June 2013 Newsletter



For years I have been on a Campaign to reclaim Memorial Day and have purposed to educate and encourage people to go back to the reason that we as a Nation set apart Memorial Day. It is a solemn remembrance of our heroes through the centuries who sacrificed their lives on the battlefield for the freedoms we enjoy every day.

I have made suggestions of ways Americans could do this and thought I would share with you how this past weekend I remembered and honored those who gave everything for me.

My weekend started Friday afternoon with a presentation at the Colonade Retirement Community in Surprise, AZ. The majority of the crowd was prior Vets and as I shared Marc’s heroic story, there were many teary-eyed listeners, trying to contain their emotions. As I spoke about Memorial Day and looked into their eyes it was if a window to their souls had opened. They were thinking of their buddies whose names were on a Memorial Wall and had not returned home from Korea or Vietnam. No reminder was needed for them to Honor and Remember; they carried that loss with them every day.

Saturday morning found me on a flight to Austin, Texas to speak at Lake Hills Church, where Governor Perry attends. The last time I was in Austin was to bury Chris Kyle, one of Marc’s teammates who was like a son to me. In route from the airport to the hotel I stopped at Texas Memorial Cemetery to visit Chris’ grave and place flowers there. It had been raining and the grounds were wet and there was a freshness in the air.

 

Grave Site of Hero Navy SEAL Chris Kyle

It is so hard to explain the first time you go back to visit the grave after you have buried a loved one. I knew that I wanted to stay for a bit, but the ground was wet. I stood and just remembered what a gift Chris was to me and how he chose to honor Marc, his fallen brother and take care of his Mother. I wanted to be closer so I sat on the soaked ground. The tears began to flow, knowing that not just Chris’ family, his teammates or I had lost a special man, but that it was all of America’s loss.

It encouraged my heart to see people who didn’t seem to be visiting a specific person wandering through the cemetery and reading names on headstones in the military section. “Yes” I thought this is one of the things I have encouraged people to do on Memorial Day weekend to remember the sacrifices.

I didn’t have the chance at Chris’ funeral to wander through the cemetery so I took the time to do that. There were seven Medal of Honor Recipients, a Memorial to the Texas Gold Star Mothers, and heroes from every conflict who had been killed in Action. It was a beautiful peaceful place with little creeks, big oaks and untold volumes of history of heroes waiting to be told.

Sunday morning I spoke at Lake Hills Church in both services and shared Marc’s heroic story and my faith in Christ that has given me the strength to carry on in the midst of the toughest pain I will ever know. I reminded people what Memorial Day was about and encouraged them to teach their children.

I jumped on a flight that afternoon to Dallas and was picked up by Kevin another one of my “adopted boys.” His family was in Texas for the week, to honor and remember Chris’ and check in on Chris’ family. We headed to a nearby park where the Carry the Load event was being hosted by another former SEAL.

People were walking and running in several different cities with backpacks, symbolizing carrying their fallen loved ones, teammates or friends who had sacrificed their lives serving our country. Chris” parents and brother were there and we had planned to meet up. In the midst of pain and loss bonds between families of the fallen produces an instant connection. Knowing the loss of a son is not the reason we wished would have brought us together, but it brings comfort to know someone else understands. We greeted them as they finished their first 7 mile loop in memory of their son. About midnight that evening after I changed my heels for tennis shoes, I walked a 7 mile loop with Kevin to honor Marc, each SEAL who fell and on behalf of every Mother who has lost a son in combat.


Debbie Lee at the Dallas Carry the Load Remembrance Event

Kevin and I then jumped in our vehicle and drove about 40 miles to where another SEAL and “adopted son,” Ryan Parrot was running 100 miles in a 24 hour period to honor and remember the fallen. He was at 56 mile point and the experienced marathoner who was running with him had gone into kidney failure and had to be taken to the hospital. This was discouraging for Ryan and we were going for moral support and Kevin had decided spontaneously he would run the last 30 miles with Ryan. No preparation, and after an intense weight workout and a 7 mile walk earlier that evening. These SEALs are a rare breed that’s for sure.

Ryan was in the RV receiving medical attention when we arrived and he didn’t look good at all. He saw me and in exhaustion with as much exuberance as he could muster said “Momma Lee.” It was at that point that I saw a little spark in his eye. We were just the moral boost that he needed. I was pleased that I had done 7 miles, I can’t imagine 70 let alone 100 miles. I am proud to tell you that Ryan finished the 100 miles.


Ryan Parrot Honors the Fallen with His Grueling 100 Mile Run

Throughout the day on Monday I received numerous texts and emails with pictures of Marc’s headstone attached as friends and teammates visited Marc’s grave to remember the amazing man he was and how he had impacted the lives of so many. I am so grateful for all of those who friends and patriots who let me know they remembered Marc and would never forget his sacrifice.

Monday afternoon I was honored to attend with Chris’ family the dedication of the American Legion in Midlothian, Chris’ hometown, to the Chris Kyle Post. Another one of those bittersweet moments, as we would much rather have our loved ones with us than to have their name on a Memorial Wall, building, movie or book. Yet if we have heroes who sacrifice so much we must honor them and keep their memories alive. We owe it to them.

Dedication of the Chris Kyle American Legion Post
in Midlothian, Texas with the Kyle Family

I trust that most of you purposed to do something this past weekend to honor and remember those who gave their final breath for you. If not I would challenge you next year to establish new habits that will “Remember and Honor” not celebrate Memorial Day.

 

Remembering their Sacrifice,
Gold Star Mom Debbie Lee


Troop Tweets

Are you on Twitter? Follow us @M_A_F to share your story, let others know how to donate and even request a care packages to be sent out for you. Stay informed on the latest news.  Use the #SOT and #CarePackage hashtags to let everyone know how to help.

So go ahead and tweet us a troop picture or support message @M_A_F and you just might find your tweet featured in one of our upcoming newsletter!


Calling all Troops!

Signing up to receive packages is easy!

