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Game 5 – Making Warrior Wishes Come True in Atlanta!

After making Warrior Wishes come true at the Carolina Panthers game on Thursday night…

My dad did some sightseeing around Charlotte on Friday before catching his first $1 megabus ride of the season to Atlanta.

We have made some amazing memories making Warrior Wishes come true in Atlanta. We’ve hosted warriors at both the old and new stadiums for both the Braves and Falcons. And we even had the opportunity to make Wishes come true at the Super Bowl in Atlanta back in February!

Today we were honored to be hosting 2 different families rooting for 2 different teams at the game. Army Sgt Wayne Stiles and his family was geared up rooting for the Falcons…

And Army Sgt Paul DiPaolo and his family was cheering on the Eagles!

Sgt Stiles was injured, just days before coming home from Afghanistan in july of 2016. Wayne was nominated to us by his wife, who tells us that he absolutely “LOVES” the Falcons. Her wish was to send her husband to a game with the family. It’s an honor to make this warrior wish come true!

Army Sgt Paul DiPaolo joined the Army in 2012. Unfortunately, he had to medically retire from the Army in 2017.  Today, Paul is back in school full time. His wife, who nominated him, says “he works his butt off to maintain passing while navigating through surgeries, procedures and appointments. There is only one time I see him truly escape from life for a little bit and that’s when his Philadelphia Eagles are playing! He bonds with our 6 year old mostly through this! They share the same passion watching and cheering together.”

My dad & I can relate to Paul & his son well. Because we too bonded through football. It was an honor to host them at their first ever Eagles game together!

Before the game, my dad met up with the DiPaolo family at the Georgia Aquarium.

The Georgia Aquarium is home to hundreds of exhibits and tens of thousands of animals across its seven major galleries, all of which reside in 10 million US gallons of marine and salt water! It claims to be one of the largest aquariums in the world!

While the DiPaolo family enjoyed touring the aquarium, my dad made his way to meet the Stiles family for lunch before the game.

Eventually both families made their way over to the Mercedes Benz stadium.

Thanks to Steve Cannon, the chief executive officer of AMB Group, the Stiles family had the opportunity to watch pregame warm ups from the field!

We cannot thank Steve enough for his support throughout the years. From helping us make Warrior Wishes come true at Super Bowl, to helping us host a group of warriors in a suite in New Orleans, he has helped make a lot of wishes come true! Steve is also a veteran him self, so we are thankful for his service too!

Both families enjoyed cheering on their teams.  The Falcons pretty much dominated the Eagles in the first half, but the Eagles never gave up and scored a go ahead touchdown with 3 minutes left in the game.

On 4th down with a little more than 2 minutes left in the game, Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones who sprinted sown the field for a 53 yard touchdown and sent the stadium into a frenzy!  It was a very exciting game for both teams but in the end, the Falcons won 24-20.

Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Dan Tannas Restaurant, New Era Cap, and Steve Cannon for helping us make these warrior wishes come true!

After the game, my dad made his way to the airport to get a couple of hours of sleep before his 5am flight to Newark NJ.  He will be back in action tomorrow making wishes come true at the Jets game!  Stay tuned for more details!

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Game 55 – Warriors Have “One Of The Best Days Of Their Lives” at Super Bowl LII!

After an unforgettable week of making warrior Wishes come true during Super Bowl week in Minnesota, you would not think it could get any better… but we were just getting started!

Super Bowl Weekend turned out to be an incredible experience for 4 inspirational warriors. We were honored to be hosting Marine Cpl Carlos Garcia, Army Sgt John Friesel, Navy Seal Chris Serle & Army Sgt Greg Hedrick at the “Big Game.”

MEET THE WARRIORS 

MARINE CPL CARLOS GARCIA

Marine Corporal Carlos Garcia was on his first deployment when he was severely injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Sangin, Afghanistan on Nov. 20, 2010.  While on a foot patrol with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Cpl Garcia was in a familiar area near a canal that was frequently used by his squad when he stepped on an unidentified IED. The resulting injuries were so severe that both of his legs required amputations above the knee.

See how big of an Eagles fan Carlos is here!

ARMY SSG JOHN KRIESEL

On December 2006 the vehicle Kriesel and four of his comrades were riding in encountered a 200 lb. Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The blast killed two of Kriesel’s best friends and he was severely injured, losing both legs, suffering numerous broken bones and internal injuries. He was transported to two field hospitals in Iraq where he died three times on the operating table before doctors saved his life. He woke up in Walter Reed Army Medical Center after an 8-day medically induced coma where he learned about the death of his two comrades and the severity of his injuries.  Nine months after his near-death experience in Iraq, John returned to Minnesota to begin his new life. His transition from military to civilian life offered many challenges, humor allowed him to bounce back stronger than ever.

