Peter Burks

Peter H. Burks—April 2008 Shipment Honoree

In Remembrance of Peter H. Burks

Sources: Associated Press, Miltary Times
Peter H. Burks
Peter H. Burks

A Dallas soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq is being remembered as a dedicated team player who felt the call to serve.

Army 2nd Lt. Peter H. Burks, 26, died Nov. 14 when his vehicle was hit just outside the Green Zone in Baghdad.  He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

Alan Burks of Celina said he wasn’t surprised that his son’s last actions involved checking on the five men with him.  “He told me, over and over and over again, he said:  ‘Dad, my job is to get my 17 guys home safe.  Then after that I’ll get myself home safe,’ ” Burks said.

Peter Burks moved with his family to Dallas in 1987 and graduated from Trinity Christian Academy in Addison and Texas A&M University. He worked in marketing for the Dallas Desperados and FC Dallas.

“He’s as good as they come,” his father said.  Alan Burks said his son had long talked about military service.  “He felt the call to serve.  He’d tried corporate life and he just said, ‘I have to go do this Dad.  This is what I’ve got to do.’ ”

He joined the Army in 2006 and went to Officer Candidate School. He was deployed to Iraq about three months ago.

Besides his father, he is survived by his mother, Jackie Merck, of McKinney; his fiance; three sisters; a brother; a grandmother and a grandfather.

Peter Haskell Burks:  Dallas soldier killed in Iraq was strong in body and mind

Source:  Joe Simnacher, Dallas Morning News

Throughout his life, 2nd Lt. Peter Haskell Burks was known as a dedicated team player, a trait he maintained as an Army troop leader in Iraq.

On Wednesday he was commanding a unit just outside the Green Zone in Baghdad when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. Lt. Burks received shrapnel wounds to his head, and five of his men were injured.

“Peter’s first words when the explosion happened … he asked his men, ‘Are you OK?’ ” said his father, Alan Burks of Celina. “Then he said, ‘I’m OK.’ From what we’ve learned from the officers who were there, he was conscious for a short period of time.”

Lt. Burks, 26, died at the scene Wednesday. His body arrived Friday in Dover, Del., en route to Dallas from Iraq.

Lt. Burks’ last actions were no surprise to his father.

“He told me, over and over and over again, he said: ‘Dad, my job is to get my 17 guys home safe. … Then after that I’ll get myself home safe.’ ”

Born in Atlanta, he moved with his family to Dallas in 1987. He was a 1999 graduate of Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, where he was a member of the National Honor Society, played football and baseball, and belonged to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“He’s as good as they come,” Mr. Burks said. His son was physically and mentally strong as well as disciplined and committed, he said.

Lt. Burks was the ultimate teammate and a man of strong faith “who could always be counted on to do the right thing,” his father said.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in 2003. He worked in France as a tour guide for a year, before returning to Dallas and a community relations internship with the Dallas Cowboys. He went on to marketing work for the Dallas Desperados and FC Dallas, the Frisco-based soccer team.

Then he joined the Army.

“He’d been talking about military service since he was a very young man,” his father said. “He felt the call to serve. He’d tried corporate life and he just said, ‘I have to go do this Dad. This is what I’ve got to do.’ ”

He joined the Army in 2006. He excelled in training, receiving leadership awards and progressing to Officer Candidate School, where he was voted president of his class, his father said.

Lt. Burks was commissioned in October 2006 and sent to Fort Sill, Okla. In July, he was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany.

He was deployed to Iraq about three months ago.

Lt. Burks “was like the perfect son,” said Daryl Davis, a family friend of 24 years. “He was the epitome of good and value.”

He wanted to serve his country and raise a family, Mr. Davis said.

Lt. Burks was engaged to Missy Haddad of McKinney.

In addition to his father, Lt. Burks is survived by his mother, Jackie Merck of McKinney; three sisters, Alison Burks of Celina, Sarah Burks of Dallas and Georgia Burks of Celina; a brother, Zac Burks of Celina; a grandmother, Irene Merck of Fayetteville, Ga.; and a grandfather, Haskell Burks of Fayetteville, Ga.

Pete Burks

Source:  Dallas Morning News


On November 13, 2007, while serving our great country, 2nd Lieutenant Peter “Pete” Burks was called home to eternal life.  Pete was a man of great Faith, honor and courage, and is incredibly missed by everyone.  He had the ability to light up any room with his glowing personality and quick sense of humor, and lived life with a passion admired by all.  Born April 10, 1981, in Atlanta, GA, Pete brightened many lives in his 26 years.  After graduating from Trinity Christian Academy in 1999, he attended the University of Georgia, then transferred to Texas A&M, where he completed a BA in international studies.  During his time at A&M, Peter served as the president of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and was also a sportswriter for The Battalion, among other activities.  After graduating, he worked as a tour guide in Nice, France, and also worked for the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Desperadoes and FC Dallas.  He loved sharing the good word of Christ, and was very active in Young Life.  In April 2006, Peter proudly answered his call to service by joining the U.S. Army.  He received many honors in his training courses, and his fellow soldiers considered him a fearless leader and man of integrity.  He served in the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment as a troop leader, and made a lasting, positive impression in his short time with his platoon.