If you are deployed or have the address of a deployed military member, you can click here for our Military Sign Up Center to sign them up to receive one of our great care packages loaded with plenty of the TLC our soldiers need to remind them that people back home support their mission.

If you prefer, copy this link ( http://www.moveamericaforward.org/soldier-sign-up/ ) and e-mail it to your soldier so they can sign up themselves. Once the soldier has registered they’ll be eligible to receive packages and messages of support from caring Americans like you.

St. Mary’s 5th Grade Students Honor our Deployed Troops

At St. Mary’s School in Los Gatos, CA, Outreach is an important component of their curriculum.  Typically most of their outreach activities involve helping out the local community in some positive way.  However, for one of their projects this year, St. Mary’s 5th grade class decided to reach to be a little further.  “We wanted to let the brave servicemen and women still fighting to protect our freedom know that we have not forgotten them…that we are keeping them in our thoughts…and praying for their safe return home to their family and friends.  We wanted to make cards to show them our appreciation and what better organization to make this happen than MAF!” said class mom Sue Bozzini. Sue contacted us at Move America Forward and we agreed to include the beautiful hand-made cards with our Memorial Day Care Packages being sent to the troops – the perfect opportunity to show the troops how much the students at St. Mary’s care!




This wasn’t just a last minute effort on the 5th grade’s part either, “We set aside time for 4 weeks to work on our cards.  While the students were creating their cards, we asked them three questions:

1)    Why are we doing this?

2)    Why is this important?

3)    How does this project make you feel?

Their answers truly blew us away!” said Bozzini.  “The students could not stop raising their hands to give us their thoughts and opinions.”  In the words of the students:

Why are we doing this? ” So the troops can feel they have not been forgotten; we know their families are worried, we want them to do their best – to know they have our support; they are making a difference – they are not doing this for nothing; they are risking their lives to save people they don’t even know; I want to bring a smile to their faces – there’s a reason they are doing what they’re doing; we don’t want them to feel lonely; we’re supporting them; for America!”!

Why is this important?  ” It makes them feel appreciated – they are taking this huge risk away from their family and friends; help keep their spirits up; help them remember why they are there; it’s the right thing to do; it’s what God wants us to do; provide comfort to them while they’re away from home; puts things into perspective for me – we all have bad days but at home we are safe but the troops are always in danger; it makes me feel so fortunate; it’s like a ‘un’ birthday for a soldier  – an unexpected surprise gift; if they don’t know that people care, they might just give up – but, if we show them WE care, hopefully that will motivate them to keep going!”

How does it make you feel to write these letters?  ” It makes me feel good inside; makes me feel happy; makes me feel good but bad too because I feel greedy – I have so much and they are sacrificing so much; puts a smile on my face thinking I’m putting one on theirs; I like envisioning someone else reading my card; makes me want to do something more knowing that every little thing makes a difference; motivates me; I feel really good knowing I’ve done something good; and finally, it makes me feel a little important – like maybe this could be the one thing that keeps them going!”

“Our 5th grade class wants to extend a HUGE thank you to our troops and to MAF for giving us this opportunity to show the troops how much we care! Land of the Free because of the Brave…God Bless America!!” concluded Bozzini.

Although we have already shipped out our care packages containing the special cards from the students of St. Mary’s, it’s not  too late to take the time to send a  package (hot link this with newsletter ordering tag) to a soldier still waiting for a gift  from home with your own special message of love and support.

 

Troopathon 6 adds Governor Mike Huckabee and
Breitbart Editor Larry O’Connor as Hosts!

We are excited to announce  Governor Mike Huckabee and Larry.O’Connor will join our long-time hosts Move America Forward co-founder & San Francisco radio talk show great Melanie Morgan and Gold Star Mom and Move America Forward’s own  Debbie Lee to host the 8-hour Troopathon 6 broadcast live from  the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Orange County. California!

Past Troopathon events have raised over $3.6 million for our troops. Last year, Troopathon raised over $500,000 but we’d like to break that total this year!!

You can view the live stream at www.troopathon.org on June 27th!

Live will kick off with returning host Melanie Morgan and her co-hosts. We’re still in the process of lining up this year’s guests, but you can be sure there will be some great names like past year’s guest list which included Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight and syndicated radio and television host Rush Limbaugh.

Gold Star mom, Debbie Lee will be returning to share her story about her son Marc Lee – Marc was the first Navy Seal to die during the war in Iraq. She has dedicated her life to supporting our troops and has done so with dignity and patriotism. Learn more about what Debbie is up to now in  our “Debbie’s Corner” monthly  newsletter feature..

Don’t forget to check out how you can win a Stag Arms AR-15 Rifle in our Troopathon 6 Sweepstakes

Life can be busy, so remember to save the date now! We will be sending out emails, posting on Facebook, and Tweeting to keep you posted as we line up this year’s  exciting guest list, so if you haven’t already, add us on Facebook and Twitter now. And as always, thank you for standing behind our troops and offering them the support they deserve!

Move America Forward is offering a FREE GUN GIVEAWAY to help promote our Troopathon fundraiser for the troops. This is an exciting new way to really spread the word about Troopathon by giving people an incentive – a chance to win a free AR rifle from STAG ARMS one of the leading tactical rifle manufacturers in the world!

PLEASE HELP US by blogging about this on your own websites and social media followings! Sign yourself up, and get everyone who follows you to sign up! Then tune in on June 27th to see who wins and also to see how much money we can raise to support our troops in Afghanistan!

Here’s the link to our entry form page: http://www.troopathon.org/sweepstakes

 

Let’s Hear it for the Red, White and Blue!

Friday June 14th is National Flag Day, let’s remember to show our pride by flying Old Glory at our homes and business establishments. As our way of celebrating  Flag Day, Move America Forward will include an enamel  United States Flag lapel pin with each package ordered on that day and with all of our Father’s Day packages.

Hat’s Off to You Dad!

