October 27, 2010
Today was one of the most memorable in my journey. It began with an early meeting with Alabama Gov Bob Riley. The governor was incredibly gracious and in awe of my accomplishments thus far. We had quite a lengthy chat about the states fallen heroes and the mission Honor and Remember. He and the state’s adjutant general put their complete support to my efforts and welcomed the opportunity to help continue the cause.
Following our meeting we walked out to the front steps of the capitol where a ceremony for Alabama fallen heroes was arranged. Sue Dahrouge and Marynell Winslow organized a tremendous event with full regalia. The governor, The Adjutant, active military, Patriot Guard Riders, News media and many many Gold Star families. It was a beautifully moving ceremony beginning with the governors comments, my mission message, flag presentations in honor of SPC Johnathon Milllican, 2007 Iraq and SFC James Bunn, 1968 Vietnam and concluding with a proclamation to Honor and Remember from the state.
Truly humbling and memorable experience as I was so warmly welcomed and accepted. This is one of the most calm and less stressed state capitols I have visited with not a guard or scanning machine in site. Interesting to visit and walk around unencumbered.
Following the ceremony the governor invited everyone inside the Capitol to view the Wall of Honor he had commissioned. Seven more names were added today. Then all of the families were invited to lunch provided by the state American Legion headquarters. This was a wonderful time of getting to know more closely each family and their sons, and continue to grow my amazing family.
Later I was taken to the home of Howard and Carol Payne where I will be spending the night. I was invited to the church for Wednesday night service, Vaughn Forest Baptist church, where to a congregation of over 200 I was able to share the message. The acceptance was overwhelming, as I have always believed that the churches were a wonderful place to bring a healing testimony.
Tomorrow: 200 mile drive to Atlanta, meetings and interviews.
October 26, 2010
I ended up last night parking inside Fort Rucker at the on base RV park at Lake Tholocco. It was a late arrival and I didn’t see much of the beautiful landscape. headed out early so there again wasn’t much time to enjoy. Unfortunately I spend alot of time catching up on journaling, emails and pictures. The SOS office on Ft Rucker through Beth Gunter arranged a lunch with several Gold Star families and base officials. It was an intimate time of sharing the message and learning more about each of these families loved ones. I added to my family today but for some reason had a difficult and emotional time sharing.
After lunch I headed toward Montgomery where I am spending he night at the home of Gold Star parents Vernon & Anne Adkins. It was a wonderful evening with some great Cajun comfort food. What a warm and sincere family and we share a sincere connection as we told stories of our sons and maybe a few tears.
Tomorrow: Capitol ceremony with the Governor, 10am.
October 25, 2010
Today on the steps of the Florida state capitol, Tallahassee, I was privileged to honor the family of LCDR Guy Houston, shot down while piloting a fighter over Vietnam Nov 10, 1969. With members of the Florida Patriot Guard Riders on hand and a proud flag line, LCDR Houston was represented by his widow, daughter, grandson and extended family. The venue was between the old and new capitol buildings and I was able to pull the RV right into the middle of the courtyard for a spectacular backdrop. Covered by every news station in the city we had a beautiful and moving ceremony that I hope will touch the lives of all who participated and will view.
Following the ceremony, I was able to meet with Veteran Affairs, Rep Williams, and the offices of Sen Nelson and Rep Boyd. State number 46 in the journey and finding continued support in the state of Florida. Moving 3 hours now to Ft Rucker Alabama for the night.
Getting closer to the end of my journey, just 17 days more. hard to believe all that has gone past. The emotional and physical strain sometimes daunting but always bearable. It has been a lonely journey not entirely planned for, often times unexpected. But I hope the mission will resonate for years to come. As Arlington nears I do hope that you continue the prayers for strength and that the next three weeks will be as powerful as the twenty behind me.
Tomorrow: Meetings on Ft Rucker
October 24, 2010
I was invited to speak at Restoration Place, a non-denominational church in Tallahassee. Pastor Ledford, a friend of pastor Wes in Pensacola and had arranged for my sharing this morning in two services. The message was very well received and the congregation of over 1,000 was extremely supportive. I thank the pastor for the opportunity to share his pulpit in this most humbling way.
Tomorrow: Ceremony at the state capitol 10am.
