Founder’s Message – Tribute
Before I address recent events, I want to take this opportunity to speak from the heart about why Honor and Remember exists. As long as America continues to be “one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all,” there will be a price to pay for that freedom. Unfortunately, that price is the lives of young men and women who stand on the front lines to defend those values, not only for Americans but also for freedom loving people around the world.
There are no words, no accolades, no gifts that will ever alleviate the pain of the loss experienced by the families of the fallen. There will always be a hole that can never be filled in the lives of parents, spouses, children and friends of those who didn’t come home. Yet all of us can do something to show our gratitude for and acknowledge our indebtedness to men and women who have given all for our nation. We can choose to honor and remember them.
This month provided a tragic reminder that not all who die in military service lose their lives on the battlefield. The attack at Ft. Hood is a sobering and powerful reminder that the men and women of our military put themselves in harms way the moment they decide to serve their country. Some die in accidents or other circumstances not directly related to battle. But all should be remembered for their commitment. That’s why Honor and Remember is important.
The Honor and Remember Flag is meant to serve as a tangible reminder to devote even a few moments to reflect with gratitude and respect on the cost of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
Please join me in giving tribute to these 13 men and women from Ft. Hood who gave their lives for each of us. CWO Michael Cahill, Maj. Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, SSgt. Justin DeCrow, Capt. John Gaffaney, SPC Frederick Greene, SPC Jason Hunt, Sgt. Amy Krueger, Pfc. Aaron Nemelka, Pfc. Michael Pearson, Capt. Russell Seager, Pvt. Francheska Velez, Lt Col Juanita Warman, Pfc. Kham Xiong.
Within the last two days, I have received emails from two sources that are willing to donate the funds for personalized Honor and Remember Flags for each of the Ft. Hood families. Naturally, we have not attempted to contact the families to be able to make presentations, but we will work with our contacts to determine the most respectful and appropriate opportunity to do so. If you are in touch with any of these families or they are in your community please contact me.
My blessings go out to the Gold Star families reading this whose hearts are also breaking, knowing what these new families are experiencing. We can do nothing to change the events that led to this tragedy. But we can commit in our own way to pay tribute to those who died and to their families.
Sign the Petition ~ Share the Vision ~ Fly the Flag
Our Hero’s Story
With all the attention focused on the financial markets recently, the stories that exemplify the greatness of America and its people have gone by the wayside. One such story is far too important to be lost in the frenzy.
Not long ago, in El Paso, Texas, a new A-Star helicopter was dedicated and placed into service. And while that might not seem like a big deal to many of us, it was. This helicopter bore a seal with the name Robert F. Smith and his call sign, X-Ray 8014, inscribed upon it. This seal is to remain assigned to and displayed on this CBP aircraft for the entirety of its service.
This is only the second time in our country’s history such an honor has been bestowed by our government. A special event indeed. It is with a great sense of responsibility that I introduce the man for which this honor was bestowed.
Robert F. Smith Jr. was a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He attended and graduated from Penn State University in 1982. In 1983 he enrolled in the Navy Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, where he was commissioned as an ensign and received his Naval Aviator’s wings in August of that year. He flew fixed wing jets and helicopters with the Navy for the next eight years and even appeared as an extra in one of my all time favorite movies, “Top Gun.”
Following the Gulf war, Bob was discharged from the Navy and became a pilot with the U.S. Customs Service. For the next 16 years he served on special drug interdiction missions in Central and South America, supported airspace security in Washington, D.C. and flew rescue missions in hurricane Katrina. By any account, Bob’s life was about service to a country and a people he loved very much.
On May 22, 2007 (two days before his 47th birthday), Bob was flying a recognizance mission near El Paso, Texas, when he spotted three illegal aliens crossing the border. He radioed the Border Patrol on the ground, and they arrested the three men. At that moment, a stone, bullet or something similar hit the tail of his helicopter and it began spinning out of control.
He was only about 200 feet in the air, so Bob could have set down safely in a yard below, but he saw three small children playing. Bob made an instant “life” decision and somehow got his helicopter high enough to get over the roof of one more building and took it down into a truck parked in a lot. He turned at the last second so that his passenger was above, hanging in his straps. His fellow pilots don’t know how he did it. The passenger survived, but Bob, hitting first, was killed instantly. The mother of those children was watching from her back porch and thought her children were gone.
It is no surprise to those who knew Bob that he would put others safety ahead of his own. His life was about serving a cause greater than himself. Indeed a great personal trait in the world today.
In his speech to the nation on immigration, May 29, 2007, President Bush said:
“Before I say anything about immigration, I want to tell you about an American hero, Robert Smith … Realizing that four people are alive today as a result of one man giving his ultimate sacrifice, The U.S. Customs Service D.H.S., for only the second time in history, has permanently emblazoned Helicopter N852BP with the CBP Memorial Insignia: ROBERT F.SMITH X-RAY 8014. In his honor and memory, AIA Smith’s CBP call sign will remain assigned to him and displayed on a CBP aircraft forevermore.”
On a few rare occasions in my life I have had the distinct honor to meet or talk to the families behind such great men as Robert F. Smith Jr. Each time I realize that the sense of service in heroes is birthed at an early age by moms and dads who love God, love their family and love this great nation.