Ask any service man how many milestone events in their lives they have missed due to deployment and without batting an eye, you will hear tales from these dads who have missed the birth of a child, countless birthdays and anniversaries, graduations and holiday’s like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Sure, you might detect the wistful look in their eye as they recount the wonder of meeting their child for the first time after a long hard tour away from home, but you will also note the unmistakable tone of satisfaction which comes only from knowing that their sacrifice makes a difference. Many of our Deployed Dads will be celebrating Father’s Day alone this year, and for some it may be their very first Father’s Day as a dad.

They are proud to do their job, making sure their kids and everyone else’s are being watched over and protected by the greatest troops the world has ever known.

Let’s make sure these brave dads are looked after too!  We are delighted to announce our FATHER’S DAY care packages are ready to order on our website!

Don’t wait!  Father’s Day is June 15th and we want to make sure these brave heroes will have a package in hand to remind them how much they are appreciated! You will even be able to include your own heart-felt message of support!

Join us in Honoring our Dads this Father’s Day!.

HMH 461 Sends Thanks for their Package

May Newsletter 2013

Shout out to our Moms!

So Many of our Deployed Moms will be celebrating with only a dog-eared photo of their children at hand as they serve far from home this year.

They are proud to do their job, making sure their kids and everyone else’s are being watched over and protected by the greatest troops the world has ever known.

Let’s make sure these brave moms are looked after too! We are delighted to announce our MOTHER’S DAY care packages are ready to order on our website!

Don’t wait! Mother’s Day is May 12th and we want to make sure these super-moms will have a package in hand to remind them how much they are appreciated! You will even be able to include your own heart-felt message of support!

Our military Moms know the meaning of SACRIFICE better than anyone, so join us thanking them this Mother’s Day!

Thanks to All Who Supported Wounded Warrior Care Packages

This past month MAF started a special program to reach out to our wounded warriors returning home.

We have developed a care package that contains the essentials for personal hygiene, grooming, and extras to help incoming patients receiving treatment.

Our Wounded Warrior Care Packages come in a durable, flame retardant “Cinch Bag” filled to the brim with items Walter Reed and the VA has requested. The Care Pack also has a special compartment keeps important hospital paper work separate from the rest of the bag.

Each bag contains essentials they will need like high quality hospital socks for cold floors, 10 piece oral care kits, toothpaste, non-alcoholic mouthwash, deodorant, lip balm, and other approved personal hygienic items. We also include a deck of professional playing cards, candy, and sugar-free chewing gum. For all those who have sponsored a package, we send our thanks.

Help us take care of our wounded Veterans who have returned home for treatment by donating a Wounded Warrior Care Package. These bags will be delivered to Walter Reed and to local VA hospitals and distributed to active duty and Veterans receiving treatment.

Memorial Day – Honor &Remember

This Memorial Day take time to remember our fallen heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation. On May 27, 2013 Americans will come pay their respects at cemeteries, memorials and parades, There is also National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. MAF is asking our supports to proudly fly their flag in honor of our service members and our great country and if you happen across a uniformed member or a retiree proudly wearing their uniform or a commemorative cap, take the time to offer a hand shake or a hug.

Mark Your Calendar Now for Troopathon VI Live Event!

We are gearing up for Move America Forward’s 6th Annual Troopathon on Thursday June 27, 2013 from at 12 to 8 PM (PDT). LIVE from the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library.

This year’s theme, “Salute our Troops” was selected to honor the sacrifice and hard work of our troops in the name of liberty and freedom. Troopathon is MAF’s way of remembering that sacrifice and providing our sponsors with a way to say “Thank You.”.

We will keep you posted as we firm up this years exciting list of featured guests.
Thank You Highlight!

At Move America Forward we love hearing from our soldiers, and we know you do too!  We hope you enjoy reading this card just as much as we did.

 


Calling all Troops!

Signing up to receive packages is easy!
If you are deployed or have the address of a deployed military member, you can click here for our Military Sign Up Center to sign them up to receive one of our great care packages loaded with plenty of the tedner love and care our soldiers need to remind them that people back home support their mission.

If you prefer, copy this link http://www.moveamericaforward.org/soldier-sign-up/ and e-mail it to your soldier so they can sign up themselves. Once the soldier has registered they’ll be eligible to receive packages and messages of support from caring Americans like you!


Mother’s where would we be without them? Mom –the woman who carried us for 9 months, and then endured the pains of child birth, just so we could live. Yet that was just the beginning of the sacrifices that she would make. There would be many sleepless nights, stinky diapers, visits to the doctor for stitches; teacher conferences; wiping away tears; encouraging words; discipline; great sacrifices; and tons of selfless love and support. Many Mothers raised their children as a single parent as I did, which added to the struggles.
At the age of 23 I found myself divorced, with a 3 year old, 18 month old and pregnant. There was no child support, no help and at times it looked like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. My children were the reason I persevered, I had to. It was not easy and I won’t pretend that I was the perfect parent, my children could tell you otherwise, but I did the best I knew how.With three adult children and 8 grandchildren I know look back and question. “What happened to the tunnel???????” We survived, we made it, and each one of my children is impacting the world in their own unique ways. You often here me speak of my son Marc, the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq, but I am just as proud of my other two children Kristofer and Cheryl.
Each one of us need to honor the Mother that God gave us as we approach Mother’s Day, but I would also challenge you to reach out and honor a military mother on Mother’s Day.Our Gold Star Mother’s find this holiday to be extremely difficult. They have given their very best for this nation, and this is another one of those days that is a reminder of the loss of our fallen hero. If you know a Gold Star Mother take her to lunch, bring her flowers, chocolate, or a gift certificate for a spa day, just to let her know you remember and you have not forgotten that sacrifice.Our Blue Star Mother’s have raised warriors who daily are fighting for our freedoms. Many have their children in the combat zone and try to carry on and function knowing that their child is fighting the terrorists in the hills of Afghanistan.

The wives and mothers of our deployed warriors who are at home, raising their children and keeping the home functioning and running, filling the role of both Mommy and Daddy until their hero returns.