I want to thank you and your committee that is honoring our Peter Burks this month.  Seeing his face on your page of honorees brings tears to my eyes…tears of sadness because of the loss of his life and also the impact his death has had on his family/fiancée but also tears of proudness for his service and the faith he held onto to the end.  We are SO proud of Pete and are thankful that groups like yours are willing to honor the fallen.

I worked with Jim (LHCP Vice President), while nominating Pete, and he was wonderful to work with.  So a HUGE thank you to your organization for all you do!

Beth Hebert
(friend of the Burks family)

  • Sources:
    • McKinney Messenger
    • The Eagle
    • Denton Record-Chronicle

ASY Caucus Launch

Congressional Caucus Embraces America Supports You

By John J. Kruzel/American Forces Press Service


Washington, DC

ASYCaucus Launch
From left: John E. Potter, U.S. postmaster general, Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison, Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California and Rep. Connie Mack of Florida, Karen Grimord, founder and president of the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, and Army Brig. Gen. Gary Patton, director of manpower and personnel for the Joint Chiefs of Staff office and an America Supports You spokesman, pose for a picture during the America Supports You Caucus March 5, 2008, in Washington, D.C. Defense Dept. photo by John J. Kruzel

A bipartisan congressional effort kicked off on Capitol Hill today to stand behind America Supports You, a Defense Department program that connects citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

“This is a tremendous priority on both sides of the aisle,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a co-chair of the America Supports You Caucus.

“Not a week goes by in my district … when we don’t have people asking us what they do to be a support to our military and their families,” he said. “America Supports You is such a wonderful resource for them, to be able to multiply their efforts, to be able to know what’s going on and to tap into them.”

When introduced in 2004 to highlight citizen support for U.S. service members, America Supports You comprised five organizations known as “home-front” groups.

The program has since branched into a network of more than 350 nonprofit organizations, companies and other supporters.

Representatives of three locally based home-front groups today described their troop-support missions to the audience gathered in the Rayburn House Office Building. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service’s postmaster general announced a discount on mail sent abroad to military members.

One group on hand was Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, which provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured or wounded from service in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, and is incorporated in Virginia, according to its official Web site.

ASY Caucus group
ASY Caucus group

Two McLean, Va.-based organizations also attended. Angels of Mercy cares for wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and other military hospitals, and also provides for Iraqi and Afghan schoolchildren. Our Military Kids, which joined America Supports You soon after the Pentagon program’s inception, supports children of deployed and severely injured National Guard and reserve personnel through grants of up to $500 for enrichment activities and tutoring.

Our Military Kids co-founder Linda Davidson expressed gratitude that Congress has agreed to work alongside the military and civilian sectors. “This America Supports You program is an example of an effective private-public partnership,” she said.

Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison — the architect of America Supports You — thanked the co-chairs for showing compassion and commitment to U.S. troops. Co-chairing the caucus with Schiff are Rep. Mary Bono Mack of California and Reps. Connie Mack and Allen Boyd of Florida.

“On behalf of over 2 million men and women in the military, their families and our veterans, this is an important day,” Barber said. “Today … we’re helping the American people know that their support matters and that through the America Supports You program they can find real, meaningful ways to show their support for our troops and their families.”

Boyd served as a rifle infantryman in Vietnam. He said that after returning from combat duty — an unpopular calling in many Americans’ eyes — he hoped no future conflict would divide the country in quite the same way.

ASY Caucus Connie Mack
Mack (center) thanked volunteers of organizations that support our troops at a press conference announcing the launch of the Congressional America Supports You Caucus, of which Mack is a co-chair. Second from the left is Allison Barber, the spokeswoman for the America Supports You program at the Department of Defense.

“When I came to Congress, … one of the things I never wanted to happen was to have our men and women put on the uniform and go carry out a policy to defend this country that the leadership had made, and then the American people not appreciate them,” he said.

Mack (center) thanked volunteers of organizations that support our troops at a press conference announcing the launch of the Congressional America Supports You Caucus, of which Mack is a co-chair. Second from the left is Allison Barber, the spokeswoman for the America Supports You program at the Department of Defense.

Boyd said that while he was in Vietnam, receiving reminders of Americans’ support brightened his tour of duty. “I can tell you, when you’re out there and you’re getting the helicopters coming in every four days — hopefully to bring you resupplies and mail and care packages — that really is the highlight of the week for a soldier,” he said.

