RUN4VETS 2012 McHenry Supports Local Veteran Programs

Join McHenry TLS Veterans and support our local veterans this Veteran’s Day at the first annual RUN4VETS event. Mark your calendar for Nov. 11, 2012 and meet at Lippold Park in Crystal Lake.

The goal of this event is to honor our military and veterans and to let the community know that TLS Veterans is available to them. No veteran should ever be homeless or be hungry.

Mrs. Marge Gunnar & Dr. Rolf Gunnar

Mrs. Marge Gunnar & Dr. Rolf Gunnar at Bravehearts Therapeutic Riding & Educational Center. Photo credit TLS McHenry.

The 5K run starts at 9:00 and the 5K walk begins immediately afterward. RUN4Vets needs volunteers to make sure the day is successful. There are many ways you can help out including:

  • Help secure Sponsors
  • Distribute fliers
  • Set up / clean up
  • Donate new toys
  • Donate item/prize/money
  • Help during the run
  • Whatever / wherever the need is

If you can help out, please contact RUN4VETS through the Volunteer sign up form.

TLS Veterans operates New Horizons, a transitional-living center for homeless veterans in Hebron. TLS also operates a drop-in center in McHenry, IL, that serves as a hub for a Lake-McHenry County initiative focusing on the well-being of veterans and military families. Peer support by veterans is the key for this initiative’s major goals to cut veteran homelessness, suicide prevention and reduction of psychiatric hospitalizations by transforming the way services are delivered. 

The Voices of Veterans Writer’s Group, open to all military veterans meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 6-8PM. There is no cost to participate in this program.

Please bring a new unwrapped toy to RUN4VETS Toys For Toys collection for local McHenry County residents, veterans and their families.

Toys for Tot waiting for Santa

Tot waiting for Santa to arrive at the Toys for Tots event. Photo credit TLS McHenry.

Mission Hope Chicago and Cubejumpers IT join forces at Crystal Lake Chamber

Mission Hope Chicago and Cubejumpers IT combined forces this past weekend for the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce EXPO 2012. The two organizations teamed up to raise funds towards sending care-packages overseas to US Troops.

“Our goal is to raise $500 for Mission Hope Chicago this weekend” said Steve Smith of Cubejumpers prior to event. “We appreciate everything they have been doing for our soldiers and want to further their cause.”

Cubejumpers Support Our Troops 6th Branch Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce EXPO 2012

Cubejumpers: Doug, Chris, Steve. Photo credit: Ben Thompson.

Steve with his EXPO team Doug and Chris, exceeded their goal raising $654 during the two-day event. Cubejumpers also provided laptop health checks to all donors giving more than $20 to MHC.

6th Branch Support The Troops Crystal Lake Chamber of COmmerce EXPO 2012

Photo credit: Ben Thompson.

6th Branch Soldiers served popcorn during the event, handing out over 1,000 cups of fresh popped kettle corn to very excited, and hungry attendees. Rental Max of Lake Zurich graciously donated the popcorn machine for the weekend, drawing hundreds to the Support The Troops booth.

6th Branch, Mission Hope Chicago and Cubejumpers IT raise funds towards sending care-packages overseas to US Troops.

Chris, Steve, Doug of Cubejumpers IT and Ben Thompson 6th Branch / Mission Hope Chicago raise funds towards sending care-packages overseas to US Troops.

The EXPO committee and the CL Chamber really did a great job with this event, they always go beyond the call of duty for their members providing nothing short of excellence. 6th Branch is looking forward to Community Cleanup Day on April 21st, which is sure to be another First Class event hosted by CL Chamber, co-sponsored by 6th Branch and many other great local businesses. Mark your calendars!

6th Branch extends a special thank you to everyone who attended and participated in the 2012 EXPO and especially to those who contributed, have contributed, and continue to serve our military heroes. They pray for every man, woman, husband, wife, father, mother, son, and daughter to come home safely and quickly…In the meantime, they continue to send love and support to those who risk it all in the name of FREEDOM. We cannot afford to take it for granted, Freedom is NOT Free.

