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The Miami Marlins Keep Legacies Alive & Honor Gold Star Families!

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.  

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Today he was on a mission to honor Gold Star Families at the Marlins game.

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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.  

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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.  

IMG_2340 IMG_2339 Air Force Master Sgt Martin Laureano Gonzales, who was affiliated with the Air National Guard, was among four people killed in Saturday's apparently accidental crash of a drug-hunting plane in Colombia, the U.S. Southern Command said Wednesday. (Photo courtesy U.S. Southern Command via Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)

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.

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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.  

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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.  

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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.  

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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!  

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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!

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MEET THE WARRIORS

PFC MARIUS FERRERO

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SFC LARRY VAQUERO

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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.

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Wayne Ellington & The Heat Make Warrior Wishes Come True!

After an amazing day in Tampa where Warrior Wishes came true at both the Rays & Lightning games, my dad was off to Miami for a few days to host warriors and honor legacies at the Heat & Marlins games.

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Tonight’s event has been almost a year in the making. Last year at our 3rd annual Warrior Wishes Scramble, one of the Warriors, Jeremy Rist, said he had a cousin who was a friend of Miami Heat player Wayne Ellington. So for the last few months we have been working on setting up a Miami Heat experience – tonight was that experience, and what a great one it was!

My dad arrived in Miami around 2:30pm.  He immediately made his way downtown to the American Airlines Arena. 

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He had a couple of hours to explore, & get a little work done before meeting some of the warriors for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe Miami. 

Nara, the GM at the hard rock was excited for the opportunity to host the Warriors.   She even put together a gift bag for them.

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The Miami Hard Rock is one of the coolest restaurants in town! Located in the Bayside Marketplace on Miami’s beautiful Biscayne Bay, there’s no better place for handcrafted cocktails and Legendary® Burgers!  Their walls are covered in the exclusive music memorabilia upon which legends were made!

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Everyone enjoyed dinner & we cannot thank the Hard Rock Cafe Miami enough for rolling out the “Red Carpet” & providing a “VIP” dining experience!  

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After dinner, everyone walked over to the arena & meet up with our other guests. 

We were honored to be hosting Marine SGT Michael Allison, Army SGT Steven Mentor, Marine Veteran Manuel Gomez & their family members.  We were also honored to host the Gold Star family of PFC Marius Ferraro.  

My dad snapped a couple of group pictures in front of the Arena before heading inside to see the Cavs take on the Heat!

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Once inside they made their way to their 10th row seats thanks to Wayne Ellington! 

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This was a must win game for the Heat, as they were battling for a spot in the playoffs.  The warriors cheered them on as they went back and forth in a seesaw game.  Eventually the game went to overtime and the Heat came away with the 124-121 victory over Lebron James & the Cavs keeping their playoff hopes alive!  Needless to say, everyone was excited about the win, but the experience was not over yet…

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After the game, Wayne Ellington wanted to meet the warriors and thank them for their service.  Ellington scored 12 points on the night including clutch 3 pointers that helped the Heat to Victory!  

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While waiting to meet Wayne, the warriors got an unexpected surprise from another superstar from another sport.  Pittsburgh Steelers WR, Antonio Brown, was also at the game & took the time to thank the Warriors for their service & sacrifices!  The smile on their faces says it all!  

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Once Wayne made his way out of the locker room to meet everyone after the game, he invited them onto the court to take a group picture. 

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He also took his time with each of the Warriors and their families to thank them for their service.  Each family got their own photo and autographs. 

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As the clock struck midnight, we said our goodbyes and everyone headed home… Well except my dad – he had planned to grab bus to airport and sleep there, However, the last bus there had already left… So my dad just layed down on bench down by the ocean and got a couple hours of sleep. He said It was a beautiful night to “campout.”

