I can never express how grateful I am to Donna Cranston of Defenders of Freedom for allowing me to participate, as a volunteer, in their 6th Annual Tee It Up FORE The Troops golf outing this past Sunday and Monday. Everytime I think I have been allowed to be a part of an event or an occassion with our Wounded Warriors that is the best ever I find myself smack dab in the middle of another one that words and pictures cannot possibly discribe. Maybe they could but I'm not a writer so it's not possible for me to "write" and explain the emotions, inspiration, joy and love that I get from our Wounded and from all of the sponsors and volunteers
Due to the kindness of a retiree from Delta Air Lines I flew to DFW airport on Sunday via a buddy pass. I was given the last boarding pass for the flight but it didn't matter. I was ON the flight.
Jamie, one of the incredible USO Girls and a very dear friend, met me at my arrival gate. We hopped on the airport tram and over to the concourse where the BEST USO in the states is located to stash my bag. We found out that the inbound R&R flight had been delayd for several hours and was only minutes from arriving. I'd been to the DFW airport and had the privilege of working the outbound flight in the past but I'd never gotten to witness the welcome for the inbound flight. What a bonus. So....through security, on the tram and over to the concourse for the inbound. Got there with minutes to spare.
I'd heard about the welcome but to experience it is unbelievable. A few other ladies who volunteer for Defenders of Freedom and at the USO were in the concourse. As the Soldiers began to disembark and walk down an elevated glass enclosed hallway to customs the ladies began to clap.
One by one people in the concourse began to look up and clap and yell and whistle. As the Soldiers continued on down the glass enclosed walkway the applause started up along the way. I had a huge lump in my throat and my eyes began to leak. God Bless America!
We waved up to the Soldiers and they waved back down to us - smiles from ear to ear. Ahhhhhhhh!
After the last one walked by we skeedaddled over out of security and to the area where they exit customs. There were already two lines formed for them to walk through. Most of the people in the line were wearing either Vietnam or WWII gear. Took my breath away.
Donna Cranston pointed out a group of Irving, TX fire fighters. She said they are there EVERY day, too.
Here they come!
Families who live in the area where there to grab their loved ones. Yeah, I had tears, too.
As each man or woman got to the end of the lines of greeters Donna and another lady had connecting flight information and would direct them to the specific waiting bus outside that would take them to their flights HOME.
Just past the end of the line of greeters and before the exit doors to the outside were two tables set up and "manned" by Girl Scouts. They had stacks and stacks of cookies to hand to the Soldiers
I tip my hat to those who are at the DFW airport EVERY SINGLE day to welcome our military personnel home on R&R. I wish I could be there with them more.
Jamie and I went back through security and hopped back on the train to meet the first of several flights that Wounded Warriors coming in for the event were on. Found them. Introduced ourselves. Went with them to baggage claim. Hopped the airport shuttle buses and off to the Grand Hyatt hotel in the airport. Got those guys checked in and headed back through security onto the tram, to another gate, collected more Wounded Warriors, baggage claim, airport bus, hotel check in, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Checking in at the Grand Hyatt - the staff was FANTASTIC!
Jamie helping Chris "guard" his golf clubs while waiting to check in at the hotel. NOTE: The day after Chris returned home his car caught on fire while he and his wife were in it. They both, thankfully, escaped the car in time but the car and all contents - including Chris's golf clubs were a total loss. If anyone has a set to donate to Chris let me know!
After we met the last flight assigned to us we dashed out to Jamies vehicle and pulled around behind the Dan Dipert bus that had the Wounded Warriors on it. We followed the bus to the home of Teresa and Joe who had volunteered to host a dinner that night. Their home is lovely as are they.
Arriving at Teresa and Joe's house for dinner the night before the golf tournament
Heading into Joe's "Man Cave" - a two story building that ANY man would love to have behind his house!
From downstairs in the "Man Cave" looking upstairs
A view looking down from the upstairs of the "Man Cave"
Relaxing out by the pool
Donna thanking our hosts and everyone for coming
WWII Veteran Ernest J. Deeds and his delightful wife, Lois joined us for the evening. What an honor to have them with us.
Teresa reading the events of the day Ernest J. Deeds lead his men onto Omaha Beach. He was wounded as he ran up the beach. She read about his men, his recovery and his awards. Not many dry eyes in the house. When Teresa was done a huge line formed to thank him. So touching.
They guys leaning on the upstairs rail while Teresa read to us about Ernest J. Deeds
Our hostess, Teresa, Lois and Ernest Deeds and our host Joe.
An amazing evening all the way around. Teresa told me about one of their neighbors who is retired and learned of the event. She, the neighbor, came over one day with a home made Italian cream cheese cake (which I can attest to as being DELICIOUS). A day or two later she came with a second cake. Then the day of the party she arrived with a third cake AND a home made banana pudding (which I can attest to as being DELICIOUS). I even heard one of the Soldiers, PJ, tell Teresa it was the BEST!
So a wonderful night with incredible Americans. A delicious BBQ feat (Texas style), free flowing and never ending beer from the kegorator, laughs, jokes, hugs and the company of a WWII hero. Seems impossible to find the words to thank Teresa and Joe for their hospitality. Everyone had such a grand time. How can life be any better?
I don't think I even remember my head hitting the pillow that night. Maybe because I was floating on air?
A thank you to Dan Dipert for providing the transportation, too!