POW/MIA Tragic Realities and a Love Story

On a warm December morning, we met Carole and Jim Hickerson at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. We were invited to attend an Arrival Ceremony for the recovered remains of six World War II and Vietnam War military personnel. Their transfer cases would then delivered to the forensics lab for identification, family notification and burial. Carole and Jim retired to the island of Oahu and attend a half dozen of these solemn ceremonies each year.

Carole and Jim Hickerson at arrival ceremony Hickam AFB

Carole and Jim Hickerson at arrival ceremony for U.S. military personnel at Hickam AFB December 9, 2011

It is important to this pair to pay their respects to those who gave all for their country and they attend as many Arrival Ceremonies as their schedule permits. The remains of Carole Hickerson’s husband, a Marine pilot, came through Hickam in this manner in 2002. His body was escorted home, in full dress uniform and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

During the years her husband was missing in action, Carole was frustrated by the lack of transparency from the U.S. government. There was no communication on the progress in finding and returning those service personnel who were unaccounted for during the war. While her husband was missing, she designed the image which later became the well known graphic on the black POW/MIA flag. She is quick to note she is not responsible for creating the flag itself.

Around 1970, my Godmother, Joyce Mary Moses, gave me a silver POW/MIA bracket inscribed with a soldier’s name and the date he went missing in action.

“Lt. Roger B. Innes, MIA 12-27-67″

Carole Hickerson was instrumental in developing the POW/MIA bracelet program to build awareness and public support for the return of our soldiers. I wore this bracelet for many years until the metal fatigued. In March of this year, I visited the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Washington D.C and found the name Lt. Roger B. Innes etched on one of the panels.

Roger B. Innes , a solder killed in action, on Vietnam Memorial Wall Washington DC

The name, Roger B. Innes, a solder killed in action during the Vietnam War, on Vietnam Memorial Wall Washington DC

Carole and her current husband Jim met through National League of Families of America’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia.

Jim Hickerson, a U.S. Navy Captain, was a prisoner of war in Hanoi after his aircraft was shot down over Vietnam. He spent five years in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. Carole stated while Jim was a prisoner of war, his then wife “decided not to wait for him.”

Now retired from the Navy, Jim is active with the privately funded Pacific Aviation Museum on Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island. He enjoys military history and all the back stories that make the past come to life. Jim shared this story with us:

“A girl was buried on the U.S.S. Utah which sank on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the twin daughters of the ship’s captain had died and the captain brought her remains aboard prior to the attack. The ship was prepared to sail the next day and the grieving father planned to bury his daughter at sea. The ship never sailed out of port. It was one of the many ships bombed and sunk just after dawn that day. The captain and his daughter’s body were forever entombed in the wreckage. Jim says this back story came out when the surviving twin visited Ford Island later in her life.”

Carole and Jim are celebrating 37 years of marriage. Congratulations to you both!

Six War Veterans’ Remains Arrive at Hickam AFB for Identification

The remains of six soldiers arrived at Hickam Air Force base in Honolulu, Hawaii today. We attended the ceremony hosted by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command held in Hanger 35 on base. The transfer cases will move to the JPAC Central Identification Lab where forensic analysis will attempt to identify these individuals, then notify their next of kin.

The short program opened with a powerful voice singing our national anthem. A joint service honor guard and senior officers from each military branch were there this morning to pay their respects. Several hundred people gathered as the six flag draped, transfer cases surrounded by an honor guard were carried off the C-17 transport aircraft onto two awaiting buses.

The first five transfer cases carried World War II remains recovered from the United Kingdom, Canada, Vanuatu, Germany and Papua New Guinea. The sixth case was a Vietnam loss recovered in Laos.

Attending the service were veterans including a group of Purple Heart award recipients, active duty military personnel and media. The solemn service ended with a lone bugler playing taps.