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Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Wayne Ellington and the Miami Heat for going above and beyond to provide an unforgettable experience to all of the Warriors & their families.  We also want to thank Nara and Hard Rock Cafe for providing the pregame meal, Antonio Brown for taking time to meet the Warriors  & New Era for providing the Heat Caps. 

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly, we hope you join us in thanking the warriors and their families for their service and sacrifice to our country!  May we never forget the sacrifices they make!

My dad will be up early to catch the sunrise over the ocean.

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He will be back in action honoring the legacies of a few Fallen Heroes at tomorrow’s Marlins game.  Stay tuned for more details!

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MEET THE WARRIORS

MARINE SGT MICHAEL ALLISON

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Michael W. Allison, born in St. Catharine, Jamaica and raised in Miami, FL. During his childhood, Michael excelled in art, several sports and worked at Papa John’s Pizza Corporation throughout high school. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps , where he completed his basic training at Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Beaufort, SC. Michael completed eight (8) years of honorable service with tours at Camp Lejeune, NC, Okinawa, Japan, Camp Pendleton, CA, Al Fallujah, Iraq and Quantico, VA. In 2004, he served in combat zone of the Iraq War in Anbar Province cities of Fallujah and Ramadi; through selfless acts and moments of courage, Michael became a recipient of numerous awards to include two Navy Achievement Medals and the Purple Heart Medal. Michael is an active alumnus of the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Team Semper Fi, Salute Military Golf Association (SMGA), Fairways for Warriors, No Barriers Warriors, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Disabled Sports USA, Purple Heart Military Order (PHMO), Project Management Institute (PMI) and a volunteer with the American Heart Association.

Once honorably and bravely serving his country, Michael worked for Norfolk Southern Railroad Corporation as a Trainmaster Manager of Operations for 5 years in Atlanta, GA. He was assigned additional duties as both the Vice President of the District Safety Committee and a member of the Safety Performance Innovation Respect Integrity and Teamwork (SPIRIT) committee. He also collaboratively worked on several successful Train Performance, Fuel Efficiency and Personnel Management Projects saving his assigned district over $5 million, where he later was recognized for his efforts and received the Train Performance SPIRIT Award for the 2010 1st quarter with Norfolk Southern Railroad Corporation Georgia Division.

Currently, Michael works for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Information Technology (OI&T) as an IT Project Manager in Miami, FL. Michael is a single father to one son named Omar.

Michael is a continuous scholar, as he has attained his Federal Acquisition Certification for Program and Project Managers (FAC-P/PM), Federal Acquisition Certification Contracting Officer’s Representatives (FAC-COR) certification and completed the Information Technology Program from the Information Technology Academy of South Florida. Additionally, he has achieved his Applied Associate of Science (AA) in Homeland Security and Emergency Management from Central Texas College, Bachelors of Science (BS) in Business Information Security from Indiana Wesleyan University (Cum Laude) and attained his Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in Applied Management from Indiana Wesleyan University summer 2015. Michael, is currently in pursuit of earning his Six Sigma Green & Black Belt Certification and Project Management Professional (PMP) certification

ARMY SGT STEVEN MENTOR

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I joined the us army 19 sep 2001 right out of high school. I was sent to basic training at ft lenord wood missouri for basic training and AIT. I graduated on January of 2002. My first duty station was with the 230th mp co out of kaiserslaughtern Germany. 230th mp co. I was only there for a couple of months before I deployed to Kosovo camp bondsteel for six months. I left June 2002 and returned later that same year. I deployed to Iraq in 2004 for a year. We where stationed Bagram Airbase. 230th mp lost there first soldier Johnathan kephart. We finished that year without losing anybody else. I returned to Germany and finished my tour and ets 230th mp co in 2006. I joined the national guard in october 2006 and within one year I was mobilized to north florida to assist with the forest fires. In 2008 I was once again deployed to Afghanistan with the 715th mp co. We did prison duty and visitation while being deployed. Return home one year later on the 3 of July.

PFC MARIUS FERRERO

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The Blue Jackets Make Warrior Wishes Come True!

