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Honoring The Legacy Of Army SGT Mike Knapp At The Cactus Bowl!

Army SGT Michael J Knapp made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country on May 18th 2012.  It was a true honor to host his wife and other surviving family members at the Cactus Bowl in his honor.

ARMY SGT MICHAEL J KNAPP

Sgt Michael J Knapp was an amazing father, husband and son who loved his family and God. He was always a great leader and teacher to all of his fellow soldiers. Michael and his wife Abby were married in October 2008 and moved to Ft Lewis, WA in March 2010 after he joined Active Duty Army. They had their daughter Kinsley Payton August 1, 2011 – she was 9 weeks early weighing in at 3lbs 6oz – their miracle baby. Mike could not wait to be a father and loved Miss Kinsley so much. He deployed to Asadabad, Afghanistan November 14, 2011 with the 17th Fires Brigade. While deployed Mike watched his daughter grow up on Skype until May 18, 2012 he was killed in action. He died of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with a rocket. Michael is a man of God who will be missed dearly. We are keeping peace in knowing that he is with our Lord and Savior today.

It was an honor to host his family at the Cactus Bowl in his honor.  We are forever grateful for his service and sacrifice.  He will never be forgotten!

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Game 21 – Titans LB Avery Williamson Makes Warrior Wishes Come True!

 

It’s been another wild week of making Warrior Wishes come true.  It all started last Thursday when my dad hosted heroes in Green Bay. Sunday he was making Wishes come true in Kansas City & Monday he made more come true in Denver!

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I dropped my dad off at the airport Wednesday morning while we were on our way to host a WWII Marine at game 2 of the World Series!

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My dad arrived in Nashville Wednesday evening and spent the night at the airport before heading out to meet up with the Warriors. 

We have made some unforgettable memories making warrior wishes come true at Titans games over the past 4 seasons.

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This weekend’s Warrior Wishes Experience has been a few weeks in the making, with some incredible partners.  This past September, we got a call from LaCorte Enterprises about a project with Titans LB Avery Williamson. He had a pair of custom cleats created to honor 9/11 First Responders that he wanted to wear and then auction off.  He chose Operation Warrior Wishes to donate the proceeds of the auction! (Thanks Theresa). 

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As the project developed, there was talk that the NFL was not going to allow him to wear them and if he did , he would be fined. The story garnered a lot of media attention, even getting on TMZ a couple times, especially when Port Authority New York Police Union offered to pay his fine. Well, as it turned out, NFL backed down and let him wear the cleats! The auction raised $6,600 of which half was donated to our mission.

The years Titans experience started at 1pm when my dad met up with Army SGT Ben McCarty & his wife at “The Escape Game.”   The Escape is a very fun experience for groups of 4 to 8 people who get locked in a room and have to find clues in order for them to “escape.”  The Escape Game in Nashville has been helping make Warrior Wishes come true since 2013!

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Sgt McCarty’s wife surprised him when she told him he was going to be out guest for the Titans game later  in the evening. He originally thought he was there to meet family. Clearly, he was not to sure what was going on, as the look on his face was priceless.  Once he learned why he was REALLY there, he relaxed and we had a great time trying to escape.

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Gerst Haus hosted the warriors for a delicious German meal before the game.  SGT McCarty, his wife & my dad met up with the Gold Star Mom of Army Spc Jason Edens, Janet Crane and her husband Mike (also served in the Army for 9 years).  They got to know a little bit about each other over dinner before making their way over to the stadium to tailgate with our new friends at Cooper Steel.  

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Gary Cooper, president of Cooper Steel was the winning bidder for the 9-11 cleats.   He and his entire tailgate crew welcomed the warriors and Avery Williamson’s family to the tailgate with open arms & a big sign!    

My dad had the opportunity to introduce the warriors to everyone at the tailgate.  He made sure to thank mr. Cooper & the Williamson family for their generous donation and the opportunity to host the Warriors at today’s game!  He also broke into tears as he took a moment of silence to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice made by SPC Edens.  