Hopefully you tell your Mom thank you often and love and honor her. If you are a Gold Star Mother, my heart understands and deeply embraces you today and I will never forget. To each and every Mother who raised a warrior who fought in any conflict for my freedoms, thank you, job well done. To those moms whose hero is deployed, I say, Hooyah, Hoorah, Hoohah, keep, keepin on!

I would love to hear back if you accept my challenge to honor a military Mother and what you did for them. You can reply to me at Debbie@moveamericaforward.org.

This Mother’s Day I will be thanking God that he gave me the blessing of being a mother to three children by birth, and so many “adopted” children by the brotherhood of service.

Remembering our Mothers,
Debbie Lee

What’s Trending Now

MAF is on Twitter follow us @M_A_F and like our page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/moveamericaforward). Here are a few popular tweets from this past month!

 


Move America Forward is Proud to Honor Staff Sgt. Rex L. Schad

Staff Sgt.  Rex L. Schad, 26 was killed in action on March 11, 2013 in Jalrez, Wardak Province, while conducting a patrol brief with Afghanistan National Police. He was assigned to Company A. 3rd Battalion; 69th Armor, 1BCT, Fort Stewart, GA, serving as a Squad Leader on his 2nd deployment to Afghanistan.

SSG Shad was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. During his seven years of Army service, SSG Schad has been awarded a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, three Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor; two Army Achievement Medals, two Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign with Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge and Expert Infantryman Badge.
At his Military funeral in Oklahoma, his platoon leader, 1st Lt. David Swanson, who traveled with the body all the way from Afghanistan, said that Rex was the best squad leader in the Battalion and perhaps in the entire Division.

 

MONTHLY SMILES – WITHOUT THE HASSLE

Want one less thing to remember? Just give us criteria for selecting soldiers and your budget and we’ll do the rest – monthly, quarterly, or on any schedule you want.

Then you’ll be sure no matter how busy you get, you’re keeping those smiles coming. There’s no obligation, and you can stop sending packages at any time.

If you’d like to know more, send an e-mail to lisabaron@moveamericforward.org, and put Monthly Smiles Club in your subject line. Or order a package now and check the box that says you want to join the Monthly Smiles program.

April Newsletter

Wounded Warrior Care Packages for our Veterans

Move America Forward has always been dedicated to supporting our deployed troops serving in harm’s way.  Our highly successful program has delivered over 215 tons of care packages loaded with the items they want and need. Plus each is packed with helpful information and most importantly — a personal message from you.

Sadly, many of our troops still feel the effects of battle long after they return home. Over 8 million veterans are enrolled in the Department of Veteran Affairs System on which they rely for everything from routine checkups to life saving surgery. With this in mind, MAF is proud to announce this April we are launching “Wounded Warrior Care Packs.”

Our durable, flame retardant “Wounded Warrior Care Packs (WWCP)” come with an easy cinch closure to keep our filled-to-the-brim packs secure.

Each bag comes loaded with essentials our brave veterans need to make their hospital stay more comfortable. From our non-slip hospital socks for cold floors, to our 10 piece toothbrush kits, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, lip balm, and other approved personal hygienic items. We also include a deck of playing cards, candy, and sugar-free chewing gum to make our veterans feel a little bit more at home

Many of our troops are returning home from Afghanistan or Iraq with life-altering injuries sustained in the line of fire, protecting our freedoms and liberties. Some patients may even be Vietnam or Desert Storm Veterans who made sacrifices for our nation decades ago.

Please take the time to say thank you for those sacrifices and help provide for our wounded veterans by donating a MAF “Wounded Warrior Care Pack.” Each bag will be delivered to local VA hospitals and distributed to Veterans coming in for extended treatment. By making your 100% tax deductible donation you will ensure that sick or wounded veterans are getting exactly what the VA says they need.

wwcp_button3

Troop Tweets

Are you on Twitter? Follow us @M_A_F to share your story, let others know how to donate and even request a care packages to be sent out for you. Stay informed on the latest news.  Use the #SOT and #CarePackage hashtags to let everyone know how to help.

So go ahead and tweet us a troop picture or support message @M_A_F and you just might find your tweet featured in one of our upcoming newsletter!


MAF is Proud to Honor
Sgt. Michael C. Cable of Kentucky

Sgt. Michael C. Cable, 26, of Philpot, Ky., was killed March 27 in Shinwar District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, according to a news release from the Department of Defense.

According to Defense Department reports, Sgt. Cable had been on guard duty in  an area that was to be used for the swearing in of new Afghan police last week.

Upon completion of his duty, Cable was playing with several local children when he was stabbed in the back of the neck by an Afghan teenager believed to be approximately 16 years old. The attacker fled to Pakistan for protection and has reportedly joined Taliban forces there.

Cable was a fire support specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division deployed out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky..

Cable has been posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, and Purple Heart.  Serving since 2007, Cable had also previously been awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/Bronze Service Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge and the Air Assault Badge.

Cable is survived by his parents, Raymond L. Johnston Sr., and Vickie M. Johnston, both of Philpot, Ky., and his brother, Raymond L. Johnston Jr.

 

Local Girl Scouts Wow with Big Cookie Donation

Thanks to a generous donation from local Girl Scout troops, our care packages will also include Girl Scout cookies while supplies last. Everyone loves Girl Scout cookies, and thanks to some local area troops, our deployed troops will also enjoy munching on these springtime favorites as well when they receive their next car package from Move America Forward.


    Girl Scout Cookies Donated by local troops

Send a 100% tax deductible care package now so our troops can enjoy a treat from you!


Calling all Troops!
Signing up to receive packages is easy!

If you are deployed or have the address of a deployed military member, you can click here for our Military Sign Up Center to sign them up to receive one of our great care packages loaded with plenty of the TLC our soldiers need to remind them that people back home support their mission.

If you prefer, copy this link and e-mail it to your soldier so they can sign up themselves. Once the soldier has registered they’ll be eligible to receive packages and messages of support from caring Americans like you.

A Big Easter Thank You!

