a woman who credits Rudy for the fact that she is alive today to raise her own family.
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Gold Star family group no one wants to have to join

Linda Faulstich said "It's an exclusive club that no one wants to be eligible for." but she is thankful for the support from other families. No one knows what it is like to be one of these families and when family and friends turn away or don't want to talk about it anymore, there is a lot of pain piled on.

As hard as it is for most of these families, the families left behind because of suicide find it ever harder to find support from people they depend on the most. Gold Star families can be their lifeline.

Event connects Gold Star Families, kin of those who died in military service

By Rick Rojas
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 25, 2010

An indescribable pain consumes two Maryland mothers as they approach the anniversaries of their entrance into a network of families they hoped never to join: those with children killed in war.

On Aug. 5, 2006, Deborah Higgins buried her first-born son, Lance Cpl. James W. Higgins, 22, after he was killed in Iraq days shy of returning home. Two years earlier, on Aug. 5, Linda Faulstich received word that her son, Army Spec. Raymond J. Faulstich Jr., 24, died in Iraq that day after his convoy was attacked.

The deaths forever altered their lives. Faulstich, 60, of Leonardtown said she often wondered whether there would come a time when she could be happy again.

When her son died, Faulstich said, friends stopped calling. People tried to avoid talking about her son. She even fell out of touch with her mother, who told her that talking to her dredged up memories of Raymond.

"I had a feeling people thought I was going overboard with it," Faulstich said.

What helped her cope were other parents in the same situation. She found that the only ones who could understand her plight were the mothers and fathers who had been through it themselves, losing a son or daughter to war.

Gold Star Family is a generic term to describe relatives of military personnel who died during service. When Faulstich would pick up the phone and call another Gold Star mother, there was no pretense, no emotions to struggle to explain.

"It's an exclusive club that no one wants to be eligible for," she said.
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Event connects Gold Star Families

Friday, July 23, 2010

2010 Weekend of Remembrance in Washington, D.C.

Honoring Service and Sacrifice
Families United is honored to invite our country's Gold Star Families—families who have lost a loved one in service to our country—to the 2010 Weekend of Remembrance in Washington, D.C. on July 23-24, 2010.

Gold Star Families from across the country will attend the 2010 National Weekend of Remembrance. See the weekend's events.

Become a sponsor and honor our nation's fallen and their families.

We're looking for volunteers to help at the 2010 Weekend of Remembrance.
Sign-up now to volunteer!
linked from Washington Post

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gold Star families gather at Fort Hood

Gold Star families gather at Fort Hood
FORT HOOD – Family by family, children walked down a short red carpet to a line of official-looking men. They were prodded or carried forward by moms, grandpas, grandmas and aunts as they heard their dads' names called aloud.

The children bowed their heads like those they watched before them and a gold medal was slipped around their necks.

Children from 35 families were awarded the Presidential Gold Medal of Remembrance Sunday morning at Fort Hood's Resiliency Campus. The medal, issued by the White House Commission on Remembrance, recognizes and honors children who lost parents who lost their lives in combat or after returning from combat in the Middle East and Afghanistan, according to information from the commission.

"It effectively reminds everyone that casualties are found on the home front as well as on the battlefield," read information from
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Monday, December 15, 2008

When will we honor all deaths of our warriors?

by Chaplain Kathie

When they die after vehicle accidents deployed into Iraq or Afghanistan, they are not really honored. The military says, it was just an accident. When they die from being transported, as in the case below, with a helicopter crash, again, it was just an accident. When they die because of the wound of PTSD that followed them home, they are not counted among those to be honored. We never did get that right.

While it would go a long way in eliminating the stigma of PTSD by honoring all of them, most of their names are buried as "death under investigation" and the families remain silent, believing they have something to be ashamed of. While researching the suicide video I created (now available by mail or in a Power Point form on my web site I found over 800 of their stories, but could only find a little over a hundred cases of confirmed suicides when the families spoke out. They knew the only thing to be ashamed of was that their sons and daughters did not get the treatment needed to stay alive.

The non-combat deaths are treated as if they would have died anyway from illnesses, (even though the illnesses were caused by deployment and exposures to environmental hazards like depleted uranium and the exposure to burn pit fumes along with drinking contaminated water) heart attacks brought on by stress, physical reactions to inoculations and medications, but the most telling statement of all is when they commit suicide because of PTSD. Even if we found all the names of the men and women that took their own lives, we still would not know all of them simply because some of the car crashes and motorcycle accidents are due to PTSD.

It is the opinion of the majority in this nation that if they are deployed into a combat zone and die while in the line of duty, they should be treated as if they died by the enemies' hand. They did their duty and did what was asked of them and the last thing we can do for them is to honor the lives lost equally, not ignore the fact that they were risking their lives for the sake of the rest of us.

While some will point out that Iraq had nothing to do with our security and evidence has shown this is a true statement, no one can argue the reason they served. They can only argue the reason they were sent. So push that out of your mind when it comes to them.

Lance Cpl. Darrell J. Schumann died with 30 others but they are not considered killed in action even though they died doing their duty.

When will we honor all deaths of our warriors?
Father wants son's name on memorial
Daily Press - Newport News,VA,USA

It was the greatest loss of life for the Marine Corps since the 1983 bombing of a barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, according to The Associated Press. But you won't see Darrell's name on the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond because the nature of his death doesn't qualify him to be recognized there.

