Getting The “Royal” Treatment in Kansas City

May 7, 2015

After making Warrior Wishes come true at the St. Louis Cardinals game, my dad made his way over to the Greyhound bus station to catch a 3am bus to Kansas City.

 He spent 2 days in KC hosting Army Warriors Steve Applegate & Shane Zavodny  and honoring the legacies of Army Maj Horst Moore & SPC Grant Yohnka.

We would like to thank the Kansas City Royals for helping us honor these brave soldiers for their service and sacrifices.  We would also like to thank New Era for providing Royals Caps & Outback Steakhouse for helping us surprise SGT Zavodny with this experience & provide dinner for each of these warriors.

My Dad plans on spending the night at the Kansas City Airport before boarding his 6am flight to Denver to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Rockies game tomorrow!  If you are keeping track, this will be our 39th game of honoring heroes in the past 37 days on our Battlefields to Ballfields mission.  

Learn more about our MissionNominate Your Hero for an upcoming game, Follow Our BlogGet involvedMake a Donation to help us honor warriors & Buy Warrior Wishes gear at


Steve Applegate joined the Army in 2006 as an Infantryman, served in the Presidential Guard until 2010, then went to EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) School. Served at 703rd EOD, 788th EOD, and finally spent a year in the Warrior Transition Unit at fort Campbell recovering from injuries and processing into VA Medical Retirement.


 Michael S. Zavodny joined the Army at the age of 20, in 1993. He completed Basic Training and AIT at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, to become a combat engineer. His first duty station was Germany with 1st Armored Division.

Zavodny’s first deployment was to Somalia in 1993. His second deployment was to Bosnia in 1995. After returning from Bosnia, he PCS’d to Fort Belvoir, VA and was assigned to Military District of Washington (MDW), doing confined space and collapsed structure rescue.  In 1998, he PCS’d to Fort Hood, TX at 4ID and soon deployed two different times. His First deployment with 4ID was in October 1998 to Kosovo on a security mission.  The next deployment was to Iraq in 1999 for an Intrinsic Action. In 2001

Zavodny re-enlisted & changed his MOS & was then stationed at Fort Leavenworth, KS.  At Fort Leavenworth he worked at the United States Displinary Barracks (USDB) until 2005. He then did a 1 year tour in South Korea at Camp Casey, with the 1/15th Field Artillery, pulling security at the DMZ.  In February 2006, he was stationed back at Fort Leavenworth, KS until he came on orders to Fort Irwin, CA in 2007, as the OPFOR at The National Training Center with 11th ACR.  In 2009 his orders were to Fort Bliss, TX with 11th Air Defense, where he stayed for less than a year. In December 2009 he was station back at Fort Leavenworth, KS until January 2011 when he was sent to Fort Knox, KY and immediately deployed to Afghanistan.

On September 13, 2011, Staff Sergeant Zavodny of Delta Company, 6th Battalion, 4th Calvary Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division in Fort Knox, Kentucky, was injured by Indirect Fire (IDF) blast that caused the vehicle he was in to roll down the side of the mountain during his deployment to Afghanistan.  He sustained a severe concussion, three broken ribs, three compressed disks in his cervical spinal area, torn tendons in his right arm, and pinched nerves in the lumbar spinal region.

Zvodny was airlifted from COP Wilderness to Salerno, Afghanistan to be checked and treated for any additional injuries.  After three weeks of having to stay at Salerno due to continuous bombings, he was airlifted to Bagram Airbase, Afghanistan, where he stayed there for a week until a flight was ready to go to Landstuhl, Germany.  Landstuhl is where he was told he would be treated and then sent back to his unit, at COP Wilderness.   After he arrived to Landstuhl Military Hospital, we were told that the concussion that he suffered caused him to have mild TBI, which he loses his short term memory, stammers his words, and blurs his vision.

He was treated at Landstuhl hospital for two weeks then sent to the United States for further treatment and therapy.  He arrived at Walter Reed Bethesda on November 21, 2011. He had 3 surgical procedures on his right arm, physical therapy and occupational therapy.  His Physical therapy for his back was done by using aquatic training.  For his neck, he received weekly injections to reduce the pain. His TBI was cared for by the doctors and therapists at the Behavior Health clinic and National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICOE).  SSG Zavodny stayed at Walter Reed until August 2012, he was then transferred to Fort Belvoir, Virginia hospital, to continue his care.  From August 2012 to August 2014 SSG Zavodny continued the same care as he received from Walter Reed, until he was medically retired on August 28, 2014.

After serving over 21 years of active duty in the Army and having multiple deployments under his belt, he currently resides in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife Christal and two daughters, Michaela (8) and Kylie (6). He continues treatment for his injuries at the Kansas City, Missouri VA & plans to go back to school in the fall of 2015.


The Army and the Air Force came together to grieve the loss of two men who served together and died together in Iraq.  Army Major Gary Moore and Air Force Master Sergeant Steven Auchman were remembered as men who were proud of serving their country, and chose to be in Iraq.

“Major Moore was the kind of leader any soldier would follow,” said Army Master Sergeant Cheryl Staffa. “The kind of leader who didn’t just read the one-minute manager, he actually put his principals in practice. He always had a word of praise for soldiers who had done things correctly and a smile or a joke when anyone needed cheering up.”

Mrs. Moore explained that “Gary loves his family, he was a good guy… a dedicated father, a dedicated soldier.”

She described her husband as a career soldier whose 16 years of service started right after high school and was interrupted only while he pursued a college degree.

“He was one of those patriotic individuals who loved serving his country,” she said.

Moore was born to a military family in Berlin, Germany and was raised in Oklahoma. He met his wife while at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. When he was home, he loved to spend time with her and their 2-year-old daughter, she said. He also loved to work on his old trucks. She said they last spoke Sunday night, when he called to wish her a happy 34th birthday.

“It was 3 AM over there, but he stayed up all that night to make sure he could call at a decent time,” she said. “He was a dedicated father and husband, a positive individual.”

U.S. Representative Solomon P Ortiz from Texas spoke about MAJ Moore in Congress on December 20, 2004:

“Soldiers who knew and served with Major Moore spoke candidly about the human side of this tough soldier. He was known for his kind and caring manner, and his absolute love of Raquel and their 2-year old daughter, Sophia…remember this great patriot, his great sacrifice, and the family he leaves behind in South Texas.”


Spec. Grant A. Yohnka, 21, of Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., formerly of Chebanse, died July 2, 2002, at the Lifecare Center in Waynesville, Mo., following a short and courageous battle with brain cancer.

Born Jan. 15, 1981, in Kankakee, he was the son of Andrew and Kris Bernard Yohnka. He was a soldier in the U.S. Army, serving with the A-5th Engineers. He was a 1999 graduate of Central High School in Clifton and enjoyed sports. He was a Chicago Bears and Chicago Cubs fan.

Survivors include his wife, the former Amber Gustin whom he married Feb. 7, 2002, at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.; two brothers — Alexander Yohnka and Bryan Yohnka, both of Chebanse; his father, Andrew Yohnka of Chebanse; paternal grandparents, Richard and Bonita Yohnka of Chebanse; his mother, Kris Bernard of Martinton; and his maternal grandparents, George “Barney” Bernard and Patricia Bernard, all of Cherokee Village.