Soldiers Remains return to Hickam AFB Honolulu

The remains of six soldiers return to Hickam AFB Honolulu for identification

Representatives from each service pay their respects as the remains of unknown soldiers are returned

Representatives from each service pay their respects as the remains of unknown soldiers are returned

We also spoke with a couple of Hawaii residents who attend as many of these events as possible. The remains of Carole Hickerson’s husband came through Hickam in this manner in 2002. His body was escorted home, in full dress uniform and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. She was visibly moved by the proceedings this morning.

She met her current husband, Jim Hickerson through National League of Families of America’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia. Jim was a prisoner of war in Hanoi after his aircraft was shot down over Vietnam. He spent five years in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. He and Carole attend about six of these arrival ceremonies each year.

Since 1970, the U.S. government has identified remains of 1,770 American military personnel and reunited them with their families.

Mission Hope Chicago Operation Supports Our Troops

The goal of Mission Hope Chicago’s Support Our Troops drive is to provide care packages for all 225,000 deployed US soldiers to remind them that we appreciate their service. Since Memorial Day 2011, they have delivered packages to over 3,250 solders.

Mission Hope Chicago partners with Operation Support Our Troops to determine items requested by deployed solders. Donations are used to purchase and ship these goods overseas. What’s on these soldier’s wish lists? Things we often take for granted in the United States. Most requested items include:

  • Tuna
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Crackers
  • Canned soup and pasta
  • Granola bars
  • Canned nuts
  • Eye drops
  • Foot powder

Collection sites are conveniently located throughout the Chicagoland area.

Troops also appreciate your cards and letters of support. A tax deductible contribution of $200 will purchase packages for 10 soldiers and cover shipping expenses. Gifts of any amount is welcome.

Submit your soldier’s address to Support Our Troops. For more information on the program,  email Ben Thompson. Mission Hope Chicago is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization.

Ben Thompson working one of the many Mission Hope Operation Support Our Troops donation collection events

Operation Sweet Tooth Piece A Cake Bakery Dundee Illinois

The folks at Piece A Cake Bakery in Dundee, Illinois are cooking up something special. Roger and Diane Ahrens, both former Marines, bake delicious cookies, cakes and pies to satisfy any sweet tooth. You can visit their bakeries in East Dundee and in Gilberts, Illinois.

They also support our troops year round through Operation Sweet Tooth. For just the cost of shipping, about $20, you can send a sweet care package to a friend or loved one serving in our military overseas. The Ahrens will whip up a large box filled with cookies carefully wrapped to prevent damage and ship the package to our troops. The boxes are filled with plenty of cookies to share. The couple has donated and shipped over 10,500 cookies in 7000 boxes since they started Operation Sweet Tooth in 2004.

Click here for more information, drop by their stores or call them at 847.836.6703 (East Dundee).
Piece-A-Cake Bakery on Urbanspoon

World War Two Pearl Harbor Survivor Herbert Weatherwax

We are enjoying our visit to Honolulu on the always beautiful island of Oahu in Hawaii. Yesterday we visited the Pearl Harbor Memorial and met a 92 year old Pearl Harbor survivor of the day which has lived in infamy, Dec. 7, 1941. Herb Weatherwax was born in Oahu and was at Pearl Harbor during the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Herb later served in the Battle of the Bulge before fighting in Germany.

Raised in Hawaii, Herb found the Midwest winters too cold and returned to the Hawaiian Islands after World War II. Herb can be found volunteering at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center three days a week. He enjoys meeting with and signing autographs for the thousands of visitors he meets each year.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” Turn up your speakers and listen as Herbert Weatherwax introduces himself to you. Enjoy this history moment of history.

I am very grateful to have met several Pearl Harbor survivors on my travels to Hawaii. Many of these soldiers toured the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center last year for the final Pearl Harbor Survivors reunion. As they reach their 90’s it is harder for them to travel, especially long distances. Here are the stories of other Pearl Harbor survivors.

%d bloggers like this: