Landstuhl Hospital Care Project has long honored today’s war veterans by sending shipments of personal care items to wounded warriors recovering from their wounds at the Army medical center in Germany.
On May 22, members of the nonprofit, headquartered in Stafford County, honored yesterday’s heroes by participating in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
“It’s hard to put into words what an honor it is to pay tribute to the real heroes, the ones that have actually died and made the ultimate sacrifice for the country,” said Army Sgt. Joe Santolla. “I don’t feel worthy of doing it.”
Santolla was one of four participants who took part in the ceremony on behalf of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project. The soft-spoken Santolla was wounded by a roadside bomb in May of 2009 and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was talked into participating in the wreath laying ceremony by his wife and daughter.
“I really didn’t want to do it to begin with. I didn’t feel like I earned it,” he said.
Combat medic Michelle Gray, a veteran of both the Air Force and Army Reserves, took part in a motorcycle ride that benefited Landstuhl Hospital Care Project in early May, where she met the organization’s president, Karen Grimord. It was during that ride that Grimord asked Gray if she would like to take part in the wreath laying ceremony.
“I don’t think there’s any words,” she said before the wreath laying. “I can’t describe how it feels.”
Paul Russo, who served as project’s civic/corporate representative for the ceremony, is a veteran of the Air Force and National Guard who currently works as a local veterans employment representative for the Department of Labor.
“I think it’s unbelievable that I’m here today to do this,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be part of this.
For more information on the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project, visit its website at LandstuhlHospitalCareProject.org.