Citing the importance of the military “mail call,” Postmaster General John E. Potter today announce a reduction in the cost of flat-rate boxes sent from the United States to a military address abroad. “It’s the way (troops) get that little touch of home … from the American people telling them how important the work that they’re doing is,” he noted.

Bono Mack said it’s critical that American citizens show appreciation to U.S. troops making sacrifices throughout the world. “I’m proud to see so many groups, both in my district and throughout the nation, taking on this important cause,” she added.

Army Brig. Gen. Gary Patton, director of manpower and personnel for the Joint Chiefs of Staff office and an America Supports You spokesman, said he was inspired by the outpouring of support for service members.

“For everybody that’s had a part of that,” he said, “I want to thank you.”

Jesus Fonseca

Jesus Fonseca, Jr.—March 2008 Shipment Honoree

In Remembrance of Jesus Fonseca, Jr

Source: The Gazette
January 15, 2008
Jesus Fonseca Jr.
Jesus Fonseca Jr.

Jesus Fonseca’s father feared for his safety and did not want him to join the Army.  But the teenager could not be deterred. “He wanted to be somebody.  That’s what motivated him,” said his father, who is also named Jesus.  “He didn’t make it.  But he tried.”  Fonseca, 19, of Marietta, Ga., was killed Jan. 17 in a car bomb exploded in Ramadi.  He was stationed at Camp Casey, South Korea.  Fonseca emigrated from Mexico with his family when he was a young boy, in 1980.  High school English teacher Sheila Evans said Fonseca often helped classmates who were struggling with the language.  She recalled one phrase in a class paper he wrote about patriotism:  “I think the best way I can love my new country is to serve my new country.”  The soldier was married in December 2003, the same year he graduated from high school.  His wife, Marlen, lives in the Mexican state of Jalisco.  Fonseca had been in Iraq for seven months and was scheduled for leave in January, but it was canceled.

Soldier from Georgia dies in Iraq

Source: Associated Press
Military Times

MARIETTA, Ga. — An Army private from Georgia was killed Monday in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, the Pentagon said Thursday.

Jesus Fonseca Jr., 19, of Marietta was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division based at Camp Casey, South Korea. He died in a car bombing with two other soldiers.

His parents, Jesus and Gloria Fonseca, told WAGA-TV in Atlanta that their son graduated from Sprayberry High School and had been in the United States for 10 years. They said they would like to bring his body from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to Georgia, then bury him in Mexico in accordance with his wishes.

Message from Jesus’s family.

Thanks a lot for the Honor! And so much thanks for keep Jesus in your memories!

I just updated Jesus’ guest book with some pics.

Best regards,

Minerva Serna & Paul Fonseca

NHL Team Hosts Military Appreciation Night

by John J. Kruzel/American Forces Press Service



NFL team
LHCP president speaks withCPL Chris Saunders andLCPL Josef Lopez about LRMC, LHCP and their stay at LRMC 

Away from the rigors of combat last night on an evening dedicated to their selfless service, the only shootout troops worried about was between dueling National Hockey League teams.

During Military Appreciation Night at the Verizon Center here, the Washington Capitals honored some 5,000 servicemembers and their families with free admission and hosted dozens of wounded warriors from military hospitals. From the giant high-definition screen hanging from the arena’s ceiling, shout-outs to servicemembers and videos featuring troops and hockey pros projected onto some 18,000 fans attending the Capitals-New York Islanders contest.

At a pre-game reception in the Dewar’s Club, with fat snowflakes visible through the window behind the podium, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England spoke to a crowd of about 100 VIP guests. England, using themes of inclement weather and the night’s main event, took a playful swipe at his boss, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who injured his shoulder last week after slipping on an icy pathway near his home.

NFL Team
NFL Hockey in Action

“You know, the secretary is on injured reserve now because he encountered some ice outside,” he said. “So it’s nice to be here with an ice rink where it all belongs.”

On a serious note, England said military appreciation nights are significant because they bring together Pentagon civilians, military members and business people for one common cause: to thank those who serve the United States to preserve American freedom and liberty. “We are absolutely blessed to have these men and women who serve and all of those who serve for them,” he added.

England was introduced by Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison. Barber is the founder of America Supports You, a program that connects citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad, which organized the military-themed evening.

“America Supports You is a DoD program that makes it easy for everyone in America to find a way to support our troops and our families,” she added.

NFL Team
The Washington Capitals Salute

Before the puck dropped, Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited with America Supports You home-front group members tending to kiosks and booths in the main concourse. As Cartwright made his rounds, fans ogled the shiny brass stars on the general’s shoulders. “Who’s that four-star?” one former Marine, who later introduced himself to the vice chairman, was overheard to say.

Asked how valuable efforts by networks like America Supports You groups are for channeling public support for the military, the general said the benefits are three-fold.

“It makes the troops and their families aware of what opportunities are available to them and it gives people an opportunity to contribute in a way that may not be in a foxhole, and to be given the booth space and acknowledged makes all the difference in the world,” he said. “(Events) like this bring all the pieces together.”

The general said that American support for troops — perhaps at a historic low when he joined the Marines during the Vietnam War era — is critical to men and women in uniform.

NFL Team
More NFL Action

“To understand what you’re doing makes a difference and that it’s appreciated by somebody is 90 percent of what we go out there and fight for is that feeling,” he said. “And to lose that feeling is to lose the motivation that you have in the foxhole day in and day out.”

Army Staff Sgt. Gary Heffernan, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a member of the Defense Department’s “Why We Serve” speakers outreach program, was on hand for the game. The Boston native, who said his father played goalie in the National Hockey League, acknowledged that Americans aren’t obliged to display their support for the military.

“So when businesses like the Capitals reach out to the military, it’s enormous,” he said. “Even when little businesses or schools reach out and say, ‘Hey, we support you,’ it’s enormously meaningful, because the reason why we fight is for the people.”

Asked why he thinks they choose to show their support, Heffernan said, “Because they love us. There’s no other reason for it.”

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis told guests gathered at the pre-game reception that this is the sixth year the Capitals have held military appreciation night. The Caps had won four of the five previous ones, but on this night the Islanders topped the Capitals 3-2 in a shootout.

Leonsis’ father, who came to America from Greece, spent seven years in the U.S. Navy, serving on the USS Bunker Hill. Leonsis told the crowd his last memory of his father, who died at age 95 in September, was when Navy sailors honored his memory at the cemetery during his burial.

NFL Team
The Verizon Center

The flag that was laid over Leonsis’ father’s casket and presented to the Leonsis family is on display in the Capitals owner’s office.

“My father was an American first and foremost, and instilled in all of us the spirit of competitiveness and what a great country this is,” Leonsis said. “We should never lose sight that our country is made up of individuals, and the men and women who serve our country really deserve our respect and our thanks, and this is our small way of doing it.”

Army Lt. Col. Steve Szewc, who works at the Pentagon as an assistant to the director of the Army staff, said the military appreciation night is a good way to show support for military members of all ranks.

“I think this is a great opportunity for the senior leadership to mix with the troops. It’s a good, casual forum, and it also lets servicemembers know there are people out there supporting them,” he said. “It’s more than what you see in the day-to-day news.”

Hearts for Heroes

LHCP has Some Sweethearts

Sweet Heart News
Sweet Heart News

Landstuhl Hospital Care Project felt a little post-Valentine’s Day “love” Feb. 16, thanks to the American Legion Post in Woodbridge.

The non-profit raised thousands of dollars during a Sweethearts for Heroes dinner dance at American Legion Post 364.

“We are proud to help those who help the troops that defend our freedom on a daily basis,” said Post Commander Thom Karlson. “Supporting our troops is what the American Legion is all about.”

The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured, or wounded due to their service in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.

Donated items are distributed to patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany, the largest American military hospital outside the United States; to field hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to VA facilities throughout the United States.

“Many people ask why the government is not doing more in supplying the needs that we are providing our troops,” said LHCP president and founder Karen Grimord of Stafford. “Most of these comfort and care items are not contained in the Army classes of supply.”

When wounded service members arrive at Landstuhl, they are issued a $250 voucher for personal items by the Department of Defense, she continued.

Valentine Benefit
Valentine Benefit

“They receive the voucher and think it is a wonderful thing,” Grimord said, “who would not think that $250 is great? But when they walk into the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center and see all the items that have been sent to them by their fellow countrymen, a look of amazement comes over their faces. They cannot believe that people still care enough to send them comfort and care items.”

Dozens of couples attended the fundraising event, which featured a buffet dinner and dancing to the tunes of The Radford Brothers Band.

“I have recently moved to the area and a friend asked me to attend the Sweethearts for Heroes dinner/dance benefit for LHCP,” said Tom Spice. “I am a Vietnam veteran and was a patient at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Anything that I can do for my fellow veterans, I am there. It is great to see the support the American people and nonprofits like LHCP are giving our soldiers today.”

“I can say everyone there had a big heart,” said Karen Monk. “I will let our soldier’s know that they are appreciated, in my prayers and in my heart through my participation in LHCP.”

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I wish to thank all those that shared their heart with me in supporting our troops on this special night.

