Our sixth recipient from this past weekend is David Glover, U.S. Army. Sgt. Glover enlisted in July 1999 and was discharged in Nov. 2006. He was an 11B (infantry) assigned to 2/27, 25th ID. He deployed to OEF from ‘04-‘05 earning his CIB during that tour. Prior to his deployment he was a part of Operation Noble Eagle at the Pentagon and sadly was at work on 9/11 and witnessed the plane crash into the Pentagon. He and others worked tirelessly for several weeks afterwards first performing search/rescue and later recovery. He was nominated by his significant other, Ashley who lost her first husband, Dustin Lukasiewicz a Marine Capt. to a helicopter crash in Nepal while on a rescue mission for those affected by the earthquake there. Wonderful family. We did it up right afterwards with a low country boil and beverages. Thanks Norm LaFountaine for the adult supervision!
Our 5th veteran of the weekend is another Purple Heart recipient from the War on Terror. Meet Matt Kopcsak, U.S. Army. Matt entered the service in Mar. 1998 and was discharged in Oct. 2004. Sgt. Kopcsak was a 12B assigned to the 70th Engineer Battalion. He was wounded in action in Jan. 2004 while deployed to Al Monsoor, Iraq when the soft-skinned HUMVEE was riding in was struck by a VBIED (vehicle borne improvised explosive device). Matt lost his driver and up gunner but somehow he survived. Matt was nominated by Norm LaFountaine, himself a flagpole recipient (#400 to be exact). Thanks Jody Hillyer for the help and to H&W Off Road for the sponsorship and Flagpoles Etc for the partnership!
Our last recipient for the day is also our second Marine of the weekend. Meet Josh Gartner, USMC and ILL. National Guard. Josh entered the Marine Corps first in May 1993 and was and discharged in May 1998. Sgt. Gartner was an 0311/2161. He rejoined the service in Oct. 2008 with the IL National Guard keeping his rank of Sgt. as an 11B. He deployed to Shindan Province, AFG and was wounded in action by an IED that struck his HUMVEE. He was discharged in Oct. 2012.
Our Third recipient from Friday is Walter Steinsik, USMC and Vietnam veteran. Walter entered the service to his country in Aug. 1968 and was discharged in July 1970 after twice being wounded in action. Sgt. Steinsik was an 0311 (infantry) assigned to E Co. 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Division. He was sent in-country in Aug. 1968 and came home June 1970. He was wounded in action the first time in Nov. 1969 by shrapnel from a hand grenade North of DaNang and South of Phu Bai. When I asked him about his second injury he asked me “why, nobody cares”. He still carries the bitterness of a nation that never welcomed him home and he never answered the question. Please welcome him home and show him some love! I had a special guest that helped with the install, MOH recipient and friend Bob Patterson. It was a great end to a great day.
Recipient number two is unique. Chris Hankinson never served in the Armed Forces but he served honorably as a Corrections Officer for Escambia County Jail for 17 years until he was paralyzed after an explosion at the jail while on duty. Since I know the owner pretty good, I decided he could use one. He was nominated by a few low corrections officer Dave Holland. Chris is an inspiration to all and he was deeply appreciative of the gesture. We even had some local news coverage show up to interview him.
Here’s the first of 6 installs this past weekend in Florida. Everyone meet Doug Wilmoth, US Navy (Ret.). Doug entered the service in Sept. 1992 and retired after 23 years of service to his country in May, 2015. Chief (E-7) Wilmoth was an Aviation Boatsan’s Mate and spent time on three vessels, USS Carl Vincent, USS John C. Stennis and the USS New York (of which he is a plank owner). Doug did dozens of deployments around the world including direct support to OEF/OIF and at least 5 Med. cruises. He was sponsored by Gina Rose Canaday and Jack Canady, both veterans themselves and previous recipients from FFV. Thanks also to Jody Hillyer to the help and Flagpoles Etc for the beautiful flagpole kit.
Today is Flag Day! That beautiful piece of red, white and blue cloth which stands for our country, for our hopes, our struggles and our love for her. To those who think otherwise and who desecrate her, mock her or disrespect her I’ve made it my mission to show otherwise. It’s why I’ve spent the past 3 years honoring our nation’s veterans with the gift of her. Such as this past weekend. We traveled to the panhandle of Florida to gift 6 more deserving individuals who served their country and their community. Most of them this weekend shed their blood on foreign soil to protect that right of those who choose to mock our flag. So please welcome these men to the Flags for Vets family and fly those colors proud!
