Remember the Fallen


Our Nation owes a great debt to its fallen heroes. A debt that we can never repay. Today, I hope you take a moment to honor the fallen and remember the more than 80,000 that are still MIA (Missing in Action) and remember the families that were left behind, the families who never had a chance to say good-bye.

“Whether we observe [Memorial Day]  through public ceremony or through private prayer, this day leaves few hearts unmoved. Each of the patriots whom we remember on this day, [both known and unknown], was first a beloved son or daughter, a brother or sister, or a spouse, friend, and neighbor.” – George H W Bush, 1992

Let us never forget they gave their tomorrows for our todays. One way we can honor them today is to commit to step in their honor and wear blue to remember. Today, I have committed to walk/run 5 miles in honor of CPL Chris Ebert, who died in the Anbar Province of Iraq on September 17, 2004.

 

 

“We owe them more than can ever be repaid, but we must try. Tomorrow and all the days that follow, let us keep their sacrifice in our hearts as we strive to honor them by being good and true, hopeful and strong, and committing to  building a brighter future.” – Marc Molinaro, US House of Representatives, Duchess County, NY on Memorial Day 2019.

Remember. Honor.

Lisa Marie Barrett, Director

 

Time to Treat The Troops…

With another very successful Operation Christmas Cheer for our deployed troops behind us (more than 40 boxes of goodies, letters from children, prayer filled boxes and over 30lbs of hand warmers were sent) it’s time to move into 2024 and send Treats to the Troops.

Our troops  have answered the call to serve and in answering that call, they have left everything behind; their families, their communities, and their loved ones who are also paying the price for their sacrifice.

We will be taking up individually packaged cookie donations throughout February. Since many of these care package will be sent to very warm climates, please choose single serving packages of cookies that do not contain chocolate that will melt. Oreos, peanut-butter cookies, VanOLunch from Lance, lemon cookies, butter cookies and animal cookies are great sendables that won’t melt.

A simple act of kindness, sending cookies, will equip them with the hope that they are not forgotten and will hopefully bring light to their world.

If you would like to make a financial donation and have us purchase cookies for you or you would like to help cover the cost of postage, click here. Please be sure to enter military ministry in the memo field.

photo taken from internet search 02/11/2024 from Sandboxx

 

 

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to those who wear our country’s uniform! We are praying for His hedge of protection as you serve and wish you and your families His peace this Christmas season and always.  You are NOT forgotten!

Deployed Troops Christmas Cheer 2023

It seems like only yesterday I was posting about sending Christmas Cheer For Our Deployed Troops 2022, then I blinked and here it is 2023! Where does the time go?

Another year  gone by and another year I stand in awe over His provisions, prompting hearts to give back; people giving of their time, their talents, and their resources to support Christmas Cheer For Our Deployed Troops.

It is important that we continue to cultivate an awareness of the magnitude of sacrifice those who wear our country’s uniform make each day, especially those who are deployed. They miss birthdays, holidays, reunions, graduations, the birth of their own children, weddings, funerals, comforts of home, sleep, showers, food, clean clothes, their sacrifices are endless, yet they continue to give of themselves so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today. We owe them much more than what we often give.

I am so proud to live in such a wonderful community that understands their sacrifices and that gives generously throughout the year, but especially at Christmas! Thank you to Sunshine Elementary School, the Bostic/Sunshine Community, my Father’s Vineyard Church family, my friends, and my family. Christmas Cheer 2023 would not be possible without your giving, caring hearts! Because of you, we are sending a total of 25 boxes of Christmas Cheer to troops across the globe on Monday and an additional 3-5 boxes later in the week!

Your gratitude and your willingness to give is the simplest yet most powerful thing you can do for our troops . Your kindness will impact their lives in many ways and let them know they are not forgotten and their sacrifices matter.

Thank you again for your willingness to touch the lives of another with the resources God has so generously given to you. – Lisa Marie Barrett, Director

photo taken from https://hopeinc.com/gratitude-turns-what-we-have-into-enough/ 11/26/23
Just a small portion of the donations from Sunshine Elementary School, Bostic, NC

Christmas Cheer Boxes before being packed

If you would like to support Christmas Cheer For Our Deployed Troops, please click here. Each package sent costs approximately $22 for shipping. Be sure to click yes, that your gift is designated, then add military ministry to the designation box. If you would like your donation to go directly to Christmas Cheer For Our Deployed Troops, please indicate that as well. If you just state military ministry, your gift can be used throughout the year for on going deployed troops projects. Donations are tax deductible.

 

The Wall That Heals 2023

Throughout the course of American history courageous men and women have taken up  arms to secure and defend the very freedoms we often take for granted.

“Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude” – Harry S Truman.

This Veterans Day and always, let us never become so consumed by our own lives that we fail to stop for just a moment to recognize our veterans; to pause and say THANK YOU for your service.

I had the privilege and honor to volunteer at The Wall That Heals (The Vietnam Traveling Wall) this week; helping families and friends locate their loved ones on The Wall. I hugged them, cried with them and listened to their stories. The three gentlemen pictured below captured my heart. When I plugged the name of their loved one into my phone to see where his name was located, his photo was displayed; voices became trembly and tears welled at the sight. Seeing their loved one’s photo was very emotional for all. Even though I had never met these gentleman before, nor did I know their loved one, I was not exempt from the emotions, especially when they touched the wall for the first time.  It was very humbling to be a part of reuniting this band of brothers with their loved one through The Wall That Heals.

I was so moved by my experience that when my shift ended, I couldn’t leave. I longed to help more visitors locate their loved ones on the wall. The brave men and women who died and are still missing while serving our country during The Vietnam War  are not just names on a wall, they were human beings with families and lives back home. They mattered and still do! I stand in awe over the  incredible task VVMF (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund) completed by putting a face to each and every name on the wall.

I was honored to meet Cindy Stonebraker Reed, daughter of Lt Col Kenneth Arnold Stonebraker whose plane went down 55 years ago. Kenneth has a cross next to his name because he is still MIA. Cindy is the founding director of Mission POW-MIA and will be the guest speaker at today’s 11:00 a.m. ceremony.  My prayers are with Cindy and the other 1,500+ families whose loved ones are still MIA.

I cannot put into words my volunteer experience with The Wall That Heals this week, but I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to give back to so many families by being part of this incredible opportunity to reunite them with their loved ones.

The Wall will continue to be on display at the Spartanburg Regional Airport located at 151 Airflow Drive, Spartanburg until 2:00 p.m., Sunday, November 12th. I encourage you to go!

Part of the mobile educational unit. These boots were left by a Marine at the Vietnam Wall in D.C.
Part of mobile educational unit
Left by Cindy Stonebraker Reed in memory and honor of her father, MIA Oct 28, 1968
Prosthetic leg  left at the Vietnam Wall in DC, dedicated to US Army sniper and Vietnam Veteran, Walter Scott Luce left by brother Kirk on May 30, 2000 (part of mobile educational until display).

 

Vietnam veterans at 11/11/23 ceremony honoring them.

 

 

 

2023 Blue Ridge Honor Flights

April 29th, 2023 and October 14th, 2023, Blue Ridge Honor Flight embarked upon two new journeys flying our nation’s heroes to see their memorials.

Aboard the April flight to D.C. were 2 Korean War veterans, 89 Vietnam veterans and 5 Gold Star families.  April’s flight was the first time in the 18 year history of Honor Flight that a WWII veteran was not aboard.  A total of 16.1 million Americans served in the Armed Forces during WWII. The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, LA, reported in September 2023 that only 119,500 WWII veterans were still living. They are dying at rate of 131 veterans per day.

The manifest for October’s flight was to include 2 WWII veterans, however one was not able to make the flight due to health concerns. Also aboard the October flight were 4 Korean War veterans, 85 Vietnam veterans and 5 Gold Star families. Julia Coffey, widow of USAF Captain Frederick M. Hall was one of the Gold Star family members aboard October’s flight. Captain Hall’s plane went down during the Vietnam War. After a long 54 years, Captain Hall’s remains were finally recovered a few months ago and flown into Spartanburg, SC . His body was laid to rest in Haywood county the week before our October 14th flight took to the skies. Lucy Steppe, also a Gold Star family member, was also aboard. Her father Captain John C. Kozuch’s plane went down 51 years ago during Vietnam. His remains have still not been found, but Lucy has a renewed hope knowing that Captain Hall’s remains were finally recovered.

Also aboard the October flight was Maurice Kalonaheskie. Maurice was an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a Tribal Elder and US Army Vietnam veteran.  I met Maurice and his wife Pat in the lobby at our hotel the night before our flight. It was truly a privilege and honor to get to know him. I only wished I had more time getting to know him. Maurice was not one of the veterans on my team, but I would see him throughout the day and stop to say hello, then take his photo and text it to Pat back at the hotel. Pat shared with me that Maurice was MIA for 6 weeks during Vietnam.  She also shared that Maurice made peace while at The Wall. She said Maurice had been looking forward to the trip for a long time and was glad he finally got to go. My heart was truly saddened when Pat called to tell me Maurice had passed away shortly after returning back home. Maurice, you have left an indelible mark upon my heart. I will always remember you! Pat, I think of you and pray for you often.

