Thanks to its founder, Dana Bowman, I had the honor of attending this year’s HALO for Freedom Warriors weekend in Dallas, TX attended by over 30 wounded warriors and many Medal of Honor recipients to find out what clothing needs veteran amputees might have.
As per their website: “Warrior Weekend to Remember is an exciting combination of activities meant to enrich the lives of our active duty and veteran men and women injured in combat or training. Up to thirty Wounded Warriors will participate throughout the weekend. The combination of activities is sure to put a smile on their face.”
And boy was it memorable. Attending the event were heroes we should all know by name.
Honored guests included
Medal of Honor Recipient-Navy SEAL, LT Michael Thornton
Medal of Honor Recipient-Navy SEAL, LT Thomas Norris,
Medal of Honor Recipient-Navy HMN1, ANG Col Donald Ballard,
Medal of Honor Recipient-Army LTC Bruce P. Crandall
Navy SEAL – CMC Hershel Davis
Army Air Corps Lt – Calvin J. Spann – Tuskegee Airman
USAF Col – Joe Kittinger
USMC Sgt, Force Recon – Jeff Kyle
USAF Col, Astronaut – Frederick Gregory
and Tommy Norris. MOH recipient Leroy Petry, Navy Seal Vietnam Veteran Herschel Davis, Fred Gregory, Astronaut USAF
See their bios here.
And more heroes:
James Sides USMC, who gave an arm and eye
Kiel Vickers who gave a leg
SFC Cedric King, ARMY, gave both legs ARMY
Jason Morgan, AIR FORCE, paralyzed
SSG John Jones, USMC, double amputee both below the knees
Zachariah Gore, SPC Army, triple amputee
Clebe MCCLARY, Vietnam, gave arm and eye
Col Gregory D. Gadson, US Army, bilateral above-the-knee amputee
Shilo Harris, 90 percent of his body was burned
Jay/Jason Redman, shot 11 times AK47 bullets and started Wounded Wear
Marc Fucarile, Boston Bombing Warrior lost leg
to name a few.
They were proud of their prostheses and should be. They earned them and have stories to tell that we need to hear to be reminded that our freedom is not free. Their needs for clothes focused on fabrics that don’t tear easily rubbing against prosthetic devices or wheelchairs, zippers in the inner pant seams to put on devices, and formal wear to replace the daily shorts (that do the job most days year round for them) on special occasions.
One highlight of my weekend was meeting and spending quality time with Col Joe Kittinger (POW/F18 fighter and 50 year highest skydive jump record) and his wife Sherry, who became quick supporters of our mission:
They not only offered me an autographed copy of his amazing book (which I read in two sittings!) but they have also provided a gift donation to assist us in providing ability clothes to veterans. Awesome people.
For more information and to support HALO for FREEDOM, see http://www.haloforfreedom.org.