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Game 23 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Denver!

We are kicking off week 7 of our 2019 Mission in Denver!

In case you haven’t been following… so far this season we have been honored to make Warrior Wishes come true at 22 NFL games! My dad is racking up some serious miles…

Xander, my dad & I headed towards the airport after my dad watched the grandkids Wednesday afternoon. Literally as soon as we got in the car to go we received a flight delay notification.  So we stopped for dinner and played some Mario Kart at Walmart before dropping him off. His flight, originally scheduled to depart at 8:54pm, didn’t take off until after 1 am!

Which means he didn’t arrive in Denver until around 3am. Needless to say, he skipped getting a hotel and got a quick power nap in at the airport before making his way downtown Denver to make some Warrior Wishes come true!

Denver is an awesome city. I’ll never forget our first mission there, my dad and I literally tried to cram in as much as we could with limited time. We made it to Estes Park, the doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park(didn’t want to tease ourselves because we didn’t have time to explore), Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the Coors Brewery, Coors Field and the Broncos game all in less than 24 hours! It was awesome!

Throughout the years we have made some unforgettable memories making Warrior Wishes come true in the “Mile High” City! Here are some of our favorites.

Today we had the opportunity to make some new memories with Army veteran Anthony “AJ” Martinez and Marines Vince Vangi and Terry Lyons at the Broncos game.

AJ Martinez was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany with the 1-91 Cav, and the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He severely injured his ankle on a predeployment training mission. Today, he and his family live in Aurora, Colorado and he is heavily involved in the Wounded Warrior Project.

Vince Vangi enlisted in the Unities States Marine Corps reserve in December of 1986 at the age of 20. He graduated from boot camp as a Private 1st Class and worked his way up to the rank of Sergeant before his discharge in 1994.

Marine Sgt Terry Lyons comes from a family with a long history of military service. His family has served in all branches of the military excluding the coast guard. Terry enlisted into the United States Marine Corps on December 30th 1963. He deployed to Okinawa Japan at the beginning of 1965 and eventually was sent to Vietnam.

Terry received four Purple Hearts during his time in Vietnam! Two the first year. The first, was a bullet wound to the head. The second was from a grenade that wounded his lower body. Then in 1966 he and his squad received mortar rounds where he took injuries to his arms and face.

The Marine Corps eventually moved him off of the front lines and he was given orders to the Military Police. While on patrol on Highway 1 a marine air base was attacked and a machine gunner on the perimeter tower was severely wounded so Lance Corporal Lyons started climbing the tower to get him to medical help. As he was climbing he was shot in the leg so received his 4th Purple Heart!

He returned from Vietnam in July of 1966 where he was station at Camp Lejune as the Section Chief for the chaplains office until his discharge from the Marine Corps on December 7, 1967 as a Sergeant of Marines.

Terry’s grandson, Army Pfc Zachary Salmon, made the Ultimate Sacrifice in January 12th 2011 for our country while serving in Afghanistan.

We were honored to host Zach’s mom at a Bengals game a few years back and we are pretty positive Zach was with us too. Look at the orb surrounding his family in this picture!

My dad met up with the warriors for dinner at the Denver Chophouse. Mark, the manager of the Chophouse, also served in the Marines. They have been helping us make wishes come true for the past few years and we appreciate their support!

After getting to know one another over a delicious meal, they made their way to the Denver fire department to catch their ride to the stadium! The Denver Fire Department escorted them to the stadium in a fire truck!

Upon arrival at Empower field, home of the Broncos, the group made their way to tailgate with Rescue Rob and his crew.  Rescue Rob, complete with his own custom Broncos fire truck and his crew have been making Warrior wishes come true at Broncos games since 2012!

Eventually they made their way into the stadium to watch the Broncos face off against their rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Broncos marched down the field on their first drive of the game to take an early lead. But unfortunately didn’t score again the rest of the game… the Broncos lay the game 30-6.  Despite the loss, the guys enjoyed their experience.  In AJ’s words “It was absolutely the coolest experience I have ever been a part of!”

Operation Warrior wishes would like to thank AJ, Vince & Terry for their service and sacrifices and we will never forget Army Pfc Zachary Salmon!

My dad will be back home tomorrow afternoon before catching an overnight bus to Nashville to make wishes come true at Sunday’s Titans game! Stay tuned…

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Game 1 – Kicking Things Off Making Mile High Memories In Denver!

Over the next 4 months, my dad will travel more than 30,000 miles to host and honor military heroes at all 32 NFL stadiums in one season.  In fact, he has 44 games on the schedule & will do just about anything to put a smile on a warriors face.