Also aboard both flights were the veteran’s guardians, EMT’s, medical staff, and Honor Flight board members.

The next scheduled Honor Flight is tentatively set for Saturday, April 27th, 2024. If you are a veteran or Gold Star family member, I encourage you to send in your application to come fly with us. It would be an honor to have you aboard!  If you have a deep love for our veterans and would like to give back and show them how much you appreciate them, I encourage you to apply as a guardian. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities with Blue Ridge Honor Flight, please apply as a volunteer.

A sincere thank you to my veterans Bill Keck (April flight), Wayne Camp, and Jerry Smith (October flight) for allowing me the privilege to be your guardian and a very special THANK YOU to the Marine Corps League Cpl. Chris S. Ebert Detachment #1221, Father’s Vineyard Church, and all the behind the scenes people who generously donated to make it possible for me to fly these veterans to DC in 2023.

US Navy Vietnam Veteran and Father’s Vineyard member Bill Keck, April 29th, 2023 flight
Bill Keck at The Wall doing a rubbing of fallen comrade, George Talken.
Welcome committee outside the WWII Memorial, Oct 14, 2023. My veterans (center) US Army Vietnam veterans and Bronze Star recipients Wayne Camp of Green Hill (center left) and Jerry Smith of Bostic.
Wayne all smiles as we take off from Asheville Regional Airport 10/14/23
USAF Veteran (Right), Barry Hill of Bostic serving as Guardian to veteran Gene Lanier of Spruce Pine.
Wayne Camp returning from flight. Our chartered Allegiant plane in the background.
Rutherford County Crew, October 14th, 2023 at BWI
US Army Vietnam veteran, Maurice Kalonaheskie, Cherokee, NC 10/14/23. Forever in my heart!
Wreath at special ceremony honoring our veterans at the bottom of Lincoln Memorial. Honor Flight veterans in the background 10/14/23

They’re Still There

While many of us celebrated our freedoms this past Fourth of July, our troops were busy defending the very freedoms we often take for granted! It was a blessing and honor to spend this past fourth of July weekend with one of my dearest friends and fellow church members, Donna D packing various treats and goodies as well as my first special request for Tajin to send to our deployed troops. Tajin is a Hispanic spice with the perfect blend of salty, spicy, and tangy flavors. “It makes the food tastes better,” stated my new friend and contact, Veronica.

I stand amazed at the fingerprints of God with every new request, but this request pulled on my heartstrings and touched my heart in ways I never expected. Without a doubt the reason this Army wife and mother of three reached out to the Military Ministry, wasn’t just about sending Packages of Hope to our deployed troops, it was evident God used this particular deployment to orchestrate a special relationship between this family, these troops, and our church to stand in the gap and pray expectantly for a miracle.

Thank you to everyone who donated to this project and thank you to everyone who has and are continuing to  pray for this family and these troops.

Just a portion of the outpouring love that went into this project.

As we continue to go about our daily lives, let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people (Galatians 6:9-10) and let us not become so preoccupied with our own problems that we forget we live among giants, our brave warriors fighting for our freedoms. They’re still there.

May we always strive to be kind, extend grace, patience, and mercy to all those we meet because everyone we meet is fighting a battle we know nothing about.

With heartfelt gratitude for your continued support of this ministry and standing in the gap to pray for this family and our troops,

Lisa Marie Barrett, Director

A Special thank you to Sunshine Elementary for the colored heart artwork
Some like it hot

From Christmas Cheer to Springtime Goodies

Sunshine Elementary School’s love and support for our military reaches deployed troops across the globe; from undisclosed locations in Asia and the Middle East to Germany.

It is quite evident that the students, staff, and Bostic community love our troops! Over the past couple of years, they have made it a priority during Veteran’s Week (Week of Veteran’s Day) to take up donations for our deployed troops. Their love and support afforded us the opportunity to send dozens of care packages: Packages of Hope, to our deployed troops.

This past Christmas we were able to send over 20 Packages of Hope followed by over a dozen recent springtime packages. In fact, the drive was so great, we still have enough non perishable items to send 5-7 additional boxes which will be sent later this spring.

These packages were filled with goodies from Christmas cheer (games, candy, artwork from the students, Carmex, cookies, nuts, protein bars, personal hygiene items, cards and letters of encouragement) to springtime goodies, Girl Scout Cookies donated by Caldwell Construction. These packages mean so much to our troops. They bring hope and remind them they are not forgotten, they are not alone.