Thanks to your support our troops received hundreds of Easter care packages. This year was one of our most successful Easter programs ever. It’s nice to know while we were all here at home celebrating with family and loved ones, thanks to the generous support of Move America Forward donors, many of our troops received a little taste of home. Although Easter is now behind us, the troops always appreciate a package from home complete with a personal note from you.  Why not take the time to send a package now if you have not done so recently.

 



Opening the MARC A LEE Training Center at SEAL Base Coronado


Waves brushed the sands on the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado on March 20, 2013 just as they have done for decades. Every Navy SEAL recognizes those sounds as this is the base where BUDs recruits begin their journey determined to earn their Trident.


Marc was all too familiar with those beaches, the grinder and the buildings on that base.  He endured surf torture, rock portage and grueling runs back and forth on that beach. The intense training at Coronado also included dives in the cold Pacific Ocean, commands to ‘go get wet and sandy’ followed by countless pushups, pull ups and extensive training.

Only 20-25% of those who start the training at BUDs to become a SEAL have the determination, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually to see their dream become a reality.

Marc graduated in class 251 and was proudly pinned with his Trident. In April 2006 Marc deployed with ST-3 Charlie platoon to Ramadi, Iraq.  During that time Ramadi saw some of the deadliest battles our service members faced and our nation suffered the loss of many brave heroes there.  After an intense two hour firefight and after selflessly exposing himself three different times to enemy fire, Marc sacrificed his life to save his teammates, for his country and for our freedoms.  Marc was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star with valor, Purple Heart and numerous other awards.

On my first trip to Iraq in 2007 I brought back some of the sands from the desert at Camp Marc Lee where he was stationed. The sands in Ramadi were quite different than those in Coronado and I know every one of our troops who had experienced both, longed to be back on the familiar soil of home.

It was the familiar sands on Coronado that brought hundreds of people to the base on March 20, on what would have been Marc’s 35th birthday. They were there to dedicate the new TRADET building where all of the SEALS train before each and every deployment.

The Navy, Marc’s Commanders and teammates choose to honor and remember Marc by naming this building after a hero who focused intently on pushing his body and training in every aspect of his life.

 

Above the quarterdeck at the front of the building large silver letters wrap around the framework of the Marc A Lee Training Center.  Upon entering the quarterdeck you immediately  recognize you are in a place of respect, awe and reverence, and if you didn’t know Marc you are introduced to a Mighty Warrior.

The walls and floor are painted black and there is a large rug with the Memorial patch woven through the threads. This is the Memorial patch that his teammates made and wore the rest of the deployment after his was killed. There is an almost life size etching of Marc on granite, with his famous words from his last letter home, “pass on the love, the kindness, the precious gift of human life.”

Strategically placed are his last letter home, awards, memorial knife, challenge coin, American flag, Navy SEAL flag and a screen flashing pictures of Marc.

 

Throughout the building are displays with Marc’s belongings telling the story of not just this young man as a Navy SEAL but as a soccer player, Bible student, athlete, “class clown” and a man who loved his family, friends, and teammates.

The ceremony was about an hour long and consisted of speeches made by Commander Green who was Marc’s CO at ST-3 when he died and now is in charge of the West coast SEALs, Jocko Willink who was in Ramadi with Marc as his task unit Commander and myself.  President Bush couldn’t attend but sent a letter that was read, along with a letter from Gen Sean McFarland.
The grinder was prepared for the celebratory occasion and after the ceremony family, friends, and teammates mingled and shared stories of how Marc had impacted their lives.

We ended the day with about 50 of Marc’s family, close friends and teammates at a birthday dinner hosted by America’s Mighty Warriors. We cut cake in Marc’s memory and remembered this hero who had not only changed our lives but lives all over the world.

The Marc A Lee Training Center will be an ongoing legacy to Marc and how he lived his life and will challenge, motivate and encourage every person who enters that building to never give up.

NAB Coronado Building Dedicated to Fallen Navy SEAL

Thanks to all who Answered the Call!

Thanks to you we were able to raise enough money to not only send each Marine a care package, but each Marine also got a special personal message which really makes each care package so much more meaningful to the Marines who received them.

The words we send directly from you to the troops truly make all the difference in the world, but don’t take our word for it, read what the 1st Marine Division Family Readiness Program Coordinator had to say in response to your efforts:

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Bill Durdin, the 1st Marine Division Family Readiness Program Coordinator also known as, the FRO at Camp Pendleton California.First, I want to THANK EVERYONE who participates in the Move America Forward Care Package Program. I wanted to provide you some insights as to what your MARINES and SAILORS do when deployed.Your deployed WARRIORS work an average of 14 hour days. For those actually in Afghanistan and actively involved in the FIGHT, that number goes up dramatically. As anyone who serves or has had a loved who serves in a WAR ZONE can tell you, there’s very little time for sleep when actually involved in the FIGHT.

I can assure you, when your WARRIORS receive letters and care packages it means the WORLD to them!Honestly stated, there are times when actually in the fight, you ask yourself, “Is this really worth it and, do the folks back home really care?” But when they receive your care packages those thoughts go away.

Simply stated, it makes a difference when you know your efforts are APPRECIATED and RESPECTED by the folks back home!THANK YOU AGAIN FOR ALL YOU DO!

Your Marine Remain,
SEMPER FIDELIS!

Bill Durdin USMC Ret, MBA, M.Ed,

1st Marine Division
“The Tip Of the Spear”
Family Readiness Program Coordinator

 

March Monthly Newsletter 2013

Debbie Remembers Chris Kyle: American Sniper
Chris Kyle
April 8, 1974 – Feb 2, 2013

Chris Kyle, “The Legend” as his teammates nicknamed him, was tragically taken from us on Feb 2, 2013. Chris was the author of American Sniper and was the most lethal sniper in US Military History. As a Navy SEAL Chris was awarded numerous medals including two Silver Stars, and five Bronze Stars with Valor. I was blessed to not only know the warrior Chris was but to experience the complete package of a man balanced with selfless love, compassion and generosity.

