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America's Military Charity® 501(c)(3)
2022 Goods and Services Delivered $30,000,000 (est.)
2022 Overhead: Less than 5%
Donate Today

Providing assistance to and promoting support
for America’s troops and their families

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS®
Slide background
America's Military Charity® 501(c)(3)
2022 Goods and Services Delivered $30,000,000 (est.)
2022 Overhead: Less than 5%
Donate Today

Serving Those Who Serve

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS®
[caption id="attachment_3712" align="alignleft" width="300"]FootballTeamBoasts08272010 Army Sgt. Jae Russell, a member of the Illinois Army National Guard, draws on his military experience in his role as a defensive end and team captain for the Springfield Foxes, a semiprofessional football team. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nathan Hastings[/caption] SHERMAN, Ill. – The Springfield Foxes are more than just a central-Illinois semiprofessional football team, thanks to strong military ties.
Jae Russell, a defensive end and team captain for the Foxes, is a sergeant with the Illinois Army National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters in his hometown of Springfield. He said he draws on his experience as noncommissioned officer in charge of training to help him lead his football teammates."The military plays a strong role in leadership, especially being a leader of this team," he said. "Being a [team] captain is overwhelming at times. Everyone is looking at you for answers. I draw on my military experience to help me with these situations."Though the Foxes are in their inaugural season with the Alliance Football League their 5-4 record heading into an Aug. 14 game put them in a position to make the playoffs, a rare achievement for a first-year team. Playing for the Foxes sometimes creates conflicts for Russell, but he said he knows which obligation comes first. "If military obligations and games come into conflict,â€Â he said, “military always wins." Another member of the Foxes also serves in the National Guard. Army Sgt. 1st Class Chris Williams of Sherman is an administrative NCO with the Recruit Sustainment Program Battalion in Springfield. Williams, the special teams coach for the Foxes, said he also believes his training as an NCO is helping him with his role on the football team. "At this stage of my career, being a NCO, leadership roles in the military help with leadership roles outside of the military," he said. "I was a convoy commander, so I was in charge of 10 to 20 soldiers. This helps with having to coach 11 to 12 guys on special teams." Williams said he thinks his and Russell's leadership has helped the Foxes to become playoff contenders. "The team was not a team at the beginning,â€Â Williams said. “Now, it has gelled into a team. Our recent four-game winning streak … comes from learning strengths and weaknesses, knowing each other. This is much like a platoon or squad in the National Guard." The Foxes staff, coaches and members have many connections to the Army National Guard. Army Sgts. 1st Class Richard Hollinshead and Angela Robinson are the brother and sister of head coach Jake Hollinshead. "Not a lot of players are Guard members, but we have a lot of connections," Williams said. The Foxes beat the Chicago Blaze 28-20 in their tenth and final game of the season Aug. 14, extending their winning streak to five games. Williams said he believes Russell gave the Foxes the inspirational speech they needed to hear at a critical point in the game. "We were down 14 to 0, and Sergeant Russell gave such a great speech, I believe it helped continue our winning streak," he said. Aug. 27, 2010: By Army Sgt. Nathan Hastings- 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
[caption id="attachment_3718" align="alignleft" width="300"]FalconsSweepAirspace08262010 Ronald Leu holds Gina, a 5-year-old falcon, July 29, 2010, at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Gina is trained to hunt wildlife near the base’s flightline to help in preventing aircraft damage. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Logan Tuttle[/caption] SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – F-16 Fighting Falcons and other aircraft are a common sight here, but if people stop at the right time and place, they might see falcons on the prowl.
These birds and the base falconer serve an important role in controlling pests that pose a bird-strike threat to airborne jets or can damage aircraft on the ground.Ronald Leu of the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron has been the base falconer here for 10 years. He’s the fulcrum between base officials and the mission-critical predators that keep nuisance populations to tolerable levels. "These birds prey on rabbits, but more importantly, crows," Leu said. "It's important to keep airspace clear so the aircraft can fly as normal." Leu's job as base falconer is part-time; his primary job is making precision machine parts. The falconer releases trained birds of prey to pursue crows, rabbits and other local wildlife that can pose problems for wing operations. Once the falconer sees that a bird has made a successful catch, he quickly meets with it to limit how much it eats. As long as the bird is still hungry, Leu explained, it will continue hunting in the area. The birds do an excellent job at reducing the numbers of animals that pose threats to aircraft, Leu said. "The birds keep the airspace clear of crows, and this lowers the number of bird strikes," he said. One bird, Rosie, is especially adept at catching feral cats. "I wouldn't want to lose Rosie,â€Â Leu said. “She is a very experienced cat hunter. Crows and other birds are much easier to hunt than cats, since [cats] have claws in the front and back, and teeth too." Although he is only seen on base with the birds two to four times each week, Leu said, a lot of time and effort must be spent training the birds and working with them. "I train them for about a month before we begin, but sometimes it's less,â€Â he said. “If you buy birds of prey that are already trained, you also buy some other people's problems." Training and interacting with birds has been a passion for Leu for years. His interest began at the age of 4, he said, when he would seek books and everything else he could find about birds. He owned his first bird when he was 9, and years later owned many sparrows. Aug. 26, 2010: By Air Force Senior Airman Clay Murray-52nd Fighter Wing
 