My dad has been on the road making Warrior Wishes come true since last Thursday.  He’s made stops in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, New York, Philadelphia, Boston & Washington DC.  

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For the 7th time in 8 days, my dad took another overnight bus & arrived in Columbus, Ohio on Friday afternoon.  

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This is our first ever visit to Columbus to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Blue Jackets game!

We have done a couple Ohio State games in the past, but neither were home game in Columbus.  One of them was the BCS National Championship Game in 2015.

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Upon arrival after his 10 hour bus ride, my dad had some time to explore the “new city” and figure out where he was going, since he had never been there before.  He stopped by the Ohio State campus & found his way to Nationwide Arena, home to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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This was the first day in the past 9 days that my dad got a “day off” as the Blue Jackets game wasn’t until Saturday.  But if you recall a few days back, when my dad was making wishes come true at the Rangers game, my dad learned that the USA Warriors hockey team was going to be in Columbus playing a game today!

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So instead of just getting a hotel and resting up, he spent his “day off” cheering on the USA warriors hockey team!  He enjoyed watching Army CPL Johnny Laursen defend the goal!  

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In addition to seeing Johnny again, My dad also got to see Kevin Gatson as well.  Kevin was our guest to the Penguins game last week.  He too plays for the USA Warriors sled team.  My dad enjoyed seeing them, as well as all of the players on the USA Warriors team who we have come to know over past few years.

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 After the game, my dad joined the USA warriors at their “after party” where he met up with our friend Shawn “Whodeybaby” Moore. Shawn himself is a veteran.  He is the Cincinnati Bengals most iconic Super fan.  He and the Bengal Bomb Squad have been making warrior wishes come true since 2012.   They have also raised money for our mission.  Shawn lives in Columbus & couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet up with some of the Warriors and my dad.  My dad said he hardly recognized him without his face paint & bengals gear.

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After the party, my dad finally got to sleep in a bed at a hotel.  Yes, you read that correctly, he actually got a hotel for the first time in 10 days…  I got lucky & “named my own price” to get a hotel for $60. My dad couldn’t pass it up.  Needless to say, he slept like a baby!

He woke up the next morning & made his way down to the lobby to realize he was actually staying at the Flyers hotel.  He was able to talk to a few of the players and coaches about our mission.

Thanks to our friends at Gordon Biersch, located right outside the stadium, My dad met up with all the Warriors & a very special Gold Star family before the game.  

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We were honored to be hosting Army warriors,  Sgt Aaron Barnhardt, Sgt Tony Robinson, Sgt Joe Schiefer, and Sgt First Class Daniel Jensen along with the Gold Star family of Army Sgt Arthur Mora.

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Lunch was awesome as everyone had a great time getting to know each other over a delicious meal.  My dad also distributed some awesome patriotic Blue Jackets Caps from our friends at Ner Era.  We can’t thank Gordon Biersch & New Era for their continued partnerships!

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After everyone finished lunch, they made their way to “Nationwide Arena” in their new Caps to take a few pictures in front of the stadium before heading inside.  

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Once inside the stadium, everyone made their way to great seats provided by the team & they watched a defensive battle between the Flyers & Blue Jackets.  Despite the lack of scoring, there was no shortage of action as both teams fought early and often.  Everyone enjoyed watching the teams “duke it out.” In the end, the Blue Jackets came out on top scoring the only goal of the game and sent everyone home happy!

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I think it’s safe to say, our inaugural Columbus trip to see the Blue Jackets was an incredible success!  My dad said the city of Columbus was great & he looks forward to making more wishes come true there again in the future!  

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Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank, the Columbus Blue Jackets organization for providing an unforgettable experience at Nationwide Arena!  We also want to thank Valerie & Stuart at Gordon Biersch for providing the pregame meal & New Era for hooking up the Warriors with the awesome Blue Jackets caps!  