Learn More About SGT Kriesel, buy his book & get inspired here!

NAVY SEAL CHRIS SERLE

Chris Serle was a Navy SEAL on team 2 on his first deployment, when the worst thing imaginable happened. Chris’s best friend who was walking next to him stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) and lost both of his legs- and Chris lost the vision in one of his eyes. Both men were unable to continue their service in the military, and are now medically retired with Purple Hearts. Chris continued on with his education in order to continue helping people, and was just accepted into Eastern Virginia Medical School to start their program this summer to become a doctor. Chris has been an Eagles fan all his life & having the chance to see his team in the Super Bowl was a dream come True!

ARMY SGT GREG HEDRICK

Greg served two deployments in Iraq and a third in Afghanistan. On September 20, 2012, he was on a mission to recover a downed vehicle that had been struck by an improvised explosive device (IED). It was then that his own vehicle was struck by an armor piercing rocket propelled grenade. The attack left one dead and two injured. Greg lost his left leg above the knee, most of his left hand, and suffered severe PTS and TBI. He was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he underwent countless surgeries and years of physical therapy.

While in the hospital, Greg was visited by US Army SSG Travis Mills, an inspirational quadruple amputee who we had the honor of hosting at the Superbowl in 2014. and He believes Travis’ inspiring words marked a turning point in his own journey of recovery.  Greg has also been an Eagles fan all his life and was beyond excited to see them play in the Big Game!

Greg & Chris were first to arrive in the “Twin Cities.” They were escorted in via private jet thanks to David, Jen and Veterans Airlift Command.

Carlos arrived shortly after, however, he flew into Minneapolis airport across town.

The Minneapolis Fire Dept teamed up with us to provide the warriors with transportation all weekend long! We cannot thank them enough for helping the guys get around the city.

Unfortunately our original 4th guest, a Warrior from Boston who is a diehard Patriots fan, had a last minute family emergency to attend to and could not make it out to Minnesota. So we decided to fill his spot at last minute with local Minnesota wounded veteran, Army Sgt John Friesel.

After all the warriors had arrived in town, my dad stopped to pick up the Super Bowl tickets from our friends at ESPN.

Then Pierce, our Minnesota Fire Dept chauffeur suggested that they all stop to get a famous Minnesota “Jucy Lucy” before making their way to the house.  For those of you who don’t know, a “Jucy Lucy” is a Burger stuffed with Cheese & other fillings. They even have one filled with peanut butter & a “Thanksgiving” burger stuffed with turkey, cranberries! It was a unique dining experience that the warriors enjoyed.

Eventually the group made their way about 15 minutes outside of downtown to “check in” to the rental house. With hotel rooms fetching a minimum of $750 a night, we decided to rent a house. We got lucky & found a 3 bedroom rental for $750 per night. This gave the warriors the opportunity to hang out with each other & they each had their own room. Plus the lady we rented the house from provided them with a little welcome package full of snacks for their stay. It worked out perfectly!

After “checking in” the guys made the decision to head back downtown to experience the Super Bowl atmosphere & festivities. The snow & ice made it a little challenging to get around but thankfully the skyway connected many of the venues, so everyone stayed nice & warm.

Eventually everyone made their way back to the house around midnight to settle in & rest up for the big game!

Minnesota firefighter Shane Thorn, also a Marine, was at the house at 11am to escort the guys downtown to their VIP tailgate before the game.  The warriors were pumped up for their Super Bowl experience. Carlos even came prepared with his “Dog Mask.” (An Eagles novelty because they have been “underdogs” all season)

The guys met up with Army Sgt John Kriesel and Marine Mark Toppel (Warrior Wishes board member) at Fire Station 1 which was connected to the tailgate across the street from US Bank stadium.

Thanks to our friends at Bullseye event group, our group was treated to a VIP tailgate experience before the big game for the 2nd straight year. This year’s event was once again filled with players & celebrities. Celebrity Chef, Guy Fieri was once again in charge of the delicious food. Guy made sure to stop by to thank the warriors for their service & sacrifices before the event kicked off.

The tailgate was quite a bit more crowded than usual due to the fact that in all the other warm climate Super Bowls have outdoor and indoor seating areas. With temperatures in the single digits, Minnesota’s event did not have any outdoor seating…  Thankfully, Bullseye provided a reserved table which made it a little easier for the warriors.

The guys collected autographs from players, and enjoyed a few hours of delicious food and drinks before making their way over to the stadium to see the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII!

