Our Battlefields to Ballfields mission has officially begun! Operation Warrior Wishes will be on the road making warrior wishes come true at 54 games in 53 days!
GAME 1 – CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS – We started our mission in Chicago and were proud to be host Retired Marine Manny Gonzalez, Army Warrior Andrew Nemeth & to be honoring the legacy of SSG Jacob Frazier by hosting his Dad Jim Frazier at the Chicago Blackhawks game!
We met up with the warriors at the Billy Goat Tavern a few blocks away from the stadium. Everyone enjoyed their World-Famous Billy Goat “Cheezborger, Cheezborger, Cheezborger. No Pepsi, Coke. No Fries, Cheeps.” and got to know each other.
After dinner, we presented Jim Frazier, Gold Star Father of SSG Jacob Frazier, with a custom piece of artwork made by “Honor America’s Valor” in honor of his son’s legacy.
As the warriors were snapping pictures outside the stadium before the game, they got lucky and ran into the Blackhawks National Anthem singer, Jim Cornelison!
The Blackhawks clinched a playoff spot with their win over the Canucks. Jim, Manny & Andrew celebrated their win in the locker room with the players thanks to the Chicago Blackhawks! It was a day full of once in a lifetime memories & warrior wishes coming true!
Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank The Billy Goat Tavern for providing the pregame meal, Honor America’s Valor for providing the artwork to honor SSG Frazier’s Legacy & theChicago Blackhawks for helping us provide these heroes with a once in a lifetime Blackhawks experience & make these Warrior Wishes come true!
Learn more about the Warriors and about their service and sacrifices below.
US MARINE MANNY GONZALEZ
At the young age of 20, Manny Gonzalez suffered 2nd & 3rd degree burns on over 80 percent of his body. On July 18, 1996, Manny was participating in a field training exercise. Three “Tear Gas” grenades were tossed amongst the Marines to simulate a Chemical Attack. Two separate fires ensued. After failed attempts to put out the fire he was nearest to and not realizing that a second fire had also started, Manny and other Marines began to evacuate the immediate area.
Before Manny could make it to a safe area, he noticed a Marine against the base of the hill, overcome by the tear gas, laying on the ground. Following the traditions of the Marine Corps of “Never leaving a Marine behind”, Manny dropped all his gear and he ran to the Marine’s side to help. During this time, the fires merged into one and created a ring around the hill, separating him and the other Marine from the entire unit. After multiple unsuccessful attempts were made to climb the hill to escape the flames, the fire engulfed Manny and the other Marine.
Both marines were able to make it through the intense flames, but not unscathed. The Marine Manny went back to save suffered approximately fifty percent burns, while Manny suffered approximately eighty percent 2nd and 3rd degree burns over his body.
He was immediately airlifted to UCSD Burn Unit, where he was placed into a drug-induced coma for approximately 1 1/2 months. At one point his doctor gave him a 1% chance of surviving due to severe complications a week after his injuries.
Manny has overcome the odds & made a full recovery from his burns. 3 months after the accident he was released to return home to Chicago, He was medically retired from the Marine Corps in 1998.
AIR FORCE SSG JACOB FRAZIER
Jacob enlisted in the Illinois Air National Guard in 1997, and was determined to excel in the military. He attained the rank of staff sergeant in the Air Force, attached to special forces, a job that required his skills in coordinating close air support operations with precision.
On March 29th, 2003 Jake gave the ultimate sacrifice serving our country in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He was the only Air Force member on a U.S. Special Forces team that was ambushed north of the town of Gereshk in the Helmund Province in Afghanistan.
To this day, SSG Frazier is greatly missed, he will forever be respected for his ultimate sacrifice for the nation he loved and defended with honor.
Operation Warrior Wishes is proud to host Jacob’s dad in his honor & share his legacy tonight at the Chicago Blackhawks game!
ARMY ANDREW NEMETH
We are also excited to be hosting Army Warrior Andrew Nemeth. Andrew has proudly served our country since 2008 and is an avid Blackhawks fan! We surprised Andrew and let him know we would be making his Warrior Wish come true!