After an amazing night at the Miami Heat game thanks to Wayne Ellington, my dad was up early to catch the sunrise over the Biscayne Bay.
Today he was on a mission to honor Gold Star Families at the Marlins game.
Every time we have the opportunity to host a Gold Star Family, it’s a humbling experience & an honor. Knowing that their loved ones made the Ultimate Sacrifice, gives us a deep appreciation for all the Braves men & women who protect our country. We do our best to show our appreciation to the families by providing the experience in their loved ones honor. It’s important that we never forget the sacrifices made & keep their legacies alive!
Two years ago, the Marlins helped us share the legacies of a few fallen heroes. They hosted surviving family members & shared an emotional moment of silence to reflect on their sacrifices.
Tonight, they went above and beyond again to help us accomplish our mission by honoring the legacies of Army SFC Larry Vaquero, Army PFC Marius Ferrero & Air force MSGT Martin Gonzales. They again hosted surviving family members in their honor.
Before meeting up with the Gold Star families, my dad had the morning to catch up on some work & spent time exploring Miami. He also took some time to relax by the beach.
My dad met up with the families of Master SGT Gonzales, PFC Ferrero & SFC Vaquero in front of the stadium, before the game. Thankfully everyone made it on time & we were able to get a nice group photo of everyone before heading inside.
Nick and Kelly, from the Marlins, greeted everyone inside the stadium & explained their plans to honor each families loved one. The families were then escorted onto the field behind home plate to watch some of the pregame warm ups. The kids were fascinated by the aquarium that is built into the wall behind home plate. It’s one of the most unique features of the stadium.
Just before the First Pitch, the Marlins honored the legacies of Master SGT Gonzales, PFC Ferrero & SFC Vaquero in an emotional presentation. They shared their stories while featuring pictures of them & each family on the Jumbotron. The fans cheered & gave the families a standing ovation to show their support before the Marlins asked for a moment of silence to reflect on the sacrifices these warriors have made for us.
My dad said it was a humble honor to work with the Marlins & host these Gold Star families to celebrate their loved ones lives. After the ceremony, my dad escorted the families to their seats to watch the Braves & Marlins take the field.
2 home runs by Giancarlo Stanton gave everyone something to cheer about as the Marlins took a 4-3 lead into the 8th inning. Unfortunately Braves center fielder, Ender Inciarte answered with his 2nd dinger of the night to tie the game in the top of the 8th inning. The Braves took a 5-4 lead on 2 out single in the 9th & held on for the win.
Despite the loss, it was a special night for each of the families. A night that they will never forget. Everyone had a great time & we know there were definitely 3 very proud and special heroes smiling down from heaven today as they watched their families honor them.
Operation Warrior Wishes would like to send a special thank you to Angela, Nick and the MIami Marlins for going above & beyond to honor the legacies of these brace warriors. We couldn’t have done it without you guys & look forward to coming back for Memorial Day weekend!
We also want to thank our friends at New Era for providing Marlins caps to the families!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
Most importantly, we want to thank Army SFC Larry Vaquero, Army PFC Marius Ferrero & Air force MSGT Martin Gonzales for their service & dedication to our country. We also want to show our appreciation to their families for giving us the opportunity to share their legacies. These brave men will NEVER be forgotten!
My dad gets the day off tomorrow & will “follow the Braves home,” except he’s taking two $1 megabusses, to Atlanta to make Warrior Wishes come true at the FIRST EVER game at their new stadium, Suntrust Park. Check back soon for more details!
MEET THE WARRIORS
PFC MARIUS FERRERO
Written By Manuel T. Ferrero III
My brother PFC Marius Leonardo Ferrero, aka Mario, aka Bolo, was a very special kid from Miami. From early in his childhood you could tell that he was a special boy. He was very self-less, always helping others. Had a very BIG Heart! Adored his family. He would help our grandparents often with house work and anything that needed to be done around the house. He would help in the yard, as our grandmother loved plants. We lost our father at the early age of 8 and so our grandfather, who was a very influential person in his life, became his father figure. He taught Mario many things about life, including how to go through the world helping others. I think this set in to my brother early in life because he gravitated towards community service involved projects and clubs including Boys Scouts, Civil Air Patrol & JROTC. Not to mention his passion for baseball. He loved playing in little league and enjoyed following and cheering for his beloved Marlins!
I believe my brother did not have any conscience plans to join the military, it was just something inevitable that if you really knew Mario would not have surprised you to hear that he was to join our country’s military. It made perfect sense for him to join our forces and help others. It was his calling. That is why it was not so surprising to have heard that he had just decided to join the Army from one day to the next. That was Mario. If he wanted to do something, he was going to do it….. and no one was going to stop him.
He joined the Army in early 2007, and was killed in action on Nov 18th 2007 in Baqubah, Iraq. He had only been out of basic training less than 6 months. He was deployed to Iraq and was only there for 2 weeks when our grandfather passed away. They gave him 2 weeks leave to come home and be with our family and say good bye to our grandfather. After the 2 weeks, he returned to his base in Iraq around 11pm local time, he called our grandmother to let her know he was safe. And the next morning he passed away. Killed along with 2 other soldiers in an IED explosion on the outskirts of Baqubah.
We will never forget Mario. And our family along with everyone at the Non-Profit organization MARIO’s SOLDIERS will continue his legacy forever.
RIP Mario, We love you. I love you.
Your brother, Manuel T. Ferrero III
AIR FORCE MASTER SGT MARTIN GONZALES
“The loss and pain of losing my husband, MSgt Martin Gonzales is indescribable. He passed away very tragically while proudly serving for the US Air Force. He loved his job and was willing to risk his own life for others,” said Gonzalez’s wife in a statement. “He leaves behind two beautiful children, Nathan 7 and Kaitlyn 4. This is a very difficult time for our family. I still can’t believe the plane my husband was in crashed and took his life. All I have left are memories of him. It’s difficult to know that I will never see or hear his voice again. To me, he is an American hero! “
“He was a very patriotic person who believed very deeply in his duties and he believed very deeply in this mission,” said Lt. Cmdr Ron Flanders with the U.S. Southern Command. “And we are all saddened by his loss.”
SFC LARRY VAQUERO
In Lorraine’s words ” (Larry was) The typical “big” brother. (He) watched and took care of all us. He was the oldest of all of us. I am number 6 of 7 and I remember that he was always in the army. I used to think he was born into the army. He was always on your or just on the move. Larry was a Persian gulf vet. He was married and had 2 beautiful kids! He had a love for retiring old Volkswagens. We really miss him dearly.