My dad & Mark escorted the warriors to the stadium to make sure they got in without any issues & hit the road back home before the game even started.  Meanwhile, the guys were inside US Bank stadium “Jacked as Heck” to experience the Super Bowl!

The Eagles were big underdogs going into the game. Partly because they were playing the Patriots & they also had a backup QB under center. But on any given Sunday, anything can happen. Carlos, Chris & Greg were all hoping to see their eagles win their first ever title in team history. John was rooting against the Eagles only because they just knocked out his Vikings for a chance to play in the big game at “home.” They all just hoped to see a great game

And a great game they got! The teams exchanged field goals on their opening possessions of the game. On the Eagles 2nd possession of the game they only needed 3 plays to find the end zone to take an early lead into the 2nd quarter.

The Eagles had control of the game & looked as if they were going to coast to an easy win. But late in the first half, Hsu committed 2 defensive penalties to set up he Patriots for an easy score.

I think many people thought that was going to be the turning point of the game… but the Eagles, with just over 2 minutes left in the half, wanted to get the momentum back on their side and took just over a minute to march down the field on 7 plays and hit paydirt just before the half.

My dad said it was weird not watching the big game, but he and Mark listened to the game on the radio the whole way home. He said he could only imagine how much fun the warriors were having watching the roller coaster first half.

The guys enjoyed watching Justin Timberlake perform during the halftime show & were excited to see how this game would play out. They never expected the offensive explosion both teams would have in the 2nd half.

The Patriots scored first, the Eagles answered. The Patriots marched down the field and scored again to cut the Eagles lead to 3. The Eagles marched down and answered again with a field goal of their own. Patriots marched and scored their 3rd TD in as many possessions and the Eagles once again answered with a TD of their own.

The biggest play of the game came late in the 4th quarter. With both defenses struggling to stop the other team, the Eagles were able to strip the ball away from tom brady & recovered the fumble! The turnover set them up for a chip shot field goal to give Philadelphia a 41-33 lead & ice the game!

My dad arrived home to see the last play of the game & The underdog Philadelphia Eagles were world champions for the first time ever! Carlos, Chris & Greg, 3 of the biggest Eagles fans we have ever met, celebrated their Victory!

The Eagles thrilling 41-33 victory made 3 of our heroes VERY happy and John was just happy to be there and even called it “one of the best days of my life.”

It’s always humbling when we hear those words. It never gets old & we are so honored & proud to have had the opportunity to provide these experiences for the brave warriors who deserve it!

After making Warrior Wishes come true & providing unforgettable experiences at more than 50 NFL games throughout the 2017 season, including the Pro Bowl & Super Bowl, we can officially say “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!”

SEE ALL THE 2017 “ALL32IN17” HIGHLIGHTS HERE!

We are so incredibly thankful to everyone all season long who helped us make each warriors experience special. Without all of you, we could not have made it all possible!  And we couldn’t have made this Super Bowl experience “one of the best days of these warriors lives” without all of these amazing people & organizations!

Thanks to Denise, Chris and the entire ESPN crew that has been helping make wishes come true since 2012!

Thanks to Walt & Jen at Veterans Airlift Command for setting up private flights, as well as David, Eric and Bob who flew the warriors to Minnesota & back!

Thanks to Kyle and John at the Bullseye Event Group for providing VIP Tailgate Passes, thanks to Guy Fieri for hanging out with the guys for awhile!

Thanks to Chief Fruetel, Chief Tyner and the entire Minneapolis Fire Dept for setting up transportation around town for our Super Bowl VIP guests! Thank you to Pierce and Shane for being the hands on guys that provided that transportation,and hung our with the guys all weekend!

Thanks to New Era Cap for providing caps to the warriors all season long!

Thanks to the kids at Clinton and Ridge View elementary Schools in IL for providing thank you cards & letters for their us to present to the warriors!

TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly, Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Army Sgt Greg Hedrick, Navy Seal Chris Serle, Army Sgt John Kriesel & Marine Carlos Garcia for your service & sacrifices to our country. It was an absolute honor to have the opportunity to give back to you & host you all at the Super Bowl! We truly hope it was everything you had hoped it would be & an experience you will never forget!

My dad will be taking a few weeks off to prepare for our upcoming Battlefields to Ballfields mission. Make sure to nominate your hero today & let’s make their Warrior Wishes come true!

Thank You For Your Support!

Follow the Mission at www.warriorwishes.org or on Facebook @ Operation Warrior Wishes

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Game 36 – Warrior Wishes Come True At The Eagles Game!