Chris is survived by his wife and two children who he deeply loved and cherished.

Along with Chris at the Texas shooting range on February 2, 2013, close friend Chad Littlefield was also murdered and leaves behind a wife and a daughter.

Chris and I began to communicate after the death of my son Marc Alan Lee. I would receive emails and phone calls while Chris was still deployed. I realized that these men who served with Marc were his “brothers” and I adopted/inherited many new “sons.” Chris took that role seriously and we became very close, we really were family. So when I received the call that Chris had been killed I was devastated and in shock. I caught the next flight to Texas to be with his family. I have dedicated my life since Marc’s death to the troops and especially the families of the fallen. I have been there for too many families who have lost a loved one in combat or related to combat, but this was different. Chris was as close to a son as you could be without birthing them or raising them. Grief was all too familiar and I did not like this.

Within hours we began to see an amazing out pouring from the patriots in Texas who were deeply moved and had been impacted by Chris. It is still so hard to accept that Chris is no longer with us. I was so blessed to have known Chris and be embraced by him as his “Momma Lee.”

We had about 12,000 to 15,000 attend the services at Cowboy Stadium. The following day the funeral procession traveled 200 miles to bury Chris in Austin at Texas Memorial Cemetery.

We gathered at the Stadium at Midlothian High and were greeted by the Patriot Guard Riders. These riders are life savers, if it wouldn’t have been for them at Marc’s Memorial Service I would have been arrested for the confrontation that might have ensued when the Westboro wacko’s told me “I had failed my son and I sent him to hell” and that “He choose an occupation of murder.” Because they attended and sheltered me I didn’t see or hear the vile protestor’s. They ride for every fallen hero to honor and defend them. One of Marc and Chris’ Officers and I got off the bus in the pouring rain to present Challenge Coins to their President and shake the hands of each of those who rode. The funeral processions were led by about 80 riders and then were joined in Waco by about 800 more.

As we left Midlothian people were gathered on the overpasses to honor Chris and show their support. I was amazed as we continued to drive 5 miles away, and yet still people were standing on every single overpass, 25 miles and still every single overpass had people waving flags, saluting, some with signs “RIP Chris Kyle,” “Thanks you Chris, you will not be forgotten.” This was done in the pouring rain and many of them where there hours before when our advanced team and color guard drove by. Even though I was exhausted and had slept very little the past week, I knew I had to stay awake to see how many miles we would travel before there was an empty overpass. 150 miles…..still every overpass. Many had fire trucks and emergency vehicles, and it wasn’t just the overpass, the sides of the freeway had people standing on the shoulder in front of their business, school children stood with hands over their hearts, some people knelt as we went by, many had tears streaming down their cheeks.

As we passed through many of the major cities people were on all three levels of freeways as they laced over the interstate. I remember my heart sinking a little in disappointment as we neared an overpass and no one was there, then as we got closer I saw it was under construction and you couldn’t get up there. We traveled 200 miles and EVERY overpass had people paying their respects and honoring Chris. I had never seen anything like this in my life.

Chris hated the spotlight, he was uncomfortable doing book signings, taking pictures, and visiting with people. That wasn’t why he wrote American Sniper, he wrote it to honor Marc, Ryan and his teammates. He wanted to give the average American a glimpse into what our troops and their families endure and sacrifice. He gave away all of the proceeds to the book. He wrote the book to challenge people that when they come home our responsibility is “to serve those who served us.”

After Chris and I had been at book signings or in a group of people where he couldn’t walk five feet without someone stopping him for a hand shake or autograph, he would say “I hate this part, I am not a people person”. Yet if you stopped him even if there was a line a mile long behind you, he would have made you feel that you were the only one and it was sincere. As we drove that 200 miles and I saw all of those people I couldn’t help but think, yes son, you are a people person. People all over the world love you.

Chris is buried at an amazing, historic cemetery, and the private burial ceremony attended by family, close friends and teammates will forever be etched in my heart. The cemetery was surrounded three deep on the outside perimeter by the PGR riders and their flags along with who knows how many other patriots.

I stood directly across from the SEALS in formation. My oldest son was on my right and Medal of Honor recipient Mike Thornton on my left, and Chris’ casket between the SEALS and I. In front of the casket set Chris family. It was all I could do to not break down when the folded flag was given to Taya, and Chris Mother.

Following SEAL tradition, at the end of Chris’  funeral each SEAL removed his Trident and solemnly  walked to the casket, and then placed his Trident on Chris’ casket and with one slam of the fist pounded it in to the casket. It left me speechless and in tears, as it has each time I have witnessed  these brave warriors saying goodbye to one their brothers. Each SEAL then returned to formation and bagpipers played  “Amazing Grace.” The SEALs all then gathered around the casket and knelt. If they could reach the casket they place their hand on it, if not they placed their hand on the shoulder of the SEAL in front of them and bowed their heads.

 

When the bagpipers stopped in deep voices of the Brotherhood, they yelled “HOOYAH, CHRIS KYLE!”

Forever Grateful,
Debbie Lee

Registering a Soldier is Easy

Registering a soldier to receive support packages is easy. If you have the address of someone deployed on active military duty, click here for our Military Sign-Up Center or copy this link (http://www.moveamericaforward.org/soldier-sign-up/) and e-mail it to them so they can sign-up themselves. Once signed up they’ll be eligible to receive packages and messages of support from caring fellow Americans.

Share MAF with a Friend

The more soldiers that register, the more we need to reach out to individuals, groups and organizations who’d like to show their support. If you know an individual, company or organization who’d like to support our troops, would you please pass this newsletter along, or copy this link and e-mail it: (http://www.moveamericaforward.org/march-monthly-newsletter-2013/)

Nothing says Easter like Marshmallow Peeps!

 

 

You loved them when you were a kid and we are proud to include the squishy goodness of authentic Peeps in our Easter Care Packages for The Troops. Of course we will still send all the other great treats soldiers crave like Jelly Belly candy diplomacy jelly beans, gourmet coffee, beef jerky, Oreo cookies, Gatorade, lip balm, our new Hoo-Ahhs field towels, deodorant and more.

