September 2019 Newsletter

September 11, 2019 Packathon demonstrated our spirit of service and commitment


Elected officials, volunteers, veterans, active duty military, Gold Star parents, military families and supporters came together as Americans in unity to support our brave troops deployed on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq.

During our annual Packathon held September 11, 2019 we demonstrated our spirit of service and commitment as we took time out for a solemn ceremony of remembrance for those who lost their lives 18 years ago when America was attacked in a cowardly act of terrorism which claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people, many of whom sacrificed their own lives so others might survive.

Packathon Master of Ceremonies John McGinnis

From the brave FDNY and NYPD who repeatedly went back into the burning World Trade Center Towers in search of survivors to the ordinary citizen like Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers aboard Flight 93 who attempted to wrestle the plane controls from the hands of their captors, America witnessed no shortage of the best of humanity in stark contrast and defiance to those who sought to destroy us.


Move America Forward, in cooperation with sponsors SF Bay Coffee Company and Paradies Lagardere, supporters, and many more volunteers from the community came together to honor the 18th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th, 2001 so that we never forget that day when our world profoundly changed. Our 9/11 ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance led by SSG. James Menard, followed by the color guard from Beale AFB, and then a stirring rendition of the National Anthem sung by Vietnam & Persian Gulf War veteran Phillip Rios who was awarded the Bronze Star in 1991 and is currently a member of Veterans Affiliated Council, Sacramento.  

The 9/11 PACKATHON opening ceremony at the Move America Forward headquarters featured an invocation from law enforcement chaplain Norm Powers, the son of a Navy veteran who served in both WWII and Korea. Chaplain Powers has a family history or service with brothers also serving and now a son who is currently serving. Chaplain Powers spoke of the importance of remembering and honoring those who serve and he offered a special blessing for their safety.

John McGinnis acted as our MC for the event, he is a current radio talk host on Sacramento KFBK and served as the Sacramento County Sheriff for many years. He introduced a representative from Senator Nielsen’s office who presented MAF with a proclamation of appreciation for hosting Packathon in remembrance of September 11.  Following the proclamation MC McGinnis introduced some very special Gold Star family members:

Gold Star Families — Some Gave All
  • Diane Layfield, mother of Lance Corporal, Travis J. Layfield, Travis was killed in hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, serving as a Marine supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • John & Betty Hall, parents of Army Staff Sgt. Bryan E. Hall, who also left behind a wife and young daughter when he was killed in Iraq in 2009, shortly after returning to Iraq from leave where he had celebrated his daughter’s birthday and his 5th anniversary.
  • Rinda Pope, mother of PFC Alex Valera who was killed serving in Iraq on May 19, 2007 when his vehicle convoy was hit by an IED. Five other soldiers lost their lives in the attack. Valera was 19 years old and was laid to rest in Fair Oaks, CA .
  • Karen Meredith, a single mother to only child Army Lieutenant Kenneth Ballard. Ballard was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Iraq in 2004 and he was laid to rest at Arlington, National Cemetery.

To add perspective to the ceremony, three service members who answered the call spoke about the impact September 11, 2001 had on them and helped guide them into service including Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Fleshman who visibly choked up when speaking of the importance of remembering the events of September 11, 2001. David Riley Jr., Sgt. 1st class Station Commander of Elk Grove, California spoke next. Sgt. Riley was only 11 years old when the attacks took place, however, the impact that day had on his life journey was tremendous. He stated his future was sealed that day. At the young age of 17 Riley enlisted and has never looked back. The third service member to take the podium was already 21 at the time of the September 11 attacks. Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Rayburn, walked into a recruiter’s office on September 12, 2001 and shipped out to training 72 hours later. “I was 21, willing and able.” Having served for 18 years, Rayburn is just a few years shy of retirement. He has never regretted answering the call to service and he still remembers visiting the Twin Towers and standing on the top just a month earlier when he visited New York with his brother. “It really hit home, that’s why I serve.”

Colonel Stephanie Williams

Next up was our featured speaker Colonel Stephanie Williams, Commander of the 940th Air Refueling Wing from Beale AFB. Colonel Williams is a 1991 graduate of the US Air Force Academy. Williams stated “I bet everybody in this room remembers where they were on September 11, 2001.” As you read that statement, I am confident you also remember where you were on that day. Please take the time to watch Colonel Williams speech below.

