After making Warrior Wishes come true in Tampa on Thursday night, my dad spent the night at the airport and boarded the overnight $1 megabus to Miami.
My dad has been spoiled this season and has had the luxury of flying a little more thanks to his awesome travel coordinator (me) who set up flight alerts & was able to book travel to all 44 NFL games on our schedule for less than $2000!
As you can see, there are a few bus rides still on his itinerary and this was one of them. Thankfully the megabus stop in Miami is right at the airport. So upon arrival, my dad found the most “comfortable” spot around the airport and got a few extra hours of sleep before catching an early morning bus to the newly renovated Hard Rock stadium!
Here are some of our favorite unforgettable memories we have made making Warrior Wishes come true in Miami.
It was important to find an easy and convenient meeting place for today’s game, as my dad was hosting a total of 16 guests in 7 different groups. Fortunately, the tailgate was located directly next to the Orange Lot Pole “East 22” , which was the perfect spot to meet as everyone arrived.
My dad also walked around the whole stadium, to check out where Will Call & Media Entrance was. We had a little bigger crowd today thanks to Eric from the Phin-atics, Linebackers Coach Matt Burke and the Miami Dolphins, who each provided tickets to help us make these warrior wishes come true!
The Dolphins donated a total of 11 tickets! I had the pleasure of meeting one of the Dolphins executives at Jim Brown’s 80th Birthday party in San Francisco during Super Bowl week when we were hosting Master Sgt Cedric King. He told us to reach out to him when we had our regularly scheduled Dolphins game and they would do their best to take care of some warriors – they came thru in a big way & we cannot thank them enough!!!
First to arrive was Army SSG Mike Williams who has been our guest previously but per our “Rule”, he brought along other veterans when asked a second time. Army Sgt Gary Watford and Army Sgt Joshua Wills accompanied him. Army Sgt Duane Pereira and his fiancé Kacie were the next to arrive, followed by 12 year old Max McClimans who came with his cousin Omar. Max is a Gold Star kid who lost his dad, Army Capt Josh McClimans, a few years ago. We had the honor of hosting him and his mom at Marlins game last year. She could not make it this time, so she had her cousin accompany him. Max wanted to go right into the stadium upon arrival to watch the team warm up so my dad walked them & made his way back to “Orange Lot East 22” to meet rest of group that had now also arrived.
Marines Mike Larson and his wife Jennifer, and Marine Michael Allison arrived next . They were followed closely by Army Sgt Tim Beaver and his wife Chrissy , along with Army Spc Ian Vaquero and the Gold Star Family of his brother Larry Vaquero – Lorraine and Paul Pino. That completed our roster of our 16 warrior guests that we were truly honored to host at today’s Dolphins game.
Typically when we host more than 6 warriors we like to try to have at least 2 board members helping coordinate everyone & make sure everyone is having a great time. Unfortunately, my dad was on his own at this game, but did a great job!
There were a lot of “moving parts ” but everything flowed together very nicely as the day progressed. The group spent a lot of time tailgating with the Phin-attics SuperFans outside the stadium before the game. The Phin-attics are a great group of ultimate Dolphins fans who truly have a deep appreciation for all who serve our country! We have enjoyed tailgating with them the past few years.
While everyone was having fun tailgating, my dad spent a lot of time running back and forth to the stadium picking up tickets and making sure each group got in the right seats.
The Warriors enjoyed pregame field passes & got to watch the Dolphins warm up from the sidelines!
And One of the highlights of the day came when Jamie from the Dolphins asked all 9 of the warriors we were hosting to hold the flag for National Anthem!!!
While the guys were having fun on the field, my dad hung out with all the girlfriends & wives, taking pictures from the stands and waiting for the National Anthem to start. The ushers let all of the wives and family members go out by the field in the front row as the National Anthem and flag unfurling began , so they could get some good pictures.
After a very impressive and emotional National Anthem, my dad made sure all 16 of our guests got to their seats and spent the rest of the game hanging out with each of the 3 different groups of seats, he said he “Rotated” every half hour or so.
The Dolphins gave the Warriors and the crowd plenty to cheer about as the went on to beat the last place Jets by the score of 27-23.
CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE PHOTOS FROM THE MIAMI EXPERIENCE!
Operation warrior wishes would like to extend a huge thank you to the Miami Dolphins for donating 11 tickets, 6 Field Passes and for providing all 9 warriors with a once in a lifetime experience holding the flag on the field during the National Anthem. We also want to Thank “Major Offense ” (Eric Carrier) and Dolphins Coach Matt Burke for also donating tickets for this amazing group of warriors! Last but not least, we can’t forget our friends at the Phin-addicts tailgate for the hospitality, New Era for providing Dolphins caps to the Warriors & our friends at the Chive for the shirts!
TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!
After the game my dad headed straight to the airport. If you thought his travel schedule was crazy before, check this out, he was about to take the longest possible flight in the Continental US – from Miami to Seattle! Stay tuned for more details!
MEET THE WARRIORS
MARINE MICHAEL ALLISON
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 CAPT. JOSH McCLIMANS
1SG GARY E. WATFORD JR.
First Sergeant Watford is from Florence, South Carolina. He entered the Army in September 1997 and completed One Station Unit Training with A CO, 787th Military Police Battalion at Fort McClellan, Alabama.
First Sergeant Watford’s assignments include the 401st MP Company, Fort Hood, Texas; 188th MP Company, Taegu, South Korea; LEA MP Company, Fort McPherson, Georgia; 230th MP Company, Kaiserslautern, Germany; 17th MP Detachment, Fort Jackson, South Carolina; 92d MP Company, Baumholder, Germany, HHC, 14th Military Police Brigade with duty at Directorate of Training & Education, United States Army Military Police School, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and 546th MP Company, Fort Stewart, Georgia. His deployments include Camp Dobol, Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of SFOR and KFOR Operations, Baghdad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 04-05, Kabul, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 06-7, and Gardez/Chamkani, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 09-10.