NOTE: Honor and Remember is looking for positive stories about the young men and women who have died serving our country. We would like to share them in this newsletter and on a special page on our web site. The stories should be about 300-400 words in length and contain insights that capture the individual’s personality and celebrate their life and honor their experiences in service, etc. We want to present a snapshot of our young heroes … who they were and how those who loved them remember. Photos are welcome. Please send to email@example.com
Why I’m on Board – Bill Fediw
I have known George and Patricia for almost 20 years. Our kids grew up together. I have always known the Lutzes to be a family that gave and shared what they had. Most of all, they brought meaning to the unit known as family. As a result, when Tony was killed, all I knew to do was to come and grieve with this family and not offer any empty words. There is no possible way I could feel the depth of their loss, and yet, through it all, you could feel a sense off pride in the fact that this young man died doing what he did, so we could live in this great country and be free to do what we do. I think all the Gold Star families may understand what I’m saying.
My parents left everything they had to escape communism, and it is because of this that I know the price of my freedom. For me, the purpose of Honor and Remember is not only to acknowledge and remember the fallen, but also to remind those left behind that freedom isn’t free and that the cost was very dear. Each flag is an opportunity to tell the story again and again, and remind our citizens of the cost of their freedom, and even the abuse of it.
We must help Honor and Remember succeed because your stories are a national treasure. It is for this reason that I would draw your attention to a unique source of support. In these hard economic times it’s challenging enough to meet our own obligations, and as a result, it becomes more difficult to support the causes and organizations we believe in. This creates a ripple effect. To offset this trend I have introduced to the organization, a new and unique, free web portal, Blastoff, that pays you to use it, and as you get blessed the organization gets blessed. My effort is to tell others about it so they can get their own free page. I would encourage everyone to at least explore the link because it is not the same old “dig deeper, brother” platform. Rather, it puts the supporters first and helps the organization with a minimal of effort.
News and Upcoming Events
October and November were extremely busy with many personalized flag presentations scheduled throughout both months. Please watch our home page for additional information.
October 21st – FRA National Convention, Virginia Beach, VA. Flag Presentation – Family of Sgt Jayton D. Patterson ~ 15 Jan 2005 ~ Iraq
October 25th – Victory Life Church, Hampton, VA. Flag Presentation – Family of CW2 Ian D. Manuel ~ 8 Jan 2004 ~ Iraq
November 4-5 – New York City trip – The trip was an amazing opportunity to gain national awareness. With a small contingent, we were able to reach the hosts of the Today show, including Al Roker’s mention of our website before the weather. The Bill O’Reilly show was next as we were again mentioned on FOX news and one of our most positive experiences was onboard the USS New York.
November 6 – Cave Spring HS, Roanoke, VA – Flag presentation – Family of SSG Jesse G. Clowers Jr ~ 12 Aug 2007 ~ Afghanistan
November 7 – We presented personalized flags to five families, representing a loss from each branch of the U.S. military. Today we gave tribute to DC3 Nate Bruckenthal ~ 24 April 2004 ~ Iraq, Cpl Joshua S. Harmon ~ 22 Aug 2007 ~ Iraq, Lt Brendan J. Duffy ~ 8 Nov 1998 ~ U.S. Navy, LCpl Kelly E.C. Watters ~ 11 June 2008 ~ Iraq, TSgt William H. Jefferson Jr ~ 21 March 2008 ~ Afghanistan.
November 11 – Regent University veterans program with Honor and Remember Flag dedication.
Flag Presentation to the family of SSG Jonathan K. Dozier ~ 9 Jan 2008 ~ Iraq. This was covered and broadcast by CBN News.
The 2010 calendar is now filling with ceremonies, trade shows, festivals and presentations. If you would like to consider Honor and Remember in your planning for the year, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, this summer we are planning a national awareness bus tour and would be privileged to include your event in our schedule if possible. Please write soon to be considered.
If you know of a company or individual who would be willing to either donate the use of a tour bus and/or the painting of a graphic wrap, let us know. It’s time to bring this mission to the people. Thank you!
This is in remembrance of a good friend of my family’s Dennis J. Pratt, who lost his life serving his country, in Afganistan, on July 20, 2009. He was due home the following Monday for 2 weeks of r&r with his family and friends. All of his family and friends miss him dearly….. (Anadarko, Oklahoma)
I lost my brother to the Vietnam War and have been going through a healing process for the last 40 years. I pray for all soldiers. Those now serving, those who have returned and those who (like my brother) have given their lives for our freedom. In memory of Lance Corporal John Weisbrod, USMC 5/13/1969.(Massillon, Ohio)
I also saw the group on the “Today” show this morning and wanted more information on the organization. My family came very close to losing my cousin in Iraq 2 years ago. Fortunately he is doing very well now! Our town has just recently lost one of our members in Afghanistan. He was and is our hero. He and all those who have served this great nation should be honored and remembered. I thank you for your efforts. (North Attleboro, MA)
Just heard about your site on FOX, what a wonderful way to honor those who have fallen while serving our country. God Bless from a grateful Gold Star Mother. (Wilmington, MA)