We know nothing lifts a lonely soldier’s spirits like a letter from home, that’s why when you send an Easter package though Move America Forward your personal message of support will be included with our treats. Most of our deployed soldiers are used to spending holidays away from loved ones but let’s make sure they know we are thinking about them and sending our love today. Peeps are only available for a limited time, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to include this iconic Easter classic in your troop support package.

Check Out our New Hoo-Ahhs® Field Towels!

We all know how great a shower feels after a long hard day of work but often our soldiers are out in the field and just don’t have the luxury of showering off all that dirt and grime. Move America Forward is proud to announce we’ve partnered up with Hoo-Ahhs® to include their sturdy, non-shredding over sized per-moistened field towels in all our troop support packages.  MAF has always included hand wipes in our packages, but we felt there had to be a product out there that could really tackle the grime and sweat our hard working troops deal with every day without leaving them sticky and dried out like an alcohol based wipe.  Hoo-Ahhs® are alcohol- free and moistened  with an unscented aloe and vitamin E based formula that’s  gently on skin but strong enough to clean off greasy camouflage paint, sweat, sunscreen and insect repellent.

Hoo-Ahhs® Field Towels are the brain child of a supply sergeant who noticed during a field exercise that many of his fellow soldiers used baby wipes for basic personal bathing since no shower facilities were available in the field environment. The sergeant realized that baby wipes were great for babies but not really manufactured or packaged with soldiers in mind. They did an adequate job of “freshening up” before hitting the sack, but definitely fell short when trying to remove real dirt and grime. And the small size of the wipes, sweet fragrance and bulky packaging were not conducive to the needs of a soldier in the field.

MAF is so excited to bring these over-sized (7″ x 10″) field towels to our troops and know our troops will be grateful to receive them.  If you’d like to be among the first send out a package with our new Hoo-Ahhs®Field Towelstake a moment and send a package today!


Another great partner joins MAF: Military OneSource

Military OneSource provides real help, anytime, anywhere, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to military members and their families. Every deploying troop is briefed on the free services before they leave and we are proud to include an informational packet in each of our Care Packages. Through the Department of Defense Military OneSource provides comprehensive information on every aspect of military life including deployment, reunion, relationships, grief, spouse employment and education, parenting and child care, and much more.

Military OneSource has policy and programmatic information, helpful resources, products, and articles and tips on numerous topics related to military life.  Services are available 24 hours a day by telephone and online.  In addition to the website, Military OneSource offers call center and online support for consultations on any number of issues such as spouse education and career opportunities, issues specific to families with a member with special needs, and financial support and resources.

Military OneSource also offers personal non-medical counseling services online, via telephone, or face-to-face.  You can receive non-medical, short-term counseling, as well as assistance with financial management, taxes, career services, health and wellness, and much more.

This personalized support is available 24/7 no matter where you live or serve and it’s a great addition to our efforts here at MAF.

Monthly Smiles Club Keeps Morale High Year Round

Here’s an easy way to keep those smiles coming all year long – join the Move America Forward Monthly Smiles Club. Simply provide us with your monthly budget, and a little information from you and we do the rest. That’s all there is to it. Then you’ll know each month you’ve put a smile on a soldier’s face.

We can also set up programs that send packages out for all the different holidays through the year. We have members who send out packages for Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and others who send out packages every other month or even quarterly. We’re here to help with whatever you or your company, group or organization wants to do to support the troops. There’s no obligation, and you can stop sending packages at any time.

Here’s a thank you we just received from a soldier who got a package through Move America Forward, as you can see, it really meant a great deal!

If you have a question or would like additional information, contact:

Lisa Baron, Monthly Smiles Director at:
LisaBaron@MoveAmericaForward.org.

February Monthly Newsletter 2013

MoveAmericaForward.org

Debbie Remembers Chris Kyle: American Sniper

January brought me into another New Year filled with so much to be grateful for and look forward to. I had the opportunity to be part of Warrior Appreciation Night in Las Vegas in conjunction with Shot Show 2013, an annual tradeshow for the shooting, hunting, and firearms industry.

Any day that I am able to greet, thank and love on our troops who have fought through the ages is a great day for me! I heard so many amazing stories from our warriors who have sacrificed so much for me, for you, for America. Many of those in attendance were our wounded warriors who left pieces on the battlefield and have returned home determined to not give up and to persevere and become the best they can be with the difficulties that confront them as they adjust to their new “normal.”


Debbie and Chris Kyle at his Home in Texas

I was blessed by spending three packed days at Shot Show with one of my “adopted boys,” Chris Kyle the author of the best seller “American Sniper.” Unimaginably, Chris’s life ended tragically along with his close friend, Chad Littlefield at a Texas gun range on Saturday, February 2, 2013.


Chris Kyle  April 8, 1974 – February 2, 2013

Chris was the most lethal sniper in history, but beyond that he was a loving father and husband.  He dedicated his book, “American Sniper”  to my son, Marc and another teammate who died Ryan Job.  Marc’s final gift to me was his teammates and I’m blessed to have each one of them in my lives and experience their love.

When I attended events with Chris, it wouldn’t be unusual to hear him shout across the aisle “Hey Momma” as he introduced me to another patriot who wanted to say hello and thank me for Marc’s sacrifice.

I am so moved and blessed by Chris’s generosity and love and his death is a soul crushing loss for me personally and for all who knew and loved him. Our Navy SEALs are as President Bush told me “The elite of the elite” yet these are some of the most compassionate men I have ever met in my life.

So as we look forward to February, a month that celebrates love, let’s remember to shower our love and gratitude on our warrior and their families. They have basically signed a blank check and are willing to give up their lives for our freedoms, just as my son did.

To each one of you who are serving or have served and your families I say THANK YOU and am sending lots of hugs and love your way. As a nation we can never repay the debt we owe you. YOU ARE LOVED!