[caption id="attachment_3734" align="alignleft" width="300"]FormerProBall08242010 Staff Sgt. Trevor Harvey, a chaplain's assistant at the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Fighter Wing, prepares for Catholic Mass on a drill weekend. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Desiree Twombly[/caption] TUSCON – When Air Force Staff Sgt. Trevor Harvey lights the candles on the altar before Mass on drill weekends, he favors the hand that once pitched to Ken Griffey Jr.
"During one game I pitched, he hit a ball over 500 feet," said Harvey, who now serves as the chaplain's assistant with the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Fighter Wing here.Originally from Imlay City, Mich., Harvey started playing baseball at age 7 and he excelled in the sport. Throughout high school, he played varsity baseball. Just before graduation, word spread quickly to local scouts about the 6-foot-5-inch southpaw. During games, Harvey noticed scouts in the stands with radar guns. "Every time I threw a fast ball, the radar guns would come up," he said. "As the games went on and through the end of the season, it wasn't unusual to see more than 30 guys with radar guns in the stands. I knew then something neat was going to happen." Shortly thereafter he received more than 200 letters from colleges from all over the country asking him to play. Harvey was drafted by the Seattle Mariners right out of high school, but he chose to go to Michigan State University to play with the Spartans. "One of the stipulations for signing a professional contract was a clause stating that injury would void the contract," he said. "That meant my education would not be paid for. My parents did not think it was a good idea, given that I already had a scholarship waiting in Michigan." Harvey played for Michigan State from 1990 to 1995. "I got my education paid for and I got an opportunity to travel and play baseball against different schools like Arizona, Texas and Florida," he said. "It was awesome." His senior year in college proved to be a successful one. He received invitations to try out for the Montreal Expos, Detroit Tigers and the Baltimore Orioles. A small independent Canadian team called the Brandon Grey Owls ultimately made him an offer he couldn't refuse. "I was offered a stipend of $700 a month and a place to live. At age 22, that was a big deal," he said. He played a few games for the Owls, but it wasn't long before a scout from the Colorado Rockies took notice of the left-handed pitcher. They made him an offer, and he was on his way to play for the Rockies. Shortly after signing his pro contract, Harvey popped his shoulder out of its socket. Recovery was expected to take 18 months. "The Rockies weren't willing to wait," he said. His professional baseball endeavor was put on hold, and as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, his motivations changed. "I had an epiphany after 9/11," Harvey said. "I felt moved by the events and the reactions of the people in my generation. I had to get involved.â€Â In 2003, he enlisted in the Michigan Air National Guard. Three years later, he relocated to Tucson with his family and joined the 162nd Fighter Wing. He considered a chaplaincy with the Army Guard until he was scouted by the chaplain’s office here. "When you play baseball, everyone on the team wears the same uniform and you help each other out," Harvey said. "That is everything that the Air Force is about. It was such an easy transition. I have loved every minute of my time in the Air Force. "If I had to do it all again,â€Â he added, “I would have given up the Michigan State experience and enlisted at age 18. That is how much I love what I do now." Aug. 24, 2010: By Air Force Master Sgt. Desiree Twombly-Arizona National Guard
[caption id="attachment_3728" align="alignleft" width="300"]SoldierOvercomesSpinal08252010 Army Staff Sgt. Dani Ventre pulls a weighted sled during physical fitness training for the 479th Field Artillery Brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery at Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 19, 2010. A spinal injury prevented Ventre from participating in unit physical fitness training until recently. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Sebastian Bankston[/caption] FORT HOOD, Texas – Her physical training may look ordinary, but for Army Staff Sgt. Dani Ventre of the 479th Field Artillery Brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, it represents her extraordinary resilience in overcoming a spinal injury.
