Since beginning our Battlefields to Ballfields Mission on April 2nd, my dad has taken 15 busses through Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, New York, Boston, Washington DC,Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore & now Tampa. We have teamed up to honor over 90 warriors at 27 games in the past 25 days. For the first time on this mission my dad flew on an airplane & made Warrior Wishes come true at the Tampa Bay Rays game!
My dad was greeted by a familiar face at the airport. ARMY SSG Erick Millette was one of our guests on our original mission to host heroes at all 32 NFL stadiums in one season in 2012. He made the move to Tampa to get out of the cold and he was going to be one of our guests to the Rays game. We were also honoring the legacy of Army SPC Emily Saunders & hosting surviving family members in her honor! (Learn more about the warriors below)
Ferg’s sports bar hosted everyone for lunch before the game started. The Tampa Bay Rays provided awesome seats for the warriors behind home plate & went on to win the game!
Immediately after the game, Erick and his fiance dropped my dad back off at the bus station to catch his ride down to Miami. He will be spending the night at the airport before making warrior wishes come true for a big group of Gold Star Families at Marlins Park thanks to the Marlins!
ARMY SSG ERICK MILLETTE
Staff Sgt. Erick Millette joined the army at the young age of 18. He considers the soldiers he served with his family. While Erick was deployed in Iraq in 2006, just one patrol away from going home, the road erupted beneath his vehicle. Erick’s knee was torn apart & he suffered a concussion in the blast. In all he endured a total of 17 IED attacks while serving in Iraq. Millette was a combat patrol leader, and the way he describes it, the good days for him and the men under his command were few and far between.
In march of 2008, After retiring from the Army, Millette found himself alone in an apartment in Colorado. He began drinking to escape. Nobody had called him in months and he said his only “friend” was the guy at the liquor store.
Millette bought a 9 millimeter gun, brought it home and began drinking. He cleaned his gun and filled the chamber as he continued to drink. Thankfully Erick passed out before he made the decision to end his life.
When Erick woke up the next morning and saw the gun lying next to him, he knew he nedded help & called 911. The woman on the other end of the phone helped save Erick’s life. Erick also credits organizations like Operation Warrior Wishes for helping him feel appreciated for his service & sacrifices.
Millette is now a mentor for soldiers struggling with PTSD and Alcoholism. He shares his story and helps show these warriors that there is still hope.
We are truly honored to have Erick with us at the Rays game today, we would like to thank him for sharing his story to help others are thankful that he made the decision to reach out for help. We hope and pray that anyone out there struggling right now can also realize they need help before it’s too late. Pick up the phone and make the call for help!
ARMY SPC EMILY SAUNDERS
Emily Joy Saunders was born May 29 in Cornwall, England. She Moved to the U.S. in 1987. Attended Lakewood High School where she received a scholarship to University of Tampa for her excellence in track and cross country. She also attended University of South Florida and earned her BA in criminal justice. Saunders later joined the US Army where she continued her excellence for her physical abilities. She graduated boot camp with the Army Physical Fitness award, and won the Iron Sergeant award in October of 2013.
Emily was physically tough but had a very gentle heart and the most infectious smile.
She’s missed dearly by her son, twin sister, brother & parents.