Our mission is to ensure that no hero will ever be forgotten. Millions of brave men and women sacrificed their lives to preserve & protect the greatest privilege on earth: freedom. As our heroes grow older, it is our duty to ensure that these stories are preserved, celebrated and passed forward to future generations.
Fourteen years ago, I stood among a pile of rubble and dirt, observing the sights and sounds of Baghdad, Iraq. We, the soldiers of the United States Army, found ourselves stuck in the middle of a brutal war fueled by greed, religion, and competing ideologies. It was very confusing. Why were we there? What was our true mission? Who were our friends? Who were our enemies? During 2004-2005, the Al Qaeda-led insurgency was brutal, and as a nation, we lost brave soldiers, America’s finest men and women, every single day. I had the honor of leading the incredible 3rd platoon, Bravo Company, 91st Engineer Battalion (Sabers), 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas. In my platoon alone, over the course of thousands of combat patrols, three of our brothers lost their lives, and more than a third of our platoon was injured so badly they had to be sent home to the U.S. for advanced medical care. Nearly every member of 3rd platoon was awarded a Purple Heart. Five soldiers were killed in our battalion, and many more due to suicide over the past fourteen years, as they struggle to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and other aspects of mental fatigue resulting from a 15-month combat tour in Iraq. For the first thirteen years upon our return, I had no desire to talk about what we faced. I didn’t reach out to any of our fellow soldiers, and I did my best to forget everything we had seen and experienced in that shit hole (excuse my language). Finally, 18 months ago, we held our first reunion to bring our Saber family back together for the first time. It was a truly a humbling experience. As we exchanged stories, our experiences seem to have happened lifetimes ago, in a galaxy far far away, but these experiences were very real, and many of our fellow soldiers are still scarred today, both physically and mentally, as they deal with those difficult memories.
As I began to accept my own past experiences in combat, I began taking a keener interest in military history, specifically the history of the other brave heroes who came before us. I visited battlefields, war museums, military cemeteries, read books, and began researching certain aspects of military history that interested me. I wasn’t as interested in the politics or the wars themselves, but more the stories of the individual men and women, fighting on the ground and suffering through so much to accomplish these impossible missions. I studied various dynamics of our nation’s previous wars, and I came to a very simple conclusion. What we faced in Iraq was nothing compared to our brothers and sisters who fought before us. As I write this, 6,951 U.S. service members have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. During previous wars, it was common to lose more soldiers than that in a day, or even a matter of hours. While each American life is valuable beyond words, for hundreds of years, American servicemen and women have blindly charged into walls of enemy fire, taken hills, and faced insurmountable odds in the name of one word: freedom. They have heroically sacrificed everything they know and love to ensure that we can live with the greatest privilege in God’s kingdom.
Through my travels, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of these great heroes. I’ve listened to their awe-inspiring stories, and I’ve had a difficult time processing them. I feel obligated to engage our youth whenever possible; to remind them of the sacrifices of these heroes who came before them. What I’ve observed has been incredibly disappointing. Our school curriculums today barely mention our previous wars, if at all. For example, the majority of Americans seem to be aware of only three significant events from World War II: Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and dropping of the atomic bombs. While these were all significant events that altered the course of the war, there were thousands of battles and millions of lives lost that set the conditions for these significant events to occur. In an age where our society tears down monuments and attempts to erase history, I believe strongly that we MUST work together to ensure that these stories live on. Without even a basic understanding of these events, how can we ensure such atrocities will never happen again? Today, the youngest of our World War 2 veterans are in their 90’s, and within the next decade, only a handful of these heroes will still walk among us. I made a decision to tell the stories of these amazing heroes. I want EVERY American to read these stories. I want every American to understand the sacrifices made by our grandparents and great grandparents. I want the younger generations of our great nation to read these stories and pass them on before they disappear forever. Most importantly, I want all of us to understand the circumstances surrounding these stories and the lessons learned, so that we can do our part to ensure nothing like this will ever happen again.
Many of us idolize sports figures and celebrities as we watch them perform their God-given skills on television or the internet. We hound them for autographs and selfies, yet quietly living among us are some of the most amazing men and women to ever walk the face of this earth. We see them in passing at the grocery store. We stroll right past them in public parks and nursing homes. Men and women who, through their sacrifices, molded the world into what it is today, but are now mostly forgotten, especially as they grow older and have already lost many of their friends and loved ones. In our ‘what have you done for me lately culture,’ it’s time that we all come together to honor these incredible men and women, for none of us would be standing here without their sacrifice. Let’s make a pact with each other. The buck stops here. We will tell their stories, and we will pay them the proper respect they deserve as heroes they are, before it’s too late.
President & Founder, WISH for OUR HEROES