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

MEET THE WARRIORS

MARINE CPL GAME MARTINEZ 

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Corporal Gabriel Martinez and his wife, Kayla, were married only three months before Gabe was deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion (CEB) in October 2010. Just one month later, on Thanksgiving Day, Gabe called Kayla with the devastating news that he had been injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast and medevaced out with one of his best friends. Both men lost their legs.Gabe and Kayla Martinez

The Semper Fi Fund supported Gabe’s family while they were with Gabe in the hospital in Bethesda, MD so that they could remain by his side when he needed them most without added financial pressure. The Semper Fi Fund
also helped Gabe and Kayla move their belongings to their new home in California and provided additional assistance to Gabe’s family, allowing them to visit him when he left the hospital without having to worry about financial repercussions. Gabe was even able to purchase specialized athletic equipment and an adaptive truck, thanks to the assistance of the Semper Fi Fund.

Despite the loss of his legs, Gabe continues to be an extremely positive young man, always in a good mood and wearing a smile! In no time at all, Gabe learned to walk again on his new legs and has since been very busy rock climbing, skiing, biking and handcycling. He is also an active member of Team Semper Fi.Gabriel Martinez on hand cycle

However, Gabe does still face certain difficulties of walking on prosthetic legs. For example, he sometimes has trouble bending down to pick things up. In 2011, to help him in his daily life, Gabe received a service dog that he named Wonka. Wonka can pick things up for Gabe and open doors when Gabe is in his wheelchair. Wonka can even fetch a drink from the refrigerator! In early 2012, Wonka became ill due to something that he had ingested. The Semper Fi Fund’s Tim and Sandy Day Canine Companion Program took care of veterinary expenses, as well as necessities for Wonka, such as dog food. Wonka quickly returned to health and went back to assisting Gabe, who says he “feels blessed” to have a friend like Wonka in his life.

While heroically standing by Gabe’s side and helping him during recovery, Kayla also managed to accomplish milestones of her own. In May 2011, Kayla received her bachelor’s degree. She is also very active at the hospital helping other young wives of injured service members deal with the new challenges they face. She wants to make sure they know they’re not alone.

On October 30, 2012, Gabe and Kayla celebrated the birth of their first child – their beautiful daughter, Madelynn Grace Martinez.

Gabe is an inspiration to us all. He says his favorite quote is, “Tough times don’t last, but tough Marines do.” In the case of this Marine, that is surely a fact.

Source: https://semperfifund.org/hero-stories/hero-story-corporal-gabriel-martinez-usmc/

MARINE CPL JERRY BROESCH

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Cpl. Broesch enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17. As soon as he turned 18 and graduated from High School he went to boot camp. He spent 4 years on active duty as an 351, Antitank Assault Man, in places like Okinawa and almost 2 years in Rota, Spain. Once his enlistment was up he returned to Idaho, to be recalled for Desert Storm, for a very brief time. He came back to Idaho, went to the University of Idaho and earned his B.S. in Environmental Science while caring for a wife and young daughter. He worked as an Environmental Specialist with the County and served on the State Hazmat Team. In 2002 he joined the Idaho National Guard because he still had a strong desire to serve his country. In 2004 he deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq with the HHC 116th Engr. Bn. as a 74D. While going out on a mission on Oct 26, 2005 he was in HMMVEE accident during which he suffered among other things a broken neck and back. After he returned home and got back on the mend he decided to volunteer to go to Iraq with another unit out of California that needed some help. So in 2007 he left again for Iraq this time as a 11B January 23, 2008 he was on a mission and blew out his knee and re-injured his neck and back. This was the final straw for his body. He underwent back surgery, neck surgery, wrist surgery, knee surgery, he suffered a TBI and bi-lateral hearing loss. He has spent the last 8 years in physical therapy. He was medically retired in April 2014 with almost 19 years of service spanning 4 decades.

In 2011 Jerry and his family were honored when they were chosen as the Army Family of the Year and the Military Family of the year by the National Military Family Association. This was the first time a National Guard Family has ever been recognized.

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Jerry lives in North Idaho where he was born and raised. He and his wife have been together for 26 years. They have a 13 year old daughter. They have a 21 year old daughter who is married and has their 2 year old grandson. Jerry loves spending time with his family, fishing and camping.

Some of his awards include: Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Over Seas Ribbon w/1 star, Letter of Appreciation (3rd award), Meritorious Mast (2nd award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd award), Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/M device, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal w/Campaign Star, Army Service Ribbon, USN Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

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

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

Instagram “@WarriorWishes

www.WarriorWishes.org

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