In addition to the items collected, enough cash donations were gathered to cover the cost of shipping for five  boxes. In addition to the support from Veteran’s Week, support from our church  covered the remaining cost of shipping, supplied branch specific military bibles and some much needed hand and feet warmers for our troops deployed to Germany.

Packages of Hope is an ongoing ministry at Father’s Vineyard. You can support this ministry by giving online (be sure to say YES to designation and designate for the military ministry). All donations go directly into the military ministry fund to support our troops.

If you know anyone currently serving, whether they are deployed, stateside, or training, please let us know. It would be an honor to send them a letter of encouragement or a Package of Hope,  so please reach out to us!

Come back in May to see updates for the upcoming historic Blue Ridge Honor Flight due to take off April 29th.

A heartfelt THANK YOU to Sunshine Elementary School and to all the behind the scenes people who wish to remain anonymous that made it possible to send these Packages of Hope.

Lisa Marie Barrett, Director

 

Local Army Reservist, Elizabeth McArthur deployed to undisclosed location

 

 

Honoring Our Veterans – Honor Flight Oct 1, 2022

Blue Ridge Honor Flight Bus in front of the WWII Memorial 10/01/22 (contributed photo from BRHF)

After Hurricane Ian pummeled the Florida coast then headed towards the Carolinas, I couldn’t help but be concerned.  Would our flight be grounded? It didn’t look promising and my faith began to waiver slightly so I reached out to my friends and prayer warriors. I prayed! They prayed! God answered!

The Blue Ridge Honor Flight Team always has their veteran’s safety at the forefront of all they do, so their decision to fly was not taken lightly.  After carefully assessing the situation and many prayers, the team deemed Honor Flight 10/1 safe to fly.

I reached out to my veterans to let them know our flight was still a go and that I would pick them up at 1400 hours. It rained, but not as the forecast had predicted, so in spite of the fact I became so engrossed in their conversations and missed our turn, the trek to Asheville was pleasant. Although I missed our turn and ended up on the forbidden I-26,  God was merciful….. No traffic! His hand and provisions were all over this memorable journey with my veterans.

Thanks to an unexpected generous donation, I was able to put my veterans up in a hotel room the night before the flight. It was an incredible blessing because that meant we wouldn’t have to get up at 0300 hours to drive to the airport Saturday morning.

Another unexpected blessing came from one of my colleagues, affording me the opportunity to take my veterans to a dinner of their choosing. They chose Longhorn Steak House. It was delicious! I enjoyed listening to my veterans, Jimmy Johnson and Jim Huffstickler recount their stories during Vietnam. I felt privileged as I listened to them recount many stories. They quickly became like family and I felt like I had known them my entire life.

After dinner, God did something amazing; through the clouds and rain He sent a rainbow! I know that was Him saying, “I got this!” His beautiful promise, the rainbow, was affirmation this trip was going to be amazing and amazing it was!

Our promise from God. Rainbow outside Longhorn 09/30/22.

Thank you to everyone who supported me on this trip! I could not have been their Guardian without the love, support and prayers of my church family and friends! Being their Guardian was an absolute privilege and honor! I also want to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who gave of their time to write each of these veterans!

As Veteran’s Day 2022 quickly approaches, please consider ways you can bring honor to those who’ve serve and who are currently serving. Be observant! Seek them out! Thank them! Buy them a meal! Pay for their groceries! Shake their hand! We owe so much to each of them for their sacrifices, their bravery, their love for country and fellow man. Our veterans are our national treasures!

Thank YOU veterans for YOUR SERVICE! If you have served in WWII, Korea, or Vietnam, please consider going on a flight with us. Blue Ridge Honor Flight wants to honor you, fly you to Washington D.C., to visit your memorials then bring you home for the long overdue WELCOME HOME you deserved!  Please contact me for more information or click here for an application. There is NO COST for you to fly. Honor Flight trips are a way we give back to you!

If you’re interested in being a Guardian, click here. If you would like to donate towards future flights,  you can give through the church. Be sure to indicate Honor Flight on the memo line of your check or click here to give online. If giving online, be sure to indicate designated gift, Honor Flight.

Vietnam Army Veterans Jimmy Johnson (left) and Jim Huffstickler in front of the Reflection Pool at the bottom of the Lincoln Memorial.
Jim Huffstickler, Director Lisa Marie Barrett and Jimmy Johnson in front of the fountain at the WWII Memorial.