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Game 50 – Warrior Wishes Come True at the Colts Game!

We kicked off week 13 of our mission on Thanksgiving day in Detroit.

My dad took a train back home after the Lions game to enjoy some Thanksgiving leftovers and the local Electric Light Parade with the grandkids before heading off to our next mission.

Fellow Director, Bill Heaton and my dad hit the road at 5:30 am Sunday morning and made their way to Indianapolis to make some wishes come true at the Colts game.

Throughout the years we have made some unforgettable memories making wishes come true in Indy. Here are some of our favorites.

Today we had the honor of hosting Army SGT Ryan Phillips and Army SPC Alison Trueblood.

SGT Philips joined the US Army at 17 yrs old. The first 10 years as an infantry soldier and the last 13 years as an engineer. Ryan served overseas in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He was then medically retired after 23 years of service. After retiring, he received a bachelors in business management and now owns his own custom woodworking business. Ryan is married to Melissa and they have two children, Chloe and Caden. He loves spending time with family and his dog Berlynn.

SPC Trueblood served in the Army from March 2007 until June 2011 as a Financial Managament Technician. She was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Camp Casey, South Korea, Fort Lewis, Washington, and served on one deployment to Afghanistan.

Bill and my dad met up with the warriors outside of Lucas Oil stadium.

And made their way to the exclusive VIP Bullseye Tailgate! Our friends at Bullseye have been helping us make Warrior wishes come true for the past few years. They have hosted warriors at their NFL Players tailgate at the Super Bowl and every Colts game! We’re thankful for their support!

The group enjoyed great food and good company before heading inside to watch the Colts and Titans battle to keep their playoff hopes alive.

An early turnover led to a Colts touchdown to give them a 7-0 lead. The Titans answered with a touchdown of their own and the Colts kicked a field goal to take a 10-7 lead into the half.

They added another touchdown early in the third quarter, but the Titans took over from there…  Derrick Henry and the Titans went on to score 24 unanswered points and beat the Colts 31-17.

Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Allison and Ryan for their service and sacrifices.

On top of making these Warrior Wishes come true at today’s Colts game, we also had the honor of hosting Warriors at the Steelers, Jaguars & Chiefs games today!

My dad will be back in action next week at the Thursday night Bears game. Stay tuned!

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Game 22 – Warrior Wishes Come True At The Colts Game!


My dad spent a couple of extra of nights in Nashville after making Warrior Wishes come true at the Titans game, which was our 21st game of the season.  

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On Saturday night he took an overnight $1 megabus from Nashville to Indianapolis.  He arrived at 3am & was shocked to see the streets filled with Ghosts, Goblins, monsters and zombies.  He said it was like being in an episode of “The Walking Dead.”  He quickly realized that everyone was celebrating Halloween.  The partygoers kept my dad awake, the only problem is he could not get a seat at the 24 hour Steak & Shake he usually “sleeps at…”


As the sun began to rise, the crowds got smaller and my dad was able to get a seat to eat a little breakfast. Then he headed over to Crown Plaza hotel near the stadium to use their computer, and work on setting up next weeks games in Baltimore, Pittsburgh & at the Meadowlands for the New York Giants.

Over the past 4 years we have made a lot of memories making Warrior Wishes come true at Colts games!

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My dad eventually made his way over to the Old Spaghetti Factory at 11am where he met up with Army Spc Christopher Green, Marine Michael Mertz & their loved ones.  


SPC Green and his wife were the first to arrive.  Chris himself has nominated a couple of his battle buddies for a warrior wish in the past, Sgt Geiger who we hosted in Jacksonville and SSG Williams in Miami.  Since they were a few minutes early, it gave us the chance to get to know each other a little but before the other warrior arrived.  

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We surprised our second guest, Navy Corpsman and Marine Michael Mertz with  a little help from our friend.  Turns out our Board Member, and Marine, Manny Gonzalez Knows him.  So Manny, knowing Mertz was a huge Colts fan, invited the Mertz family to dinner and Fright Fest in Illinois, and  surprised them with the Warrior Wishes Colts experience!  

Mike and his wife arrived about 20 minutes after SPC Green and were still talking about the surprise – his wife Lisa did a great job of setting it up, while keeping surprise intact.  Manny, our Board Member, did great job of “delivering” the surprise. We spent the next hour enjoying a delicious lunch thanks to The Old Spaghetti Factory & got to know all 4 of our new friends.  Before heading over to the stadium for the game, my dad snapped a few photos, gave them their New Era Caps and then escorted them 3 blocks over to the stadium.


