I attended the annual awards dinner put on by No Greater Sacrifice, a group that provides college educations for the children of fallen and wounded warriors. That is obviously a great cause and the evening was a fitting tribute to out warrior class and the families that support them.
One of the awardees was the family of a guy who has been featured here as Someone You Should Know, LTC Tim Karcher and his wife and three daughters. His story of perseverence in the face of near fatal injuries should inspire anyone. Now he and his wife know that whatever comes of his military career, his daughters will all have the opportunity to go to school. They were all there and spoke of just what that means to them as Tim continues to serve and his family continues supporting him and living their lives.
SSG LaBrand Strickland of the 82nd Airborne. his wife and two sons were also recipients of college funds. When his son told how he never thought that his Dad could get hurt because he was so strong and athletic, everyone in the audience teared up. But they were positive and upbeat, as was LaBrand and he told how his survival convinced him he was kept alive because he had important things to do, you just knew it was true.
There were two folks given the Freedom award and the first was a truly amazing soldier SFC Joe Kapacziewski who CJ profiled here.
When Staff Sgt. Joe Kapacziewski headed out on a mission Oct. 3, 2005, it seemed like an average day in Iraq. As his squad went under a bridge, the unit was ambushed and a grenade detonated just a few feet away from Kapacziewski. For Kapacziewski, the attack set in a motion an extensive recovery process that would forever change the Ranger – yet what didn’t change despite the incident was his commitment to his fellow Rangers and his desire to serve his country.
Due to damage from the detonation, Kapacziewski underwent more than 40 surgeries to repair the shattered bones and damaged ligaments and tendons before his right leg was finally amputated. In addition to the amputation, his injuries included a severed median nerve and brachial artery in his right arm and deep tissue wounds on his hip. Kapacziewski was awarded three Purple Hearts for his injuries and also received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor for his meritorious service and leadership.
Today, Kapacziewski continues to lead Rangers on special operations and infantry missions – with his prosthetic leg.
That's right and he just returned from his 9th combat tour in Afghanistan as a platoon sergeant with the Ranger Regiment. Wow, doesn't even begin to cover it. RLTW!
The final awardee was one of the greatest combat leader our country has produced, Gen. Ray Odierno. I don't think I need to tell any of you here what an amazing officer and American he is. Almost five years in Iraq making sure that no matter what happened back in America, we would drive on and win. And we did. Thank you sir, from all of us.
A great event, a great cause and some great Americans. What a way to lead into Memorial Day weekend. Remember the fallen, and enjoy the freedom they bought you with their sacrifices.