Ray, Judy, Karen & Brian Sweet Heart Dance
Ray, Judy, Karen & Brian Sweet Heart Dance

Charles Milam

Charles Luke Milam—February 2008 Shipment Honoree

Columbine “defining moment” for sailor who died in war

Source: by Jean Torkelson, Rocky Mountain News, Thursday, September 27, 2007
Charles L. Milan
Charles L. Milan

Charles Luke Milam may have been inspired to follow a hero’s path because of a day he never talked about, a terrible April day in 1999 when he was a student at Columbine High School.

“He wasn’t shot or wounded or shot at,” Keith Milam said Thursday, “but absolutely, it was the defining moment of his life.”

Two months after the Columbine killings, Milam, 26, enlisted in the Navy, following in the footsteps of his brother, Keith, and two grandfathers.

This week, the decorated hospital corpsman — known to everybody as Luke — died in combat in Afghanistan. It was his fourth tour of duty. He had served three tours in Iraq, and would have gone back however many times it took to get the job done, his brother said.

“He felt it was his duty to do whatever he could to help people in the military,” Milam said. “He was a hero in every sense of the term.”

His brother surmises that living through the Columbine horror helped shape his brother’s future.

“It wasn’t something Luke ever talked about, but the fact he chose to become a hospital corpsman may have had something to do with (Columbine).”

What was clear — something transformed Luke after he graduated. “He did OK in high school, but after he joined the military he was a star,” his brother said.

Milam was the first in his family to enter a medical field, dedicating himself to helping people deal with injuries and death in combat situations.

“Luke was responsible for the health and well-being of the men in his platoon,” Keith Milam said. “He basically served as their doc — from everyday aches and pains to severe combat trauma.”

Recognition followed. The Purple Heart was just one of many awards. Another — one the family is especially proud of — was being named Special Operations Command Operator of the Year.

Milam, who remained single, chose the military as his career. But he never lost a chance to return to Colorado for his favorite sports, from mountain biking and hiking, to scuba diving and sky diving.

Funeral arrangements for Thursday are pending with Drinkwine Mortuary. As word of Milam’s death spreads to childhood friends, his old Scout troop and to military buddies, the anticipated crowd continues to grow larger and larger, his brother said.

Burial will be at Fort Logan National Cemetery. Milam’s commanding officer is escorting his body back to Colorado from Dover Air Force Base.

“I think that speaks to how valuable Luke was to his organization,” his older brother said. “He was the best of the best.”

Luke Milam

Charles Luke Milam
Charles Luke Milam

Luke Milam was not only big and strong but saw himself as the man his Marine Corps brothers could turn to in combat if they were hurt. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Navy petty officer from Littleton was a hospital corpsman trained to care for Marines engaged in special-combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Milam, 26, was on patrol with coalition forces in Afghanistan when they apparently were hit by a rocket attack near the town of Musa Qula.

Musa Qula lies in an opium-poppy growing area of Afghanistan where the Taliban has engaged in prolonged and fierce battles with British and U.S. troops this summer.

Milam, highly decorated in three earlier tours in Iraq, was killed in what Keith Milam, his oldest brother, said appeared to be an ambush.

But Keith Milam of Nashville said his brother — a 1999 Columbine High School graduate — was doing what he wanted to do. “Luke loved his job. He was living a dream,” Keith Milam said today. “He felt it was his calling to help the guys around him.”

“If there were guys in harm’s way, he needed to be there to take care of them,” he added.

At the time of his death, Milam was assigned to the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion.

Keith Milam said his brother was a “real outdoorsy guy” whose life revolved around backpacking, mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, scuba diving and skydiving.

“He loved anything outdoors. He liked to keep in shape,” said his sister, Jaeme Milam of Denver. Jaeme Milam said her kid brother — the youngest of her three brothers — was following in the military footsteps of brother Keith and grandfather Charles.

He was planning to make the military his career, she said. “He loved what he did. He loved his guys and would have done anything for them,” she said.

Luke was awarded the Purple Heart from a wound suffered in Iraq; the Bronze Star; two Combat Action ribbons; two Good Conduct Medals; two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; the National Defense Service Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; and two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.

Keith Milam said that the outpouring of sympathy has been overwhelming. “He was highly regarded by the Navy and was even regarded more by the Marine Corps,” Keith Milam said. “We have heard from members of his unit. We understand that his commanding general and officer plan to attend the funeral at Fort Logan.”

In addition to his brother and sister, he is survived by his parents, Michael and Rita Milam of Seattle, and his brother Andrew of Denver.

Services for family and friends will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, at Drinkwine Mortuary in Littleton, followed by a 1 p.m. service at Fort Logan National Cemetery.