October 23, 2010
Saturday was the day for a special ceremony at Hurlburt Field in honor of the 17 combat controllers who lost their lives since 9/11. It was a beautifully organized event by the Combat Controller association. Many Gold Star families attended as well as hundreds of Air Force controllers and officers. Following we took a tour of the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron where many of the sons were assigned.
I needed to move on toward Tallahassee today so had a final meal with my friends and then headed East. Panama City was my interim stop with Rep Patronis before continuing. Three hours later I settled in Tallahassee.
Tomorrow: Church Service, Restoration Place
October 22, 2010
Friday. I stayed last night in a condo on the beach with Deb and Todd. Woke up to a gorgeous view of the Gulf and we headed to Waffle House for late breakfast, also with Johnny, Deb’s son and Lindsey, his girlfriend. Waffle house is one of their favorite places, since they don’t have them in CA. Today was a free day and in the afternoon I took the RV over to the Emerald Grande the host hotel for the Florida state HOG rally. I hoped to park and work on gaining some extra awareness, since I had been well received at these rallys in different states on my trip. I also hoped to connect with the PGR members I met last night. However parking was limited and I was not able to secure a spot, even with help from head of security, so I wasn’t able to stay long. I do think we should put this event and others like it on our schedule for future years.
I did meet up with my new friends over at my hotel and had a great opportunity to share. They were very excited about the mission and took alot of literature and product back with them to the rally for me. They also planned on spreading the word throughout their areas. Other veterans started coming out of the hotel and signing the petition, so it was interesting to gain some attention even in the parking lot.
later that evening I was invited to a shrimp boil with my new Gold star friends, at the extended family of Deb and Todd. Great evening of fellowship. whew still more left in the night we then went to Coasters to participate in a Combat control tradition and then off again to a Controller reunion witch took us into the wee hours of the night. Way past my bedtime.
Tomorrow: Special memorial service for the 17 Combat Controllers killed since 9/11.
- Beautiful day in Baton Rouge, ceremony was awesome. Everyone wonderful. Tonight moved on to Pensacola FL. See intinerary. #
- WEAR ABC 3 :: Top Stories – A Symbol To Remember Lost Service Men And Women http://t.co/nZ2QtEt via @AddThis #
- View from the condo at Ft Walton beach I woke up to. Amazing blessing, had no idea what was out the window. http://twitpic.com/2zsu94 #
October 21, 2010
Today was the Special Ops Warrior Foundation walk concluding ceremony. The walk included 800 miles from San Antonio to Hurlburt Field in honor of the 15 Combat Controllers killed while serving in the war on terror. My friends the Bastion’s son Derek was among those casualties . As well as my friends from Virginia, the Jeffersons. Bill and Linda lost their son, Kristy her husband Will in Iraq march of 2008 and had traveled from Norfolk to Florida for the ceremony. Many participated in the last 12, 5 and 1 mile increments. I was able to follow in the bus and have it visible during the ending event. It was an honor to participate in this walk and share in the tribute to so many brave warriors and their families.
During an open break in the event I was able to take an hour and visit a local hero, former POW George Day. What an honor and privilege to meet this man who so successfully survived 6 year s in the Hanoi Hilton. A true inspiration to me and when I shared the vision was completely supportive of the flag and my cause. See pictures.
This evening was spent at a social with the Special Ops families, while at the restaurant I noticed the Florida state HOG association was also there. I began to engage some of the members and will meet over at their hotel tomorrow.
Tomorrow: Florida state HOG rally
October 20, 2010
A truly rewarding day began with my dropping off the Beast off to a local RV dealership, Carpenters Campers. I had experienced no air conditioning or heat for quite some time, seems it was Arizona. I had a free day to have it checked out and this particular place was recommended. Initially I thought that I perhaps needed a recharge but on closer evaluation noticed that the entire housing unit had broken and detached itself from the engine wall and was hanging free. This was not a good thing. The shop informed me that we would need to order a new housing unit and it would take several days. Not having the time for this I was going to be stuck with a non working unit.
I went off to my next stop, a meeting with the Command Master Chief of NAS Pensacola. I was very well received by his office and was able to share the message and get a commitment from him to share up the chain of command.