A Hampton Marine's death in a 2005 helicopter crash in Iraq isn't considered a result of hostile action.
December 14, 2008
HAMPTON - — Rick Schumann's son, Darrell, was a heavy machine gunner in the Marine Corps who fought house-by-house street battles during the last months of 2004 in the rebel territory of Fallujah, Iraq.

In January 2005, his unit was scheduled to secure the Syrian-Iraqi border for the coming election in Iraq. After that, Lance Cpl. Darrell J. Schumann was scheduled to come home. In the early morning of Jan. 26, Schumann was with 29 Marines and a Navy medic who boarded a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter that took flight in the dark of night toward the Syrian border.

They never arrived.

The helicopter flew into a sandstorm and crashed, killing all 31 aboard — including Schumann, a former Colonial Williamsburg employee and student at Thomas Nelson Community College. He planned to return to Hampton when he finished his service with the Marines.

'Only died in accident'

In April of this year, Rick Schumann attended a bill signing at the memorial, which is a series of glass and concrete panels on a hill overlooking the James River in Richmond. Several state delegates were there, and so were "gold star" parents whose children have died in war.

Schumann looked at a list of names to be added to the memorial during an expansion in the next two years. He saw that Darrell's wasn't on the list and asked an employee why his son wasn't included. The employee directed him to the memorial's executive director, Jon C. Hatfield. Schumann said he showed Hatfield a copy of the Department of Defense-issued death certificate for his son.

Hatfield looked at the certificate, and "he said, 'He only died in an accident. It's wasn't like he was killed in action,'" Schumann recalled of his interaction with Hatfield.
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wounded Iraq war veteran's plight pushed talk show host into action

Phil Donahue's film inspiration
Wounded Iraq war veteran's plight pushed talk show host into action
By Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post Film Critic
Article Last Updated: 08/16/2008 11:19:59 AM MDT
It's a powerful scene in a film blessed — and, given the subject, cursed — with them.

In "Body of War," Tomas Young attends an anti-Iraq-war event. Members of Gold Star families reach out toward the man in a wheelchair.

"They can't take their hands off him," says Phil Donahue, who co-directed the film with documentary veteran Ellen Spiro. "For that moment, while they're holding a card or picture of their loved one in one hand — a loved one who was killed — with their other hand they're touching the warm face of Tomas Young."

Then the first-time filmmaker (but TV talk show legend) shares an insight he learned from Young's mother, Cathy, who figures prominently in the movie.

"For a moment, they're allowing themselves to believe they're touching the loved one they'll never touch again."

Donahue met Young at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Young had requested a meeting with Ralph Nader, who invited his friend along.

"He claims he remembers meeting me," says Donahue. "Boy, I would be surprised. He was totally whacked, medicated. As I stood at his bed looking down at this kid — he was 24 at the time — his mother explained the nature of his injuries. The first thing that goes through your head is, 'Why him, not me? What random fate brings this life-altering tragedy to a 24-year-old?' "

Young enlisted in the Army soon after the attacks of 9/11. The Kansan was 22. He arrived in Iraq in March 2004. On April 4, on his first mission, a bullet entered above his left collarbone, paralyzing him.

Donahue, who never made a feature film before, wasn't looking for a wounded soldier to build a movie around. Young forced him out of retirement.

"All I knew was I met a man at Walter Reed Hospital, and I wanted everybody to meet him. I wanted every American to meet him."
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sgt. Andrew Perkins remembered at Fort Bragg

All-American Week returns as 82nd Airborne mourns
By KEVIN MAURER | Associated Press Writer
2:07 PM EDT, May 21, 2008

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The return of the steady tromp of 16,000 jogging soldiers this week means the rhythm of life is right again at Fort Bragg, home to the Army's storied 82nd Airborne Division.

All-American Week is back at the base, a renewal of the 82nd's traditional homecoming that was canceled last year because the entire division was fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The celebration also provides a balm this year, which follows a particularly tough one for the division -- the 82nd lost 87 paratroopers in 2007. About 150 members of "Gold Star" families, relatives of those killed, are to join President Bush on Thursday for the division's review ceremony and a rededication of a growing granite memorial to the 82nd's fallen.

Among those to be remembered is Andrew Perkins, a 27-year-old sergeant whose father clings to the stories of his son's heroism in Samarra, north of Baghdad. How he grabbed the fire extinguisher. How he rushed into the explosion three times. How the equipment was melting in his hands before a second blast hit.

"I'd go to Samarra if I could just to stand on the same ground," Walter Perkins said.

He has come instead to Fort Bragg, to stand among the dozens of other fathers without sons, wives without husbands, children without parents.

"Did I come here to get some closure? Yep. Am I getting it? Yep. And it surprises me how easy it is coming to me," Perkins said. "It helps that I am talking to guys who knew him."

The 82nd Airborne's 87 fatalities last year are more than in any other year since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began. Three separate times in Iraq last year, seven or more paratroopers were killed at once. Sgt. Andrew Perkins died March 5 with six others outside of Samarra.

The paratroopers were on patrol when their lead truck hit a roadside bomb. The blast killed four of the paratroopers almost instantly. Perkins and two other paratroopers searched the flaming wreckage for survivors, a second bomb detonated -- killing them and wounding several others.
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