After the Falcons helped us make Warrior Wishes come true in atlanta, my dad spent the night at the airport and was on the first flight to Philadelphia early Monday morning.

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My dad arrived in Philadelphia around 10:30 which gave him a little time to catch up on blog posts from the last few game.  Tonight my dad will make warrior wishes come true at the 30th of the 32 stadiums he has attended this year – only the Jaguars and Jets remain.  

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

My dad says the Philadelphia Eagles have one of the most convenient venues, due to the easy access of all 3 stadiums/arenas from both bus station and airport. It is the only city in the country where all 4 of their sports teams are located on pretty much the same block. 

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Here are some of our favorite memories from making wishes come true at the Eagles games since 2012.  

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McFadden’s Restaurant which is attached to Phillies stadium, has been a big supporter of our mission over the past 5 years.   They have gone above & beyond to provide meals to the Warriors we host every time we come to Philadelphia.

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In fact, McFadden’s has become our “Official” Philly meeting place. This year my dad was honored to be hosting military  brothers Calvin and Dylan Colclaugh. They were nominated by their mother Susan, who wanted to get both of her Marine sons together for a special night. When we called them to offer the experience, there was one catch – Calvin actually lives in North Carolina, and mom was not sure they would be able to pull it off. But once Calvin heard about the opportunity, he loaded up the family and headed out on a 9 hour drive to Philadelphia to hang out with his brother, while the kids hang out with grandma. 

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Next to arrive was Marine Cpl Brandon Stingo, who was attending the game with his dad Christopher.  Christopher was also an Army Veteran.  As everyone ate dinner,  the local ESPN 610 radio show was doing a live broadcast right in front of their table.  They presented the warriors with T-Shirts & My dad presented them with brand new New Era Eagles Caps & thank you letters from children.  

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My dad also heard that one of our previous Eagles guests, Kevin McCloskey and his new bride Bridgett were going to the game too.  So he invited them to dinner as well.  It gave them the chance to catch up. We look forward to seeing Kevin at our 2017 Warrior Wishes scramble!  

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After the delicious meal thanks to McFaddens, everyone walked across the street to Lincoln Financial Field to watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on Packers.  

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Unfortunately for the Warriors, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Eagles 24-13.  Despite the loss, everyone still had a great time!  

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Operation warrior wishes would like to thank Johnna and Dale at McFaddens for the delicious pregame meal & their continued support of our mission.  We also want to thank New Era Cap for eagles Caps and Chive Charities for T-shirts.

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly, thank you to Army Veteran Christopher Stingo, Marine Cpl Brandon Stingo  and marine brothers Calvin & Dylan Colclaugh for their service & sacrifices to our country.  Your service & sacrifices are appreciated, have not gone unnoticed & will never be forgotten.  

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My dad will be spending the night at the airport before hopping on a flight first thing tomorrow Morning to spend one day at home before heading back to Minnesota for his 2nd Vikings game of the season. Stay tuned for more details.

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MEET THE WARRIORS

ARMY SPC CHRISTOPHER STINGO

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Specialist Christopher Stingo (1985-1992)
MOS: 94B Food Service Specialist
Enlisted into the US Army in Oct 1985
Went to Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training in Ft Dix, NJ 1985
Was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany attached to the 1st Infantry Division Foward (Big Red One), Armored Infantry Battalion 1986-1988
Sent to Ft Sill, OK attached to, 299th Engineer Battalion 1988-1989
Got off Active Duty and joined the Army National Guard attached to the 242 Signal Battalion attached to the 42nd Infantry Division in support of Ft Drum, NY who was forward deployed for Operation Desert Storm 1988-1992

 USMC CPL BRANDON STINGO (2012-Present)

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MOS: 1345 Heavy Equipment Operator
Enlisted into the USMC in May 2012
Went to Parris Island, SC for boot camp on Oct 15, 2012
Was stationed on Camp Lejuene, NC from June 2013 – Oct 2016 attached to II Marine Expeditionary Force, II Marine Headquarters Group, 8th Communication Battalion
Got off active duty and transitioned to the United States Marine Corps Reserve (USMCR) on Oct 15, 2016 assigned to  Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 472 Det (-) in Ft Dix, NJ
USMC SGT CALVIN COLLIDING
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Sgt. United States Marines
Infantry Division 2006-2014
5 Deployments: Iraq and Afghanistan
Platoon Sgt., conducting Helo born operations/ Intel. Ops
Awarded Naval/Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Second Award with Valor Distinguish Service
2013 attached to Recon in Spain & Africa as “Quick Reaction Force” serving Embassies
USMC CPL DYLAN A. FOLLOWING
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Cpl. United States Marines
Infantry Division 2011-2014
Squad Leader: 2 Deployments
Philippines & Korea
National Defense Medal
Sea Service w/ Bronze Star
War on Terrorism
Korean Medal

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

2016 ALL32IN17 Schedule

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

Instagram “@WarriorWishes

www.WarriorWishes.org

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

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Game 16 – Warrior Wishes Come True In Philly!