Before making their way inside, they walked around in “Touchdown Town”- a plaza full of Colts related games and activities.  


The Colts were hosting the Chiefs today.  When he saw that he came to the realization that this was his 3rd straight Chiefs game!  Two weeks ago he saw them kickoff agains the Raiders in Oakland, last week he made Warrior Wishes come true in KC & today they are the Colts opponent. 


He must be their good luck charm because he has seen them win every game… unfortunately for the Warriors, the Chiefs dominated the Colts and won 30-14. 


After the game, my dad walked everyone back to their cars, said goodbyes and hopped on the 7:15pm $1 megabus to get home by Midnight.


Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Josh & Rebecca at Old Spaghetti Factory for the Pre Game Meal, New Era Cap for providing the Colts Caps & Chive Charities for the KCCO T-Shirts, as well as their continued support of our Warrior Wishes mission.  

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Most importantly we want to take a minute to recognize Army SPC Chris Green and Navy Corpsman Michael Mertz for their service to our country, and their wives for their unwavering support of their heroes.  It’s appreciated, has not gone unnoticed & will never be forgotten!

My dad has been on the road since Wednesday & definitely looking forward to coming home to catch up with the family & get some rest. Thankfully he has an easy day tomorrow as he will be home making Warrior Wishes come true at Soldier Field.  Stay tuned for more details.




Michael entered the Navy in 1991, serving 20 years as a Hospital Corpsman. In those 20 years he served half his time with the Marines as their “Doc”. He served in two wars, Afghanistan in 2001-2002 and Iraq in 2003-2004. He also traveled with his Marines to places such as Thailand and Japan. He finished his final years of service at Great Lakes Naval Academy as in instructor in North Chicago, IL. He is a beloved husband, father, son and friend; a man with much character and is always willing to help others before himself. He misses his Marines more than anything since retiring, but now he can help serve other veterans with his new job with the VA at Ft. Benjamin Harrison. After 25 years being away, Michael has finally “come home” after buying his first home in Greenwood, IN. He has a deep love of Star Wars, Yoda being his favorite character of all. He loves to game online and watch movies in his newly furnished Star Wars man-cave.

Don’t forget to nominate your hero for an upcoming game on our 2016 “All32in17” Mission!

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

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Contact Craig for more information about the mission (630) 339-6714

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Game 31 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Indy!

After an emotional, fun filled Saturday night hosting warriors in Nashville at Predators hockey game , it was “Back To Football” on Sunday morning.

An overnight drive – instead of usual overnight bus (Thanks Bill)- and a couple hours of sleep and we were ready to make Warrior Wishes Come True with Sgt Matthew Commons and his family at our 2nd Colts game of the year.


This weekend is a great example -in a couple of ways – of how we hope Operation Warrior Wishes continues to grow. First with the volunteers who want to get involved in what we have created – last night Keith was our Nashville ambassador and helped set up great event . And Bill has become very reliable when needing a driver instead of overnight bus, As well as big help with the events themselves. But probably what we are most proud of, is the way our nation’s military heroes help us make warrior wishes come true by nominating their comrades and battle buddies, which allows us to host and honor even more heroes.

Here are some of our favorite memories from making Warrior Wishes come true in Indy!

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Today we had the pleasure and honor of hosting Sgt Matthew Commons and his family , thanks to a nomination by Sgt Matt Bowman- who was our Indianapolis Colts guest in 2012.


We kicked off our day, getting to know the Commons family-Sgt Commons, his wife and son Landon,and his brother Michael , who also serves our country -at Whole Foods for breakfast.  Ironically, this is the same place we started 3 years ago with Sgt Bowman. Whole Foods has been a big supporter of our mission all 3 years and provides us with not only breakfast or lunch, but also a nice environment to get to know our warriors before heading to the stadiums – and sometimes even a convenient parking spot . 

After breakfast and presenting our warriors with a few letters written by kids from Clinton School back home, and New Era Colts hats to his family then we headed to Lucas Oil Stadium.


When our warriors have kids with them , we always do some of the kid activities outside the stadium and the Colts have a very kid friendly pre game set up.  However we still went inside stadium early enough to get a few photos down by the field , and got a little added bonus when former Colt Gary Brackett literally jumped up on the wall, like a Lambeau Leap, to sign autographs for a few fans including Matthew and his son .

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We all hung out in that first row down by field for awhile , before heading up to our seats – but first, our friend Bill added a little bonus for our warriors , buying them both a 2nd hat – a Colts military appreciation hat of their choice.


Sgt Commons & his family Cheered on his Colts to a victory as the Colts defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 25-12.  Another mission accomplished!!!