First Sergeant Watford has served as a Military Police Soldier, Team Leader, Desk Sergeant, Assistant Squad Leader, Squad Leader, Traffic Accident Investigations NCOIC, Company Operations Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, and Writer/Instructor. He currently serves as the First Sergeant, 546th MP Company, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
First Sergeant Watford has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from UMUC, and a Master’s Degree in Business and Organizational Security Management from Webster University. His military education includes the Basic Leader Course, Advance Leader Course, Senior Leader Course, Company Commander/First Sergeant Course, Combat Lifesaver Course, Equal Opportunity Leaders Course, Combatives Level I Training, NBC Defense Course, Conventional Physical Security/Crime Prevention Course, Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor Train the Trainer Course, Army Basic Instructor Course, and Systems Approach to Training Course.
First Sergeant Watford’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (Second Award), Meritorious Service Medal (Third Award); Army Commendation Medal (Fourth Award); Joint Service Achievement Medal; Army Achievement Medal (Fourth Award); Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Valorous Unit Award; Meritorious Unit Citation; Army Good Conduct Medal (Fifth Award); National Defense Service Medal with Service Star; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Kosovo Campaign Medal with One Campaign Star; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Three Campaign Stars; Iraqi Campaign Medal with One Campaign Star; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Korean Defense Service Medal; NCO Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 3; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral 5; NATO Medal (Second Award); Combat Action Badge; Driver Badge.
First Sergeant Watford has received special recognition by earning induction into the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, and as a recipient of the Military Police Corps Regiment’s Order of the Marechausee in bronze and the Military Police Corps Regiment Commandant’s 100.
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.
ARMY SGT DUANE PEREIRA
Born 16 Dec 1987. He Enlisted in the US Army in 2006 and separated in 2011. MOS 25B/F Attached to an Air Defence Battery. Served 2 overseas rotations out of Camp Carroll, Korea. Engaged to his Fiancee Kacie, with their wedding set to take place next October. Duane has Been a Dolphins Fan his entire life. He works for the local sheriff’s office in IT and enjoys going on cruises with his fiancee.
ARMY SSG MIKE WILLIAMS
I was born 31 Mar 1975 in Budigen, Germany; my mother is German and my father was an American Soldier. I grew up traveling between Europe and the United States; my father retired at Ft.Rucker, AL in the early ’90s. I then signed up on the delaid entry program in Oct ’94, and finally shipped out to Ft. McClellan, AL. After completing my one station training I was assigned to the 57th Military Police Company at Camp Carroll, South Korea from ’95-’96; I then went to Ft.Bliss, TX to the 978th and Center Military Police Companies from ’96-’99, I also deployed to Saudi Arabia with a small group from 978th MP Company. I then was assigned to the 230th MP Co in Kiaserslauretn, Germany from ’99-’06 while assigned there the unit was award the J.P. Holland award for best Military Police Company in the US Army twice. I was deployed to Kosovo with the 239th in ’02, and to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom from Mar ’04-’05; I was awarded the Army Comendation Medal with Valor for one of the engagements I was in. I was then reassigned to the 17th Military Police Detachment at Ft.Jackson, SC from ’06-’08. From there I was sent back to Germany, to the 92nd MP Co in Baumholder, Germany from ’08-’10, while there I deployed to Afghanista from ’09-’10. After this tour Inwas sent to West Point, NY to serve with the Honor Guard Military Police Company at the United States Military Academy at West Point, served this unit from ’10-’14. I was then assigned back to Korea, back to Camp Carroll, but this time I would belong to 1st Platoon “Highlander’s”, 188th MP Co. from Aug ’14-’15. I then went on to Ft.Stewart, GA; home of the 3rd Infantry Division, and assigned to the 385th Military Police Battalion, 293rd MP Co. ’15-Oct’16, and I am currently assigned to the 197th Military Police Detachment here at Ft.Stewart, Ga where I plan to retire at.
AIR FORCE WARRIOR TIMOTHY BEAVER
My husband is not only my best friend, but he’s also my hero. Timothy Beaver was a Senior Airman, United States Air Force Special Ops. He injured his back repairing heavy equipment on his C-130 Gunship. He was in the Air Force from 1994-1998 and went on to have a successful career at AT&T. In 2008 is when he noticed numbness and tingling in his legs and feet. Upon going to the doctor, Tim found out that he had worsening herniated and bulging discs in his back which has caused the cartilage to push down on his nerves going down his legs. Tim has Axonal Neuropathy from his knees down to his feet. The pain Tim went through during this time period caused him to be immobile, he developed 4 blood clots, 2 in each leg. Due to these injuries, he was forced to resign from his job and became very depressed. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to provide for myself and our daughter, Allissa, like he always had. I’m a special needs teacher and have taken on the role of providing the income for our family. Tim has also had 2 mini-strokes and there was a time where doctors told me that my husband would never walk again, however Tim fought these last few years and is able to walk small distances. As the wife of a disabled veteran, I want my husband to know how honored I am to be his wife, how proud I am of him for serving our country and that he is my biggest hero. Something that recently has brought his spirits up is that we have just become Grandparent’s to a beautiful little girl named Sofia! She has her Papa and Gigi wrapped around her little finger. He loves to fish as well is a huge Miami Dolphins fans and we used to go to games all the time, but ever since Tim became injured, it’s been difficult to attend a game. Go Dolphins!
Don’t forget to nominate your hero for an upcoming game on our 2016 “All32in17” Mission!
Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”
Contact Craig for more information about the mission (630) 339-6714