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Needless to say everyone was stuffed after eating dinner and then tailgating, So they all walked off some calories and headed into the stadium.

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The Titans gave the Warriors a lot to cheer about as they jumped out to a 24-0 lead early and never looked back.  They crushed the Jaguars 36-22.

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After the game we met back up with Gary & Mr and Mrs Williamson so we could meet Avery and he could present the 9/11 cleats to Gary.  Avery was awesome!  He took plenty of time meeting and hanging out with the warriors. It was an unforgettable experience!!!  

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SEE ALL THE PHOTOS FROM THIS EXPERIENCE HERE!

Operation Warrior Wishes would like to thank Theresa for recommending us to Avery, Melissa for running the project, Avery for the idea to design them and Gary for bidding.  We also want to Thank Gerst Haus for providing the delicious PreGame meal, New Era for providing the Titans Caps, as well as Tom at Jack Daniels and Megan at Cooper Steel for the awesome tailgates.

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE!

Most importantly THANK YOU to Army Sgt Ben McCarty, Army Sgt Mike Crane & Gold Star Mom of Fallen Hero Army Spc Jason Edens.  Their service and sacrifices have not gone unnoticed, they are forever appreciated & will never be forgotten!  

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”

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www.WarriorWishes.org

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

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The Washington Nationals Make Warrior Wishes Come True!

After making Warrior Wishes Come True at the Mets game, my dad took his 4th overnight bus in the past 5 days.  He arrived in Washington DC early Saturday morning to make Warrior Wishes come true for the 7th straight day.  This past week, he has hosted heroes in Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh, New York (Yankees), Boston, New York (Mets) & over the next 2 days he will be honoring Gold Star families and keeping their loved ones legacies alive thanks to the Nationals.   

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When we created our Battlefields to Ballfields schedule, we planned to be in DC the final weekend in May because it’s  Memorial Day Weekend, which is obviously a very special & emotional weekend for many of our nation’s heroes and their families – especially in DC.

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As soon as my dad got in town, he made 2 special stops that have become tradition each year for us during our DC visit. The first stop was Walter Reed Hospital.  My dad was able to see a few old friends and meet a few new ones. Thanks to Josh for getting my dad in for the visit.

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The second stop – Arlington National Cemetery.  Arlington is one of the most powerful places we have ever been, especially during Memorial Day weekend.  The cemetery was established during the Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House.  Over 400,000 people have been laid to rest at Arlington & its home to the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”.  The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days per year (see some interesting facts here).  Over 4 million people from around the world visit the national cemetary every year, especially during memorial day weekend.  As a tribute, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, nicknamed “The Old Guard,” placed American flags in front of the more than 230,000 Soldiers laid to rest in Arlington.  Its a place that every American should see. Needless to say, it was extremely crowded and my dad did not get to visit as many heroes as he had planned. He said “It was very special and emotional being there on Memorial Day.”

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Today, we had the honor of hosting the Gold Star Family of Army SPC Christopher Horton.  SPC Horton made the ultimate sacrifice just 3 months into his first deployment on September 9th, 2011 while serving in Afghanistan (see his Bio below). His widow Jane and his parents, David and Sherie, were our special guests for the day.

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My dad met up with the Horton family for dinner at the Gordon Biersch Restaurant near Nationals Park.  Located in Southeast Washington, south of the Capitol, along the fast-developing Capitol Riverfront and only one block from Nationals Park, Gordon Biersch is the place to be in the Navy Yard neighborhood. The restaurant provided an inviting space to get to know the Horton Family, learn about Chris & their efforts to better the Gold Star Community.

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Jane and her in-laws had a busy afternoon, as she does a lot of work to improve benefits , and the lives, of families that lose loved ones to war.  In fact, she did a Fox TV interview right before they arrived today. It was a pleasure getting to know her, her family & more about Christopher.  She was also joined by one of her friends who works for a charity here in DC .  They educated my dad a little about how DC works, and the efforts they make to enrich the lives of fallen heroes families.