We would like to thank Whole Foods for providing a delicious meal before the game, New Era for providing Colts caps & Bill for providing transportation.  Together we make warrior wishes come true!


We have now made Warrior Wishes come true at 31 NFL games this season.  My dad will be taking an overnight bus from indy while I get to experience my first $1 overnight megabus this season and we will meet up first thing in the morning in Cleveland to make warrior wishes come true at the Browns Monday night game.

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Sergeant (ret.) Matthew Commons served in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was deployed twice to Afghanistan in 2009-10 and 2012. On May 23, 2012 Sgt Commons stepped on a Pressure Plate IED that resulted in an amputation in March of 2013. He retired in May of last year.
Sergeant  Michael Commons joined the Army in 2011 and serves in the 2nd Infantry Division. He was deployed from Nov. 2011-Nov. 2012 to Afghanistan.
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Game 5 – Making Warrior Wishes Come True In Indy!

After the Bears helped us make Warrior Wishes come true in Chicago & we scrambled to get my dad a new phone, he took a train back to the city to catch an overnight bus to Indianapolis to Make Warrior Wishes come true at our 5th game in 9 days!

Over the last 3 years, we have made some unforgettable memories making Warrior Wishes come true in Indianapolis.

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My dad arrived in Indy around 2:30am and got some sleep in the bus station before planning the day & hanging out with the ESPN crew at the Starbucks by the stadium.  Today we are honoring the Legacy of Marine Sgt Bradley Atwell & hosting surviving family members at the Colts game in his honor.



SGT Atwell was born in Kokomo, Indiana on February 20, 1985.  He graduated from Taylor High School in 2003 & went on to attend various colleges, most recently, while in Afghanistan, attending Thomas Edison State College, where he was only a few credits shy of his associates degree. While there, he was also logging hours so that he would be able to obtain his journeyman’s license. After a short stay in the Air Force he joined the United States Marine Corps where he worked as an aviation electrician and currently held the rank of a sergeant.

Brad had a passion for firearms and enjoyed off-roading in his truck. He was also a brown belt in MCMAP and enjoyed playing and watching baseball. He was a very loving husband, son, and brother, but most importantly an extremely courageous Marine.


SGT Atwell made the ultimate sacrifice on September 15th, 2011, when around 15 insurgents dressed in U.S. Army uniforms infiltrated Camp Bastion with automatic rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers and suicide vests.  SSG Jimbo Montemayor, who served for a time as Atwell’s superior, said the incident which made him a hero was his actions on the day he was killed in Afghanistan.

“Sgt. Atwell, at the sound of enemy fire, ran and beat down doors screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘Grab your gear, Marines, and let’s go,’” Montemayor said. “He ran towards enemy fire to engage the enemy, as any well-trained sergeant should.

“I’ve seen that intensity numerous times when he was in training,” he continued. “I can almost guarantee that he pursued the enemy without any fear of losing his life. These are the actions of a true hero.” said Montemayor.

“Bradley epitomized the Marine Corps ethos of the honor, courage and commitment,” wrote Lt. Col. P.D. Waugh in a letter to the family, which was read at his service. “He lived it everyday in the way he looked out for his Marines. You can be sure the Marines who worked and fought beside him will never forget the dedication and sacrifice that he made.”

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Photo by Sgt. Keonaona Paulo U.S. Marines honor Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell at a memorial service on Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan Sept. 20, 2012. Atwell was an aircraft electrical/instrument and flight control technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3D Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), was killed in action while repealing an enemy attack on Camp Bastion Sept. 14, 2012.

Sgt. Brad Atwell is survived by his wife, Danielle Atwell of Yuma, Arizona; mother, Cheryl (Turnpaugh) Atwell, father and step-mother, Victor and Kimberlee Atwell; mother and father-in-law, Jeanette and Christopher Cross; brother, Dustin Atwell; two sisters; Erin and Lauren Atwell; and grandmother, Shirley (Turnpaugh) Oody, all of Kokomo, Indiana.

It was an honor to host surviving family members at the Colts game in SGT Atwell’s honor.  We would like to thank Harry & Izzy’s for hosting everyone for Dinner before the game and New Era for providing Colts caps for everyone.


This was the 5th game of our 32 game mission to honor military warriors at all 32 NFL stadiums in 1 season for our 4th season in a row.  My dad will be back on the bus after the game and back in Chicago first thing in the morning.  He will have a few days off before we drive up to Minnesota this Sunday and then make our way over to Green Bay for the Monday night game.


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