Sunday night, May 6, 2012 was "opening night" for Defenders of Freedom's annual Tee It Up Fore The Troops event. For the past three years Joe and Teresa Losole have hosted a welcome party at Joe's "Man Cave" for the Wounded and Active Duty Veterans attending the golf event held the following day.
The Veteran golfers arrive on Sunday each year. Around 3:30 the Veteran golfers board a luxury coach provided free of charge by Dan Dipert for the ride to Losole's house. Thank you Dan Dipert!
Dan Dipert bus parked in front of the Losole's house
Each year for the past three years Joe and Teresa, along with several of their neighbors, have outdone themselves for the "Man Cave" event.
Teresa and Joe (from 2011)
Teresa, Joe, some of their neighbors and friends are always eagerly awaiting the arrival of the bus each year. Their welcome is always so genuine and warm. Teresa and Joe completely open their home and "Man Cave" to all of us.
Teresa waiting to greet the troops
The whole neighborhood gets involved and (although I didn't get a photo) the entire street has American flags lining the street on both sides leading up to Teresa and Joe's house. The flags also line Joe and Teresa's driveway. Very festive and so patriotic!
Joe and Teresa's flag lined driveway
As the Veteran golfers exit the bus they are always met with hand shakes, hugs and gratitude.
Joe greeting Chris Fierro
Teresa Greeting Brandon Bunten
Joe and Teresa greeting more of their guests.
The evening starts off with getting to know each other over cocktails. This year Joe and Teresa really out did themselves with a bartender, micro brewed beer (donated by Humperdinks and brewed by Coty Bell), margaritas and concoctions such as a Sangria swirl (my favorite) which is a margarita with a, duh, swirl of Sangria. YUMMY!
Everyone (The Losoles, their friends and neighbors, Donna Cranston - founder of Defenders of Freedom, her board members, volunteers and, of course the Veterans) spend an hour or two relaxing and getting to know each other better. All of this is done around the pool, in the back yard and in the two story "Man Cave". The upstairs of the "Man Cave" has a pool table, shuffleboard and Foosball. It's pretty darn amazing and TONS of fun!
Veterans and loved ones chilling in the pool
Steve Howard, a friend of Teresa and Joe's provided energy drinks and cigars for the Veterans. Both were a huge hit as was everything else these great Americans did for the Veteran's that night.
Veterans and supporters relaxing in the back yard
Linda Robinson (Board Member of Defenders of Freedom & USO Volunteer Coordinator at DFW) and Donna Cranston (Founder of Defenders of Freedom) upstairs at the "Man Cave" with two of the Veterans
Jamie (Defenders of Freedom volunteer and 6 year USO Volunteer at DFW) playing Foosball with Brandon upstairs at the "Man Cave"
Jody Thompson - Veteran - shooting pool upstairs at the "Man Cave"
After "happy hour" a delicious meal of beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage, smoked chicken (all prepared by the Losole's friends John and Jeannie Stricklin), potato salad (provided by Bob and Evelyn Hays) and beans was served. If anyone went away hungry it was their own fault.
Dinner is served!
Then there is desert. Whether you have room or not it is a must! The Losole's have a sweet eighty three year old neighbor, Ms Pat Barber, who makes Banana Pudding each year - from scratch. Some years she makes other deserts, too. The Banana Pudding is to die for. Along with the pudding this year we also had Texas Sheet Cake made by Lori and cookies decorated and assembled in the shape of the US flag made by Kate Roberson.
Photo of flag made by Kate Roberson from individual cookies
Each year Joe and Teresa invite at least one "special guest" to the event. This year they out did themselves on that aspect, too. Ninety one year old WWII Veteran Ernest J Deeds and his wife Lois joined us. Mr. Deeds landed on and fought for Omaha Beach during WWII. I never tire of watching the "youngsters" when they are around our older Veterans. Mr. Doug Grogan (retired WWII Army Veteran and his wife Barbara also took the time to come visit with us. It is so touching from the perspective of both sides.
We were also blessed to have Viet Nam Veterans Robert Jorgensen and his wife Sharon as well as Robert Howard with us.
SFC Kevin Rice (right) meeting one of the "older" Veterans
"Young Guns" shaking the hand of and thanking Mr. Deeds for his service and example
Mr. Deeds and five of the "Young Guns". SO much respect!
I have so many other great photos from this event that I didn't share here simply due to this post already being so long. Each year this event is always so relaxing, entertaining, enjoyable and inspiring. The faces of the Veterans may change from year to year but the atmosphere and camaraderie are always the same. It is beyond a privilege and a pleasure to be allowed to be a part of this. I am grateful to Joe, Teresa and their friends for making this such a special time. I am equally grateful to Donna Cranston for allowing me to be a part of this. And this is just the beginning. We have two more posts to go. One of the golf outing and one of the VIP tour of Cowboys Stadium. Stand by for those in the coming days.
Special thanks, again, to our hosts Joe and Teresa Losole as well as to Mr. Deeds, Ms. Barber, Steve Howard, Humperdinks, Coty Bell, Kate and Allen Robinson, Bob & Evelyn Hays, John & Jeannie Strickland and Dan Dipert Coaches for making this event so darn special and fun.