The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Charles during the month of Feb 2008 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with Charles’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

Inside the Chaplain’s Closet

Landstuhl Generosity

Inside the Chaplain’s Closet

The American Legion Magazine March 2008


The Wounded Warrior Ministry Center began as some boxes in a hallway, full of donations from the staff and community. Today, it fills a couple of temporary buildings, something of a miniature PX where Landstuhl patients can pick up personal items to get them through a few days at the hospital. All the items represent the generosity of American people, says Landstuhl’s senior chaplain., Col. James Griffith. “Civilian clothes are not a class of military supply,” he says. “This is more like humanitarian aid to our soldiers.”

Patients usually take one to two t-shirts, tow white undershirts, a sweatshirt and loose-fitting sweat pants, two to three pairs of boxers or boxer briefs, four pairs of socks, shower shoes and a duffel bag to carry it all. Women’s undergarments are also stocked, as well as house slippers, athletic shoes, flannel pajama bottoms, washcloths, nail clippers and travel-size toiletries: deodorant, shampoo, shaving gel, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Donations also allow the “chaplain’s closet” to offer CDs, DVDs handheld games, phone cards, puzzle books, snack bars, chocolate, candy, chewing gum, and greeting cards for family or friends.

The hospital can’t, and doesn’t, solicit contributions, so Griffith credits churches, charities and veterans service organizations – including The American Legion – for providing these and other comfort items that he says make a patient’s stay “a bit more palatable and a bit more pleasant.” Dozens of boxes arrive every day. Since 9/11, an estimated $2 million in goods and money have been donated.

Volunteers pay their own way to Germany to work at the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center. Last year, Karen Grimord of Stafford, VA., spent 30 days there, receiving deliveries and making sure patients found items they needed. With a father, father-in-law, husband, son, son-in-law, two brothers, brother-in-law, cousin and two nephews who are veterans – “an American Legion Family,” she says – Grimord pours a lot of time and money into helping LRMC.

“It’s the troops,” she says. “All you’ve got to do is talk to them, and you know right away that you have to do more.”

While the Department of Defense gives all OEF and OIF patients a $250 voucher to the Army/Air Force Exchange Service, that money stretches only so far. So Grimord founded the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, which posts a list of what the hospital needs – and doesn’t need – at Patients, for instance, don’t want full-size toiletries; most stay only a few days. Old magazines, men’s briefs, single razor blades, water bottles, canned food and adaptive foot or hand covers also take up valuable space.

So what do they want? Dark clothes are in – black, gray, blue. And nothing with a corporate logo; patients don’t want to feel like a walking advertisement. But they do have a sense of humor. Last fall, soldiers went bananas over a large donation of flannel pants featuring the “Sarge” character from the Pixar/Walt Disney animated film “Cars.”

“They’re the most popular PJ’s I’ve seen in three years of volunteering,” Grimord says, laughing. “Sarge is loved dearly.”

America Supports You Summit 2008

In November 2004, the Department of Defense launched the America Supports You program to highlight and communicate the support of the American people to members of our armed forces and their families.America Supports You makes a direct connection between grassroots groups and our troops.The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project is a proud member of the America Supports You family!!

Agenda for Summit

Summit Welcome and Opening Remarks
Freedom Walk Remarks
Allison Barber
Finding the Resources to Accomplish Your Mission
David Coker-James D. Weiskopf
Writing an Effective Grant Proposal
Nancy Withbroe
Compassion Fatigue: Coping with Burnout
Dr. Joseph Bobrow
Motivate and Mobilize Your Volunteer Force
Lisa Crittenden Hardwick
Exploiting New Media for Cyberspace Presence
Lt Col. Francisco Hamm, Jamie Findlater
Media Session: How to Target Local Media
Judy Whittlesey- Debra Preitkis, Lindsay Mosher
America Supports You Website Presentation
Les Benito
Summit Closing Remarks
Dr. Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense


WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2008

ASY Summit
ASY Summit

More than 180 representatives of 122 troop-support groups gathered today at the Pentagon to share information and insights about ways to boost their efforts during the third annual America Supports You National Summit.

Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Allison Barber, the program’s architect, opened the all-day session welcoming the participants she credits with making America Supports You such a big success. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is slated to close the summit, thanking the groups for their contributions.

The Defense Department launched the America Supports you program in November 2004 to showcase support for the country’s men and women in uniform from the American public as well as the corporate sector. More than three years later, it continues to expand, directing people who want to do something to support the troops to myriad initiatives already under way, and enabling those behind these efforts to share ideas and encouragement.

Barber told the group she had no clue when the program first began how big it would grow — with 343 grassroots groups as well as corporate members now participating — or how powerful its impact would be.

ASY Summit
ASY Summit

“What we didn’t know is that we would create this amazing network — an amazing network for you to work together, and an amazing network for our troops to get more support (and) for their families back home to get the support they need … because of what you do,” she said.