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 After dinner and giving the family their new Nationals New Era Caps, everyone headed over to Nationals Park for the game. My Dad as he always does, snapped a few photos outside the stadium before making their way inside to incredible seats thanks to the Nationals!  Despite 2 Homers by Zimmerman and a 428 foot home run blast by Bryce Harper, the Nationals lost to the Cardinals 9-4.  Win or lose, everyone had a great time & enjoyed keeping the legacy of Army SPC Christopher Horton alive.  

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We want to thank Dave at Gordon Biersch Restaurants for the delicious PreGame meal, New Era for the Nationals Caps, and the Washington Nationals for helping us Make Warrior Wishes come true by providing an awesome Experience at the game!

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TOGETHER WE MAKE WARRIOR WISHES COME TRUE! 

Thank you to Jane Horton for giving us the opportunity to share your husbands legacy & for all the work you do to improve the lives of Gold Star Families. And of course – and especially on this Memorial Day weekend – THANK YOU to all of those fallen heroes for their ultimate sacrifice and to their families for keeping their legacies alive.  My dad will be back in action again tomorrow hosting another family at the Nationals game.  Stay tuned for more details.  

Facebook “Operation Warrior Wishes”

Twitter “@WarriorWishes”

Instagram “@WarriorWishes

www.WarriorWishes.org

Dont forget to nominate your hero for an upcoming game on our Battlefields to Ballfields mission!

Click here for more information.

2016 BATTLEFIELDS TO BALLFIELDS SCHEDULE

ARMY SPC CHRISTOPHER DAVID HORTON

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Specialist Christopher D. Horton died in Paktia, Afghanistan on September 9, 2011, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked using small arms fire. He was 26 years old. Specialist Horton was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 279 Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and Oklahoma National Guard, based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Specialist Horton graduated from the Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, Missouri. He enlisted in the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 2008. While serving his time with the Oklahoma National Guard, he became an infantryman, received his SWAT certification, and became sniper qualified. His extensive marksman awards included: The Gus Hadwiger Award in 2009, 1st place Novice Pistol in the Oklahoma National Guard Sergeant Major’s match in 2009, 1st place novice pistol in the Governor’s Twenty Matches in 2009, 2nd place in the Old Fort Shootout in the Unclassified Production Division in 2009, 2nd place Pistol in The State of Oklahoma Governor’s Twenty 2009, Oklahoma State International Defensive Pistol Association’s Champion High Military in both 2008 and 2009, 3rd place in the Carolina Cup Enhanced Service Pistol Sharpshooter in 2008 as well as many others. Specialist Horton was also a professional sponsored shooter through the United States shooting Academy in Owasso, Oklahoma.

In his spare time, he worked on numerous political campaigns including President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, Governor Romney’s 2008 Presidential primary. Specialist Horton enjoyed fishing and playing basketball. He leaves behind his wife, Jane Horton, who he met at King’s College in New York City. Specialist Horton also leaves behind a brother, Nicholas, and a sister, Tenley. He was the son of Reverend David and Cherie Bonnema Horton of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

SOURCE:http://www.travismanion.org/hero/spc-christopher-d-horton/

SPC Horton’s Act of Heroism

My name is Jane Horton and I am the wife of SPC Christopher Horton, and Army sniper killed in action on September 9, 2011. Christopher put his career on hold as a professional sponsored shooter, business owner, and political consultant to serve his country, and unfortunately he didn’t come home. Chris could have done anything he wanted to do, but he chose one of the most dangerous jobs in the military, and one of the most wanted targets, and was killed because he was hunted for carrying a sniper rife. Christopher loved his country more than anything, and truly believed in the values that America was founded on. He didn’t want to do anything else until he served his country. He felt an honor and duty to protect us on the home front, and join the ranks of the many American patriots that fight for our freedom. Freedom isn’t free, and it was bought with Christopher’s blood.

My Hero

Chris answered the call to serve his country and was willing to lay down his life. He was truly a fearless patriot, and a valiant warrior. Chris was well known for loving his country and for his incredible shooting skills. He was offered jobs by many government agencies, and told them they could call him back when he was home from Afghanistan, but unfortunately he never came home. As an American Army sniper, he knew that he would be in serious danger, but it honestly never phased him nor did it distract him from his call to duty, and it ultimately cost him his life.