“I have been on and off a ‘dead man’s’ profile for six years, which doesn’t allow me to participate in any organized physical fitness training,â€Â Ventre said. But when her temporary profile ended, Ventre set goals for herself and began participating in the battery’s organized fitness training at her own pace.“During her recovery time, she would go over on run days and walk the quad, pushing herself to get the most she could until the unit finished physical fitness training, and come back for cool-down,â€Â said Army 1st Sgt. James B. Hopkins, the battery’s first sergeant. “She worked very hard to set her own goals and stuck to them.â€ÂVentre said she took it upon herself to participate because she knew it would help her. “The physical fitness looked fun and would help me improve my physical ability, so I wanted to push myself to participate,â€Â she explained. “My motivation to recover is not to hurt any more. I used to be a PT ‘stud muffin.’ Not so much anymore.â€Â [caption id="attachment_3729" align="alignleft" width="300"]1SoldierOvercomesSpinal08252010 Army Staff Sgt. Dani Ventre performs triceps dips during physical fitness training for the 479th Field Artillery Brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery at Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 19, 2010. A spinal injury prevented Ventre from participating in unit physical fitness training until recently. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Sebastian Bankston[/caption] Hopkins said Ventre’s motivation has been impressive. “What really stood out was the day the unit went on a battery run and Ventre lined up in the fourth rank with the pacesetters,â€Â he said. “The lead soldier fell out of the group run, and Ventre was there to close the gap; she had never quit.â€Â Ventre said she’s been taking it slowly. “But I realize that the physical fitness sessions will help me recover and not be on profile any longer,â€Â she added, “making me a better soldier, physically and mentally.â€Â Meanwhile, Hopkins said, Ventre’s resilience and determination set a good example. “At the end of the day,â€Â he said, “that’s what it’s all about: a soldier never giving up and fighting until the end.â€Â Aug. 25, 2010: By Army Sgt. Erica N. Cain- 479th Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Army Division West
[caption id="attachment_3748" align="alignleft" width="333"]FatherSonReunite08232010 Army Sgt. 1st Class Marc Seal, left, stands with his son, Army Pfc. Nolan Seal, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 9, 2010. Courtesy photo[/caption] FORWARD OPERATING BASE GHAZNI, Afghanistan – Army Sgt. 1st Class Marc Seal returned here Aug. 13 from a five-day mission that began cloaked in secrecy.
The mission for Seal -- an infantry squad leader assigned to the Texas National Guard’s agribusiness development team -- was known only to him and his command, and was kept secret for a special reason. His mission was to track down and surprise his son, Army Pfc. Nolan Seal, a 4th Infantry Division infantryman, who had just arrived in Afghanistan.Marc, a decorated combat veteran on his fifth deployment since 9/11 and his third deployment to a combat zone, has served on active duty and in the National Guard for 16 years. His son decided to carry on the family tradition last year when he joined the Army. He is assigned to 1st Battalion, 66th Armor, out of Fort Carson, Colo. The elder Seal found out his son would be deploying to Afghanistan early this year. He decided not to take the standard two weeks of leave that is afforded to every soldier deployed to a combat zone in hopes that he could spend some time with his son when he arrived. As soon as his son landed in Afghanistan, the planning began. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Mayo, the agribusiness development team’s command sergeant major, contacted Nolan’s battalion and worked with Army Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Kelley and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Gerald Kinloch to make the mission possible. The trip started with Marc “bummingâ€Â a ride on a Black Hawk helicopter bound for Bagram Airfield. He then talked his way onto a flight to Kandahar Airfield, landing there before sunrise. Kelley made sure Nolan would still be in Kandahar and available for his father’s visit. Marc was escorted to a tent where he woke up his son and received a big hug in return. The two spent the next 36 hours talking about home, training and what lay ahead for the young soldier as he started his first combat tour. They were able to share a dinner together and enjoy some shopping at the post exchange. Marc, whose tour ends in mid-October, said he was sad to leave his son and return to Ghazni, but was grateful for the opportunity. “Nolan will be forever changed by his tour in Afghanistan, some good and some bad,â€Â he said. “But no matter what, he will never be that little boy I used to know.â€Â Marc Seal said he’s proud of his son and also recognizes what having both husband and son in a combat zone means for his wife, Suzanne. When asked how she felt having her husband and son in Afghanistan, she said, “It’s a strange mix of pride and horror.â€Â Aug. 23, 2010: By Army Sgt. 1st Class Ross Dobelbower- American Forces Press Service
 

 

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