For Chris, I can only hope that Marc and Ryan greeted you at heaven’s gate to thank you personally and embrace you in the brotherly love and camaraderie shared by all warriors. Chris’s life was well lived even as it was cut woefully short. I will hold you in my heart and will be forever thankful for your presence in my life.

Forever Grateful,
Debbie Lee

 

Local Students Share their Love for Valentine’s Day!

Thanks to the generosity of students from St. Philomene School, Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary School,   Saint Joseph School,   Victory Christian School and Capital Christian School, all Sacramento local area elementary schools, our February care packages will include hand-made Valentine’s cards full of love and support for our troops.

We wanted to make sure this Valentine’s Day our troops would be treated to some extra special packages. We sent out a call to area schools asking them to take part in a project to bring some heart-felt love to our troops and these five schools answered the call in a big way.

Troops love to receive care packages full of goodies from home, but time and time again, we hear about how these troops treasure the notes of support that are included long after the last cookie is munched and the last bit of beef jerky is nothing but a memory.  Troops often carry these reminders of loving support with them in their personal packs, that’s just how highly valued they are.

According to Sr. Maria Rose, O.P, principle of PBVM,   “during Catholic School’s week we had a ‘patriotic day’ in which the students made these cards. Thank you for giving this opportunity to our students!”  Several of the schools, including Capital Christian School were so excited they personally delivered their Valentine’s cards right to our office on Folsom Blvd., where they were treated to a quick tour thanks to MAF’s Outreach Director, Scott Raab and got to see our packages as they were being prepared for shipment to or troops.

“Our students had fun making them. Thank you.” beamed Katie Nelson, Elementary Principle of Capital Christian School.

“On Friday, January 25 our whole school got together to make Valentines’ Day cards.  We are a small school, 101 students.  Thank you again.” said Gretchen Novis, of St. Philomene School.

Thanks to all the schools who participated, MAF is so grateful to them for the extra special Valentine’s our troops will receive.

Registering a Soldier is Easy

Registering a soldier to receive support packages is easy. If you have the address of someone deployed on active military duty, click here for our Military Sign-Up Center or copy this link  http://www.moveamericaforward.org/soldier-sign-up/  and e-mail it to them so they can sign-up themselves. Once signed up they’ll be eligible to receive packages and messages of support from caring fellow Americans.

MAF is now a Proud Member of the
Inter-Service Family Assistance Committee (ISFAC)


Captain Woolard, Commander Base Alameda;
Deborah Burrow, Family Assistance Specialist;
Scott Raab
, MAF Outreach Director;
Danny Gonzalez
,
MAF Communications Director

Move America Forward accepted an invitation from the Red Cross to take part in the Northern California Inter-Service Family Assistance Committee (ISFAC) Quarterly Meeting. ISFAC (Inter-Service Family Assistance Committee) is a voluntary Military cooperative partnership, organized to provide multi-service networking for training and assistance, to ensure Total Force Family Readiness. The event headed up by Deborah Burrow is to bring agencies offering various resources and information together to assist Military personnel and their Families in the Northern California region.

Mrs. Burrow welcomed MAF as its newest member at the January Meeting on Coast Guard Island, Base Alameda. “Thanks so much for attending our ISFAC meeting and being a speaker. Your program is wonderful and I know you will be a great resource and support for our troops.”

“Officially joining ISFAC is just one more way we are able to support the troops” said Scott Raab, Director of Outreach. “We are committed to helping as many troops as possible cooperating with ISFAC, and all the great service organizations, like the Red Cross, who make up their membership.”

Have a Heart for Valentine’s Day!

Take time to share your love with one of our thousands of deployed troops this Valentine’s Day. To make our Valentine’s package even more special MAF will include yummy Valentine’s candy conversation hearts and extra special home-made Valentine’s cards provided by local area school children in addition to our regular great treats like Oreo cookies, premium beef jerky, Jelly Belly jelly beans, locally roasted and ground fresh coffee and much more.  Everyone loves to get a reminder on Valentine’s Day that they are loved, let’s take the time to give some of that love to our troops!

It’s easy to do and our Valentine’s packages start at a super affordable $24.99.

Monthly Smiles Club Keeps Morale High Year Round

Here’s an easy way to keep those smiles coming all year long – join the Move America Forward Monthly Smiles Club. Simply provide us with your monthly budget, and a little information from you and we do the rest. That’s all there is to it. Then you’ll know each month you’ve put a smile on a soldier’s face.

We can also set up programs that send packages out for all the different holidays through the year. We have members who send out packages for Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and others who send out packages every other month or even quarterly. We’re here to help with whatever you or your company, group or organization wants to do to support the troops. There’s no obligation, and you can stop sending packages at any time.

Soldiers Send Thanks

Here’s a thank you we just received from a soldier who got a package through Move America Forward, as you can see, it really meant a great deal!

If you have a question or would like additional information, contact Lisa Baron, our

Monthly Smiles Director at LisaBaron@MoveAmericaForward.org.

MAF Troop Bowl a Big Success

Just as the Baltimore Ravens pulled off an exciting 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in this year’s Super Bowl, MAF fans participating in our Super Bowl Troop Bowl package drive gave the victory to our Ravens fans who beat out the 49er supporters by the thin margin of 2%. Although it was all in fun, it’s great to see our sports fans come out to support our best team ever, our deployed troops.  Thanks Troop Bowl fans, you are all winners in our books!

 

January 2013 Newsletter

THANKS TO ONE AND ALL!!

Move America Forward would like to say a big THANK YOU to all the people, companies, groups and organizations who sent Thanksgiving and Christmas packages and messages of support. You helped make it a little easier for our troops during a time of year when it’s harder than ever to be far from home and family. Thanks to your generosity and support, the holidays were brighter for thousands of American soldiers.

If you sent a package and have not yet received a thank you, please be patient. Sometimes it’s very hard or even impossible for a soldier to drop a note in the mail, as much as you would all love to hear back from the soldier you have sponsored.

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