Source: http://www.heroportraits.org/Gallery/default.aspx?id=416

 

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Honoring The Legacy of SFC Bryan Hall In San Francisco

On the morning of April 10, 2009 a convoy of military vehicles left their safety of FOB Merez to conduct a mission in the town of Mosul, Iraq. What was supposed to be a routine mission turned deadly. An oncoming suicide bomber was loaded with explosives and detonated near the last military vehicle in the convoy, killing all five soldiers.

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The five killed were SFC Bryan E. Hall, SGT Edward W. Forrest Jr., SSG Gary L. Woods, CPL Jason Pautsch, PFC Bryce E. Gautier. SFC Hall was attached to 1ST Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team,  4th Infantry Division.  This marked the most catastrophic single loss to the 2nd Brigade in 2009.

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SFC Hall was a 14 year Veteran of the US Army and he was on his first deployment during the war. SFC Hall had many awards and commendations, some of which included  Purple Heart, Bronze Star, 3 Army Commendation Medal, 8 Army Achievement Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Air Assault Badge and that of US Army Ranger.

Bryan was married to Rachel and they have one daughter, Addison. His parents are John and Betty Hall and sister, Kristi Lynne-Hall Donelli. The loss of Bryan was devastating to his family, friends and the community as a whole. Bryan was a great man who stood for honor and freedom for our country. He is missed everyday and his spirit lives on through his daughter Addison.

“While Bryan’s life was short, he had known a life that most men long for – faith, shared the love of woman he adored, he knew the joys of fatherhood, he was doing a job he loved, and he had hunted and fished all over the United States. His life had been full.  He was an amazing man!” ~Betty Hall (Mom)

After 2 straight days of Making Warrior Wishes come true at the Raiders & 49ers games, My dad made his way over to AT&T Park to honor the legacy of SFC Bryan E. Hall & host surviving family members at the Giants game in his honor thanks to our friends at Virgin America.  

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My dad will be flying back to Chicago tomorrow morning to catch an overnight bus to Kansas City to make Warrior Wishes Come True at the Chiefs game Thursday night for the 3rd game of our “All32in17” mission.

SAVE THE DATE! 

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APRIL 9th, 2016

Join the Hall family at their  7th annual “Walk to Remember SFC Bryan E Hall.”   All proceeds from the walk will be split between the Bryan E. Hall Memorial Scholarship and an education fund established for SFC Hall’s seven-year old daughter, Addison.  The goal is to get 1000 participants, register to walk here!

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Making Warrior Wishes Come True at the Chicago Bulls Game!

After an amazing day full of memories and making warrior wishes come true at the Blackhawks game, it was back to the United Center to make Warrior Wishes come true at the Bulls game!  My dad should have spent the night and watched them transform the stadium from a hockey rink to a basketball court.

Operation Warrior Wishes was honored to share the legacy of Army PFC Omar E. Torres and host his sister, Oralia & her husband in his honor at the Bulls game!

Omar grew up on the Southwest Side of Chicago.  He had a passion for sports.   Omar played basketball, baseball, and football.  He attended De La Salle Institute where he joined the wrestling team, played football as well as enjoyed the chess team.

Torres graduated in 2005 and went off to The Ohio State University on a Scholarship.  Before finishing his freshman year, Omar decided that he wanted to do better for his country and made the decision to join the Army.

Torres attended basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia where he earned high honors for marksmanship and leadership skills.  He returned to Ohio State for his sophomore year but was called upon for active duty in March of 2007 & deployed to Iraq.

On August 22, 2007, Omar and his unit were conducting a sweep of the area when he stepped on an IED and died instantly.  He was 20 years old.

Operation Warrior Wishes is proud to be hosting surviving family members at the Chicago Bulls game  in Omar’s honor.  Gone but never forgotten!

Learn more about Our “Battlefields to Ballfields” Mission, Nominate Your Hero, and Get Involved at warriors.thriveground.com