Yesterday we travel up the road to The Beauregard community to honor our 438th veteran, Mike Manley, USN Seabees and US Army. Mike served in Vietnam and retired after more than 20 years. Thank you for your service Mike and thank you to James Thrift for the sponsorship of his third veteran. Be like James...help us honor our nation’s treasures by sponsoring an install.
On Friday, June 5th, I traveled to Covenant Woods Senior home in Columbus, GA to honor two WWII veterans with a porch mounted flagpole and flag. Nona Christie, the Manager, invited WTVM to cover the event and interview the two gentlemen (practicing social distancing). We waited out the rain storm, had a small ceremony and welcomed our 436th and 437th members to the FFV family. Interviews were conducted and video shot. John Bryson, U.S. Navy and Jack Pierce, USMC. Both fought on Okinawa serving their country honorably. It was a pleasure to meet them and thank them for their service. We took a few pictures and waited for the news cast that evening. Unfortunately, it never made it on air. My guess is because it wasn’t sensational enough or controversial enough, or it didn’t portray the message of gloom and doom....whatever. At any rate, here they are. Please welcome them aboard. Thanks Nona Christie and thanks to our sponsor H&W Off Road along with Flagpoles Etc. for the support!
June 6th, 1944 D-Day where 156,000 American, British, Australian and Canadian troops landed on 5 beach heads (Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno) covering a stretch of 50 miles. It took 4 days to actually secure the entire landing zone. More than 4,413 casualties were estimated during that timeframe. Omaha was the bloodiest landing followed (2,400 casualties) closely by Utah with its more than 100 ft. Sheer cliffs that had to be taken by Army Rangers. Gold, Sword and Juno were assigned to the British, Australian and Canadian soldiers. At the Juno landing zone, estimates are that more than 50% of the Canadian troops were killed by withering German machine gun fire before they made it off the beach but by the end of the campaign they secured more towns and covered more ground than any other battalion. The battle of Normandy ran until August and was the turning point of the war. Less than one year later Germany surrendered on May 7th, 1945 otherwise known as V-E Day. Remind your kids about today, share history with them before it’s erased and all those who fought in it are gone like the first Great World War.
Okay, we’re almost a quarter way to our goal. Thank you so much to those who’ve contributed to this point. I’ll get a list when this is done to thank you personally. Share the link on your friends list. You don’t have to be local. I travel all over the country and have 4 chapters in other states that want to help and have helped.
Opelika Giving Day is just hours away. Here’s where we stand as of right now. Go to: www.opelikagivingday.org And donate please. #myopelika #opelikagivingday #honoringthosewhoservedffv
Yesterday was a productive afternoon. We installed four more flagpoles honoring an OIF/OEF vet, Vietnam vet and Korean War veteran. One of the installs went to Memoet Hill Cemetary, which is the final resting place of 20 black veterans who served their ccountry thru the two great world wars and other conflicts. We’ll give each their due later but for now, I hope this interrupts the negativity on everyone’s feed right now. Thanks Bill Satterwhite for the sponsorship at Memory Hill. Thank you also Flagpoles Etc and H&W Off-Road for the support!
I’d like to take a minute to recognize a local Purple Heart Recipient, Friend, brother and NEW graduate at Auburn University. Adam Bender served his country honorably and shed his blood in her defense. For that, I wanted to present him with a signed Purple Heart clock, handmade by the wife of Medal if Honor Recipient CSM Robert “Bob” Patterson, USA Vietnam. Linda Patterson, these are beautiful! It’s even more special because you made it. Adam, thank you brother... Semper Fidelis!
We finally got back on the road Friday to honor a local veteran. Staring out slow but steady from here on out. Everyone meet Jesse Ward, USMC. SSgt. Ward enlisted in March 1960 and was discharged in November 1971. He was an 0331/0311 during several tours to Vietnam but was later assigned as NCOIC for 3rd Recon. Jesse’s first tour was ‘65-‘66 with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines assigned to S-2 as a Scout Sniper. After completing Recon School in country he was assigned to 3rd Battalion to n Force Recon and came back for a second tour from ‘68-‘69. Most of his time was spent in Chu Lai, Qyen Yan, and DaNang. He came home with Vietnam campaign medals, a Presidential Unit Citation and a Navy Unit Citation among others. Jesse’s flagpole was a generous gift from The James family including Miss Dora and Sid, who Jesse’s worked for forever! Thanks also to our partner Flagpoles Etc for the beautiful flagpole.