I stopped by Congressmen Jeff Miller’s office and have received his full support. He is on the Armed Forces committee and vowed to have this moved forward in the next session. While there, local station CBS 3 caught up with me for an on camera interview.
I headed back to the camper shop and Mark the owner had arranged to fix the broken box, replace my windshield wipers, give it a bath and fix several other items that were hampering me, all at no charge. This man was a heaven sent angel, and I was on my way by 530. A good thing because at 6pm I was scheduled to speak at a local church “My Father’s Vineyard”. I had met Pastor Wes Alvarez while in Amarillo Texas last month and he had invited me to stop by his church on my way through Pensacola. He was extremely supportive and allowed me to speak to his congregation for nearly an hour. I was truly blessed by the opportunity to share the vision to so supporting a congregation and thankful to the pastor for his willingness to open his pulpit to me.
After the service I headed south to Ft Walton Beach for the night, meeting up with my friends the Bastions from California and staying at the home of Sue and Pete Servais.
Tomorrow: Special Ops warrior foundation walk.
October 19, 2010
Today is OPEN and yet to reveal itself. Resting, catchup and dinner with friends, Will, Jessica and Jayla
Tomorrow: Church Service, meeting at NAS Pensacola
October 18, 2010
Coming into the state this weekend there was very little planned, our contacts disappeared and I was completely in the dark. With that said today was absolutely amazing. Louisiana has turned out way beyond any expectations. Janet put her Blue Star moms to work and we had a terrific ceremony, including the Sec of Veteran Affairs. Also attending, three television stations and an audience of blue and gold star families, veterans, supporters and in general many patriotic Americans. The event took place directly outside on the steps of the Capitol and although I didn’t feel I communicated at my best today, the message was very well received. The ceremony concluded with a special personalized flag presentation to Jill Puckett, Gold Star mom who lost her son Jon Bowman in Iraq October 9, 2006. Accompanying her was her husband Dennis and son Logan.
Following the presentation, I was taken to the Senate Chambers where they were holding a joint budget committee meeting. They took a short break and after a brief introduction each legislator signed my pledge of support. Thirty signatures, the most from any state so far.
We then proceeded to the governors mansion where we were all hosted with light refreshments and the opportunity to fellowship as a group. See posted photos. We all gathered for lunch at a local restaurant to continue sharing and then I was off on a five hour drive to Pensacola on the next leg of the journey.
It seems I hardly get to stay put before I must move forward, keeping the demanding schedule to reach Arlington on November 11th at 2pm. Today was a good day! Thanks Janet and the Blue and Gold Star families.
Tomorrow: Figuring out Pensacola.
October 17, 2010
Today was actually an outstanding day. This morning I was invited to speak at Zoar Baptist Church in Central LA. Pastor Kevin Hand graciously allowed me time to share from his pulpit in both of his morning services. It was a humbling opportunity to share a portion of my spiritual as well as physical journey. The message was very well received and the congregation exceptionally supportive. I was not aware until the service ended that there were two Gold Star families in attendance. It was most certainly my honor to meet and share with them one on one.
Keith Burnham, a blue star marine dad, had driven me to church and now took me over to Janet B’s house where Blue Star moms were packing care boxes for the soldiers. This was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. After a while several Gold Star families came by and before long the house was filled with a great time of fellowship and Gumbo. I was able to share more fully the story of my journey and this was a great supportive group to get to know. My thanks to Janet and Floyd for the warmth and hospitality.
Tomorrow: Personalized flag presentation LA State Capitol 10am. Then off to Pensacola.
- Its Honor and Remember day in Jacksonville, AR http://twitpic.com/2xbi8f #
- Are there any GS families near Jackson MS that would like to meet? Please let me know as soon as possible. Thanks #
- Now pulling into Mississippi. State number 44! http://twitpic.com/2xlln0 #
- I have an open weekend in Baton Rouge. Looking for speaking opps including Sunday church. Please contact me. #
- Any gold star families in the Baton R aRea please contact me. #
October 16, 2010
OPEN Day in Baton Rouge, Lunch with Blue Star mom Patsy who gave me a tour around the city and the state capitol.