For the 2nd consecutive night, my dad found himself arriving at 30th street station in Philadelphia during the middle of the night.  With it being too late to get a hotel for the night he got a few hours of rest before finalizing his plans to make warrior wishes come true at the Eagles game.

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This was our 16th game of this season!  Today we had the pleasure of hosting Army SGT Gregory Hedrick & Marine Anthony Trzeciak at the Eagles game & make their warrior wishes come true!  (Meet the Warriors below)
Here are some of our favorite memories from making Warrior Wishes come true in Philly!
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My dad met up with SGT Hedrick at Eastern State Penitentiary to take a tour of the creepy old prison before the game.
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Eastern State Penitentiary is a very intimidating place.  With a Medieval castle appearance and 30 foot tall fortress walls surrounding the “Wagon-wheeled” shaped prison, it’s the perfect setting for a haunted house.  In fact, The prison is considered to be one of the most haunted locations in the world.  3 years ago when we toured the prison we snapped this picture in death row, notice all the orbs surrounding us.  
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The prison opened in 1829, visitors from around the world marveled at its grand architecture (John Havilland) and radical philosophy. The experiment, to reform criminals through strict isolation, soon became a model for prison design world wide. An estimated 300 prisons on four continents are based on Eastern’s distinctive “wagon-wheel” floor plan. Once the most expensive building in the USA, Eastern State was finally abandoned in 1971 after 142 years in use. It is now a National Historic Landmark & a must do when visiting Philadelphia!
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Thankfully everyone made it out of the penitentiary without any ghostly encounters and they made their way over to Mcfadden’s by the stadium to meet Anthony & get a bite to eat before the game.
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McFadden’s Ballpark at Citizen’s Bank Park opened it’s doors for business in 2004 and has since become the go-to place for Philly Sports Fans. With 47 Hi-Def Plasma TV’s and 3 Giant Projector Screens, McFadden’s Ballpark has provided the perfect venue to get to know the Warriors before each game in Philly!
We had a little bit of time to tailgate with our philly friends before watching the Giants and Eagles kickoff The Monday night game.
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The Eagles gave the Warriors plenty to cheer about as they went on to beat the Giants by the score of 27-7!
We would like to thank Eastern State Penitentiary for providing the spooky tour of the prison, Mcfadden’s for providing a delicious meal before the game, Dan & Dave for the Shish Ka Bobs, our friend Ed Salomeh for donating tickets for the warriors, New Era for providing Eagles caps & most importantly we would like to thank Anthony & Greg for your selfless service & sacrifices for our country!
My dad will be taking this Thursday off to spend some time at home with the family before we head out to the west coast this weekend to make warrior wishes come true in San Diego & Arizona!
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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
MEET THE WARRIORS
ARMY SGT GREGORY HEDRICK
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SGT Gregory Hedrick was born & raised in Philadelphia.  He joined the Army in Dec of 2003 & Served a total of 11 years! 2 Iraq tours and one to Afghanistan.

On September 20th 2012, while serving in Afghanistan, Greg was injured when an armor piercing RPG struck his truck. resulting in the loss of his left leg and the loss of 3 fingers on his left hand. Sgt Hedrick spent over 2 years at Walter Reed recovering from his injuries.  

Saying Greg is a huge Eagles fan is an understatement.  He is the biggest Eagles fan we have ever met!

Greg is married and has 3 boys that keep him busy.  He was medically retired from the Army this past February.

MARINE ANTHONY TRZECIAK

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Anthony joined the United States Marine Corps In January 2008.  He deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and shortly after returning home he deployed again on a humanitarian mission to Haiti to aid with the Earthquake. 

In March of 2011 Trzeciak deployed to Afghanistan for a seven month combat deployment. He was on a motor convoy when his vehicle was struck by an I.E.D and severely injured his back.  Upon his return home Anthony became paralyzed from the waist down.

Trzeciak now enjoys spending time with his wife and son, who was born while Anthony was deployed in Afghanistan.

Anthony works every day on building his strength and staying as healthy as he can.  His wife, who is his full time caregiver, are expecting their second child in January of 2016. Anthony & his family are planning to move to Tampa, Florida so He can receive physical therapy from the VA facility.

It was an honor to make these Warrior Wishes come true!