Click Here now for the video of Col. Williams\’ Speech

Colonel Williams\’ speech was followed by an moment of silence then the playing of TAPS after which the colors were retired and the ceremony was concluded. Following the ceremony our volunteers commenced the packing of our 911 plus packages that will be shipped to troops deployed on the front lines overseas.

The 9/11 PACKATHON surpassed our goal of preparing 911 care packages for the troops still fighting on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq in the wars that were spurred by the terrorist’s attacks on 9/11.  

Care packages include letters of support along with high quality food and personal care items like San Francisco Bay gourmet coffee, OREO® cookies, beef jerky, Gatorade®, Planters® nuts, field towels, lip balm, deodorant, sun block, and many other useful items requested by the troops.

Special thanks go out to our Packathon partners, Paradies Lagardere, San Francisco Bay Coffee, Sam\’s Club of Folsom, Citrus Heights Vet Center and FedEx for their assistance in making Packathon possible.

September 11, 2019 Packathon demonstrated our spirit of service and commitment

Sacramento network of Motel 6 employees let their light shine bright prepping care packages for our troops


At Move America Forward, our dedicated volunteers help ensure our mission of troops support is met. Volunteers like the fine folks from the Sacramento regional network of Motel 6 are happy to lend a hand .

We are blessed to host a crew of volunteers from the Sacramento regional network of Motel 6 who willingly donate their time to come in and give us a hand prepping, packing, and taping up box after box full of amazing goodies for our troops.


Surrounded by delicious Girl Scout cookies and the aroma of fresh ground gourmet coffee compliments of the good people of San Francisco Bay Coffee company doesn’t even tempt these amazing volunteers because they are so focused on making sure our brave men and women deployed far from home will be able to enjoy the thrill of opening a care package meant just for them, packed with loving care to the brim and including a genuine and heart-felt note from a patriotic well-wisher. Knowing they are making a positive impact on the lives of our deployed troops is the number one reason our fine Motel 6 friends are more than happy to pitch in and do their share to help treat our troops to some goodies from home.

September 11, 2012 – The Benghazi attack in Libya – Remembering the other 9/11


We\’ve talked about the importance of remembering the thousands of innocents who lost their lives in the Twin Towers, Pentagon, and Flight 93, but we should not forget the other lives we lost on 9/11. Read more…

On September 11, 2012, we lost 4 Americans in the attacks on the American consulate building in Benghazi, Libya.

Warnings about the likelihood of an attack timed with the anniversary of 9/11 went unheeded by the State Department, and so security of our consulate in Libya was not stepped up on September 11, 2012 when anti-USA militants carried out a planned attack on the undefended consulate.

The nearby CIA annex security team came to aid those Americans trapped in the Consulate, but by the end of the night Ambassador Chris Stevens, US Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods had been killed.

The nation reacted to this tragic incident with sorrow and calls for someone to be held responsible for the lack of security. Many officials in the Obama administration including Secretary Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Susan Rice blamed the attack on a cheap and little-known YouTube video called \”The Innocence of Muslims\” they publicly refused to accept that the attack had been planned for the purpose of attacking Americans. Please take a moment to remember these Americans who lost their lives on September 11, 2012.

Our Monthly Smiles Program Keeps Morale High and  Smiles on our Troops Faces Year Round


Set up to schedule a monthly troop support package now and we will remember to send a package out through our Monthly Smiles Club for you each month. Our Monthly Smiles Club provides an easy way to keep those smiles coming all year long! Read more…


Life gets busy and sometimes you can forget to sponsor a care package as often as you might have intended. Remember, our brave troops are deployed all year long, especially during those hot, long, and dangerous summer months and on into Fall and the very busy Holiday Season starting with little goblins and super heroes parading door to door for Halloween and extending all the way through to New Years Day where we vow to start of the New Year with  hope and promises to be our best selves!


So why not start some of those changes now?  Why not decide now is the time to take care of our troops who take care of us?  Monthly Smiles Adopt A Troop Program makes keeping one promise super easy to keep.

If you want to support the troops, but you sometimes forget, or want to make the process easier and automated, the Monthly Smiles Adopt a Troop Program is perfect for you. Just sign up and we will remember to send a package out from every month or however regularly you prefer.  

It\’s super east and if your life changes, you are not locked into any long term contract, just let us know and we an stop your Monthly Smiles at any time. It\’s so simple, you will love it and so will our troops!


Photo of the Month — Troops Helping Troops


Nothing but ear to ear grins when faced with the prospect of helping ensure their fellow troops will soon receive these special care packages chock full of love.