October 15, 2010
Headed to Jackson today to a bit of the unknown. We have not had a solid point of contact in the state and subsequently do not have a personalized flag presentation or any appointments scheduled. I had my team working on making last minute arrangements and some contacts have been made with supporters who live in the area. By 830am I had an appointment at the office of US Senator Cochran from there I moved to the capitol where I interviewed with local FOX 40. Click Here!
I was met at the capitol by three supporters who accompanied me to knock on a few doors. USN Shane Mandale, Mike Boyd from PGR and Mike Bostic from the MS tea party. We were aided by Janet in the Legislative Assembly and by 1pm had gained the support of two House members and two State Senators. In addition had an opportunity to meet with the executive director of the Veterans council.
The day went quite well in Jackson and was punctuated with a surprise chance meeting with a SC representative I have been corresponding with. He had introduced legislation last spring in SC for Honor and Remember. He now works for the President and I had been talking to his father yesterday about arranging a meeting. Out of the blue he walks up to me in Jackson because he had seen the RV. Absolutely one in a million chance meeting. Neither of us had any idea of our MS plans.
Headed to Baton Rouge, after a fellowship lunch, for the weekend.
Tomorrow: OPEN weekend in Baton Rouge.
October 14, 2010
Today begins another long drive, 6 hours to Jackson. So far nothing has opened up in MS so i will ask you to pray that my trip through this state is successful. Today also is Tony’s son Anthony’s birthday. He is 8 and was 3 when his dad was killed in Dec of 2005. In very different ways I miss them so much. Anthony is the spitting image of his dad, and I see so much of him as he grows. He is great at computer games and not yet into sports. I don’t think he has that competitive nature, but I did teach him to play chess, which he likes. I am looking forward to my return when I can spend time with all of the grandchildren again. The holidays will be awesome.
Tomorrow: MS state capitol 10am
October 13, 2010
Today was a most excellent day. Fran Marshall had scheduled a press conference on the steps of the state capitol at 10am so we headed downtown as soon as we were ready. Since we had arrived early and still no word from the governors office, we decided to go inside and knock on his door. There is always a chance something will work out and prayer can open many doors. So up to his office we went and sure enough within 10 minutes I was face to face with Gov Beebe. He was extremely gracious and attentive to the cause and gave his full support to the flag. See posted pictures.
The 10 am press conference ended up with a very small crowd so we decided to take the group over to the Jacksonville Museum of Military History for the 11am ceremony. DannaKay arranged a beautiful venue at the museum and many guests were in attendance. Representatives from Rolling Thunder, patriot guard, American legion, VFW, the state legislature and included the Arkansas Adjutant General. The mayor of Jacksonville read a proclamation and declared it Honor and Remember Day in the city. It was a terrific ceremony on a gorgeous day with the best conclusion, a personalized flag presentation to Gold Star Dad Rob Hopper, In tribute to his son Brian, killed in Iraq January 2005. Rob began Arkansas Fallen heroes memorial a few years ago and has created an incredible moving field to honor the states heroes. It was a sincere honor to remember Brian today.
This evening I was privileged to speak at the Wednesday service of Bingham Road Baptist Church. This is the home church of the Marshall family and the congregation has named the family life center for their son Brad. It was another blessed opportunity to spread the message in one more venue. The congregation was very receptive and I thank the pastor for allowing me time in his pulpit.
Tomorrow: Travel day to Jackson MS, Nothing planned as of yet – OPEN
October 12, 2010
Tuesday begins my meetings in Little Rock. I started the day by meeting with DannaKay Duggar, director of the Military Museum in Jacksonville, AR She has arranged for the HR flag presentation tomorrow at the museum 11am. At 10:30 this morning she arranged for me to speak at the Little Rock Military advisors committee meeting. A group of nearly 30 from all areas of military organizations including military personnel. A great opportunity to share to like minded individuals that understand the message. Hopefully some will attend tomorrows ceremony.
This evening I drove to the home of Wayne and Fran Marshall, Gold Star parents of Brad Marshall killed July 31, 2007. They have invited me to stay a couple of days while I am visiting the area. Brads wife Gina came by this evening and we had a wonderful dinner sharing stories and reminiscing about our hero kids. Another terrific family with deep love of God and country, it is such an honor and truly humbling experience to spend time in their home.
Tomorrow: State Capitol press conference 10am, Military Museum flag ceremony 11am.
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