The Defense Department counts on America Supports You groups to provide support to troops in ways it and the individual services can’t, Barber said.“

When people ask how they can support the troops,” she said, “we tell them, go to the America Supports You Web site and find our groups who are making a real difference in the lives of our troops and their families.”


Although initially introduced as a campaign, America Supports You has evolved into a permanent Defense Department program.

ASY Summit
ASY Summit

“What we have created is something that will never go away,” Barber told the group. “America Supports You has become institutionalized throughout the Department of Defense because it is our connection to you — citizen support for the men and women in the military.”

The agenda for this year’s America Supports You summit, the largest yet, was built around suggestions from participants in the last summit. It’s packed with breakout sessions designed to help grassroots leaders maintain the momentum they’ve built, Barber said.

Participants are learning how to motivate and manage volunteers, find the resources needed to support their operations and get word out through the media about their efforts. One of the breakout sessions is focusing on compassion fatigue and ways to identify symptoms of burnout and treat it before it takes hold.

“Home-front groups are our first line of support,” Barber said. “Through these sessions, we’re providing some new tools to help them provide that support. We want them to walk out of here refreshed so they can go back home and continue what they’re doing.

“Our goal for this summit is threefold: to let them know how much we appreciate what they’re doing, and to help equip them and encourage them to keep on doing it,” she said.

ASY Summit
ASY Summit

Attendees said they welcomed the opportunity to meet other America Supports You members and swap experiences and ideas.

Calvin K. Coolidge, program director for Freedom Alliance, returned for his second summit to pick up more tips for his group, which provides scholarships and grants to children whose parents have been killed or permanently disabled in combat. Coolidge said he benefitted from last year’s meeting, where he learning new processes and better ways to communicate and work with the military.

“It’s a real benefit to have the opportunity to meet new people and talk about how they are doing things and how to do things better to be more effective,” he said.

ASY Summit
ASY Summit

Ann Johnson, founder of the Adopt a U.S. Soldier program, is attending her first America Supports You summit with hopes of learning how to improve her operations, which rely solely on volunteers. Jeff and Patti Patton-Bade from the Soldiers’ Angels group traveled from Pasadena, Calif., for ideas for their program, which sends care packages to deployed troops and supports fallen heroes’ families.

“We came here for the opportunity to network with everyone else,” Patti said. “If every one of our groups communicated with each other, imagine the kind of support we could offer.”

Decorated Door for Wounded Wins!!

And the door decorating winner is …
Julia LeDoux


Angie Hawkins door
Angie Hawkins, director of corporate security for ProLogic, Inc., in Manassas, decorated her office door with a patriotic flair for the company’s annual holiday decorating contest and donated her winnings to Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.

Every year since 2004 ProLogic-Inc. in Manassas has sponsored a contest that encourages staffers to decorate their doors for the holiday season as a team building exercise.

This year, Angie Hawkins, the company’s director of corporate security, decorated her door with a patriotic flair and came in second place in the contest.

“This year I decided that my theme would be based on supporting our troops and their families,” explained Hawkins, who has worked for ProLogic for five years and has oversight of the company’s entire corporate security infrastructure. “I encouraged staff members to donate time, money and encouragement to these organizations.”

White wrapping paper with blue and green snowflakes served as the backdrop for a photo of a HUMVEE, a Christmas tree made out of construction paper decorated with yellow ribbons and information about how the public can support the nation’s military on Hawkins’ door.

Employees judged each door during a punch and cookies ceremony at the end of the two-week competition in December. After the votes were counted each winner was given a monetary gift based on their placement in the contest.

Hawkins donated her $75 in winnings to the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project and made a dollar-for-dollar match of the winnings. When combined with other contributions Hawkins’ collected, she donated a total of $250 to LHCP, a non-profit organization that provides comfort and relief items for military members who become sick, injured or wounded from service in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.

Donated items are distributed to military patients at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American military hospital outside the U.S.; to field hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq; and to VA facilities throughout the United States.

“I have never met Ms. Hawkins, but there is no need to to know we are connected,” said LHCP president Karen Grimord. “I have six family members that have served in the Middle East, one serving his second tour now. We both know what it means to the troops to know they have our support. I just put a thank you note on our Web site from a troop that received some of our packages and in part it says, ‘I want to say a huge thank you to those who have been supporting Seabees, Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen here and abroad with unbelievable gifts. You have reminded not only us here but the gals and guys in uniform that we treat that we matter to you. We’re so grateful for that support.’ Ms. Hawkins and her group have made it possible to continue our mission of support into the New Year.”


Nicholas Gummersall

Nicholas A. Gummersall—January 2008 Shipment Honoree

Friends of Sgt. Gummersall Talk About His Life

Source:, August 9, 2007 
Sgt. Nicholas Gummersall
Sgt. Nicholas Gummersall

The Pocatello soldier who died in Iraq Monday when the building he entered exploded is being remembered.

Reports indicate that 23-year-old Sgt. Nick Gummersall and three other soldiers were killed outside of Baghdad. Gummersall was serving his third tour in Iraq and served another one in Afghanistan.

We received an e-mail from a fellow soldier who says Gummersall was one of the finest he served with. In his e-mail, Staff Sergeant Michael Bloom says, “He was one of the best soldiers you could serve with, and a good friend.”

Others may remember him more from his days as a stand out athlete at Century High School, where he helped the football team to two consecutive state championships. While there, he was also an all-state wrestler and spent three years with the varsity baseball team.

Family and friends say although there is no memorial service planned yet, there is one way to honor the fallen soldier.

Lewis Jensen, family friend: “Do everything to the fullest, like he did. He lived life to the fullest and had a great time doing it. Everyone that knows him can think of a great story and all the fun times they had with him.”

Gummersall’s body will return to American soil within the next 24-48 hours. We’re told he’ll be taken to Dover Air Force Base in Maryland. He’ll be there three to ten days before he comes back to Pocatello. Still no word on when a funeral will take place.

Nicholas Aaron Gummersall

Nicholas Gummersall
Nicholas Gummersall

POCATELLO – Nicholas Aaron Gummersall, 23, was born in Pocatello, Idaho, on October 24, 1983, to Clay Gummersall and Carol Gummersall.

Nick was a graduate of Century High School, class of 2002, where he was active in football, where he brought home back-to-back state titles, baseball, wrestling and track. He was an amazing athlete. After high school he red-shirted for the Idaho State Bengals. His true passion was football.

Nick knew that he was meant to make a difference in many lives, so on September 30, 2003, he enlisted in the Army. He would later become an Airborne Ranger 2nd Battalion, “Ten feet tall and bullet proof,” Nick Gummersall.

Nick was the second son of six kids. He is survived by his mom and dad, Carol and Clay; best friend and older brother, Casey, 24; his sister-in-law, Haley, 23; his baby sisters, Kristine, 21, Kamie, 18, Kadee, 13; and his mini-me, Derek, 15.

Nick was so full of life with never-ending dreams and goals. He had a personality no one could ignore, or help but love. Everyone who came into contact with him was forever touched and a friend.

He will be sorely missed, always treasured and forever loved. Nick will live forever in our memories and our hearts.

Funeral services for Sgt. Gummersall, fallen soldier in Iraq, will be 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 17 at the Century High School football field, 7801 Diamondback Dr., Pocatello. The family will receive friends Thursday, Aug. 16 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Colonial Funeral Home, 2005 S. Fourth Ave., Pocatello. The public also is invited to visit a memorial erected in his honor at Colonial Funeral Home.

Memorial Service For Sergeant Nick Gummersall Held

Source: by Genevieve Judge, Local 8 News
August 19, 2007

In Pocatello Friday morning, a hometown hero was finally laid to rest.  Sergeant Nick Gummersall is being remembered as a friend, brother, son and hero.

Hundreds of friends and family arrived at Century High School Friday morning to pay their final respects to Sergeant Nick Gummersall.  “Proud of what he did but very sad for the family and his passing.  It’s a hard thing to go through.” Says Eldon and Gloria Peck, friends of the Gummersall family.

Nick Gummersall
Nick Gummersall

Sergeant Nick Gummersall’s body was taken around the Century High School football field one final time before friends and family say goodbye.  Eye of the Tiger played as Sergeant Gummersall’s body was brought out.

The memorial service was held at the football field where he played football as a diamondback for back-to-back state titles before graduating in 2002.  “Its a good send off to be on the field because that’s where he loved to be is to play football.” Says Cole Beebe, a friend of Sgt. Gummersall.

“Nick put his arm around our son and said this is my bud and it’s an awesome experience and he was like that with everybody he never knew or met.” Says Eldon and Gloria Peck.

Governor Otter along with the First Lady, Pocatello Mayor Roger Chase and Chubbuck Mayor Steve England in addition to many dignitaries from the military and close to a thousand family and friends celebrated the life of the Gate City hero.  Sharing personal stories, laughter and songs.

“He was an ugly baby to everyone except mom.  His bald, misshaped head was something only a mother could love.” Says Casey Gummersall, Sgt. Gummersall’s brother.

“He seemed to really like doing what he did.  Last time I talked to him, you could just tell he was proud of it.  We’re going to just miss him and he was a good friend.” Says Kevin Sutphin, friend of the Gummersall family.

Sergeant Gummersall is the second Century High School graduate and the second Pocatello solider to be killed fighting in the war in Iraq.

After the memorial service, a graveside service was held at Restlawn Memorial Park in Pocatello.