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly, we want to thank Army Warriors Aaron Barnhardt, Tony Robinson, Joe Schiefer & Daniel Jensen as well as the Gold Star Family of Army SGT Arthur Mora.  Your service and sacrifices are appreciated, they have not gone unnoticed and will never be forgotten!  

After the game, My dad said his goodbyes to both our guests and the USA Warriors hockey team, who were also at the game.  Thankfully for my dad, it was an early game which meant my dad could catch an early bus home and sleep in his own bed after being on the road making wishes come true at 11 games in the past 11 days!   He will have a week off before heading back out on the road to kick off our Battlefields to Ballfields mission!  Stay tuned for more details!

2017 Battlefields To Ballfields Schedule

MEET THE WARRIORS

ARMY SGT ARTHUR MORA

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SGT Arthur A. Mora, Jr. of Fort Stewart, GA, and formerly of Pico Rivera, CA.  SGT Mora made the Ultimate Sacrifice on October 19, 2005, while serving on active duty in the U.S. Army in Balad, Iraq, where he had been deployed since July 2005.

He was born March 16, 1982, in Monterey Park, CA, to the late Arthur A. Mora, Sr. and Sylvia M. (Ramos) Mora, and a 2000 graduate of El Rancho High School, Pico Rivera, CA. Arthur enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2000 and was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA. – Legacy.com

He grew up on the rough and tough streets of East Los Angeles. All around him were gangs, drug addicts, alcoholics, and trouble. Knowing that this was not the life for him he made his choice at the young age of 5 to join the Army and be a soldier like his Grandpa.” – submitted by family.

Source – http://www.travismanion.org/hero/sgt-arthur-a-mora-usa/

SFC DANIEL JENSEN

SFC Jensen is a native of Minneapolis, MN and graduated from Lehigh Senior High School in 2003. He attended The University of South Florida and Graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in History in 2011. He joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 2003 as a 92A Automated Logistical Specialist and graduated BCT from Ft. Jackson, South Carolina and AIT from Ft. Lee, Virginia. SFC Jensen’s assignments have been 212th Quartermaster Company in Arden Hills, MN, 810th Military Police Company in Tampa, FL as the PLL Clerk, Minneapolis BN as a Recruiter and now in Highland Ridge as a Center Leader.

SFC Jensen’s Professional Development and Schools are as follows: Senior Leader Course, Advanced Leader Course, Primary Leadership Development Course, Center Leader Course and the Army Recruiting Course.

Among his military awards and decorations are: Army Commendation Medal (3rd Award), Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award), Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 3, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (“M” Device and Bronze Hourglass), Iraq Campaign Medal (3 Campaign Stars), Overseas Service Ribbon Numeral 2, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Drivers Badge (Wheeled), Sharpshooter Marksmanship Badge and The Army Recruiting Badge.

ARMY WARRIOR TONY ROBINSON

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My name is Tony Robinson at the age of 18 I was living with my best friend Joe we weren’t really going anywhere in life one day we were sitting around and we watch recruiting videos for the Army we seen one video in particular that caught our eye it was the video for a 19 Delta Cavalry Scout we both thought that sounded really awesome so within the next few days we are at the recruiter’s office and then off to MEPS before we knew it We join under the Buddy program but it didn’t end up going that way and i would leave just a few weeks before Joe we would later run into each other again at Fort Knox Kentucky where we were doing our osut training that was the last time we would see each other during our Enlistment. From there I went to the 2nd Infantry Division 8th Squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment at Fort Lewis Washington I’ve been deployed to Afghanistan as part of the first-ever Stryker Brigade there that was in 2009 I was there until July of 2010 and I got out of the army December 31st 2010 completing my 4 year contract from there I become a security guard not really sure what I wanted to do in life and once again I was bored sitting around watching TV and I found myself watching a show called lock up and I decided I wanted to be a corrections officer and that was back in 2011 I’ve now been a corrections officer for the state of Ohio for five years.