Death, no matter when or how it comes, is an inevitable part of life, yet we're never prepared to say goodbye to a family member or friend.
This month, we had to do just that. We said, "until we meet again" to a member of the Civil Air Patrol and long-time supporter of Wreaths Across America.
Richard Gammon was born May 17, 1943, in the Widow Brown’s Tavern, later Barrett’s Farm, a historic part of the history of Concord, Massachusetts. Upon graduating from Concord-Carlisle High School, he joined the U.S. Air Force. He would go on to marry his wife Marcia, and they welcomed the birth of their daughter Brenda while stationed in the Netherlands. They returned stateside, and Rick retired from the Airforce in 1983. He and his family eventually settled in Maine where Rick began a broadcasting career working in radio and television.
For years, Rick served as a driver for the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) before suffering a massive heart attack in 2006. He was brought back from the brink of death by the firefighters and paramedics of the Bangor Fire Department, station 6. For the next 11 years, Rick would show all who knew and loved him what it meant to live life to the fullest.
In October of 2007, Rick joined the Bangor-Brewer Squadron of Civil Air Patrol as a logistics officer. He served in the position for several years and was recognized by the squadron and the Maine Wing for running one of the best logistics programs in the Wing. In October of 2014, Maj Gammon accepted the position of Squadron Commander for the Bangor squadron. This position required him to lead 40 plus members to achieve the missions of Civil Air Patrol. Maj Gammon connected to his staff and cadets both personally and professionally and assisted all of us in becoming better people.
On top of the day to day duties of running a squadron, Maj Gammon became a mission scanner and observer flying fire watch missions.
The Civil Air Patrol Cadets meant the world to Rick. For three years he accompanied cadets to Arlington National Cemetery and assisted with laying wreaths at the cemetery. This trip changed the lives of many cadets, and in fact, his daughter Brenda shared with us one cadet credits Rick with preventing his suicide attempt.
CAP Lt. Col Cathie Spaulding said, "Maj Richard Gammon’s accomplishments were truly outstanding and reflected great credit upon himself, Maine Wing and the Civil Air Patrol."
What we will all remember most and cherish forever is Rick's positive attitude and sense of humor on display here in one of his many "photobomb" opportunities.
This video was produced back in October of 2015 when I had the privilege and honor to fly with Maj Rick Gammon and Col James Jordan.
Maj Rick Gammon has become and will continue to be one of the 100 Reasons Why We Remember, Honor, and Teach as we Countdown to Wreath Day.
Terry says veterans make up about 18 percent of the Berkshire Hathaway company's workforce. Wreaths Across America gives them the opportunity to recognize veterans across the country but most importantly says Terry to honor their employees who served.
Wreaths Across America announced that its Executive Director Karen Worcester and Founder Morrill Worcester were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Patriot Award, the highest award the Society can bestow to an individual.
I was a Navy spouse for 12 years and during that time we lost over two dozen of our closest friends. Most of whom are buried at Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
Photo Contest Winners Announced
Wreaths Across America chose the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in Louisville, KY, from March 22-24 to debut its newly designed Traveling Education Exhibit. This 48-foot display trailer hooked to its Chevy truck was loaded with many “hands on” technology and interactive information about the program to help visitors learn about the mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach.
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Wayne Hanson was honored to be one of the Wreaths Across America team accompanying the exhibit, where one of the more memorable things he had the pleasure of doing was to say two words to some of those present…”Welcome Home!”
As the only fully-integrated recycling provider in Central Texas, TDS joined in the effort to remember, honor and teach by donating their services.
All of the 30 Medal of Honor Recipients in attendance during the four days of events were glad to have a chance to meet Morrill and Karen.
The goal of the S.W.A.T. training is to create a core "support group" for location and fundraising volunteers with more experienced leaders joining the ranks every year.
"If you're an American, you're proud to do it. I know it's probably one of the best things I've done every year."
Mission Matters with Karen Worcester is a new program heard only on Wednesdays on Wreaths Across America Radio. Here's the schedule of the shows coming up and a link to the station.
Anyone who really knows me knows that I am often a walking Wreaths Across America billboard. They will normally see me sporting a WAA-branded sweatshirt or t-shirt, my blue and green WAA wristband and my ever-present WAA baseball cap. I’m proud of my connection with WAA and love to promote what we do and why we do it.
That being said, I want to relate a recent encounter I had while standing in line at our local Social Security Administration (SSA) Office the other day.
Air Force Veteran*, Wayne Merritt, currently manages the Veterans Transportation Program based out of Wreaths Across America Headquarters in Maine. Monday thru Friday, Wayne travels to area towns in the Downeast region to pick up veterans and bring them to their doctors’ appointments. This is just one of the many free programs Wreaths Across America offers to veterans and their families.
Military children worry about their parent’s safety very day. These children face many challenges, frequent moves and lengthy separation due to trainings and deployments. They take on more responsibilities and worry about their parent every day.
"I really don't see it stopping, and we want people to tell us where they see it. Take pictures and videos when you check it out and share them with us on social media."
Debbie says she and the transportation team are excited about new and more efficient systems that will be in place for 2018 and beyond.
To come up with an accurate wreath count for sponsorships, great effort was taken to assure no one was forgotten.
As we approached, Morrill and I began to realize that here laid the body of a very important veteran that we had apparently overlooked for the past 26 years in our annual wreath placement.
The many stops along the way at schools, veterans organizations, police and fire stations were also overflowing with love and good wishes.
I want my daughter to grow up understanding what true heroes are and the sacrifices that have been made for us to live in a free country.
Complete strangers just moments before, together, Denny and Ella read the name on her grandfather's headstone and talked some about him while laying his wreath.
"When she explained to us what Wreaths Across America is and does, it was a no-brainer for me that we would get involved."
On behalf of her father Rod, Cindi shared her grandfather's words with the audience during the memorial service. You can hear her presentation and see other highlights from the service in this video.
These two quiet and humble individuals are a team dedicated to giving back to their nation. They educate others by sharing their experiences and lessons of love and sacrifice not just from the war but the other "battlefields of life."
To better serve our volunteers in 2018 and beyond, we're reorganizing and providing more tools to support their inspiring efforts.
"I witnessed a few of the boys laying an "in honor of" wreath. They did it with reverence."
Guided by an infrangible faith when the supply of lifejackets ran out they gave up their own to save the lives of others.
"I went up to that hill and looked at all of those graves of my colleagues who have gone before me.
Volunteers planning to assist in removing wreaths are asked to attend a short briefing at the McClellan Gate at 8:30 a.m. and to follow these guidelines.
As witnessed through this video, the volunteer commitment of patriotic citizens is a year-round effort that culminates in a remarkable day of unity, friendship, and healing.
Some give the ultimate sacrifice of a loved one and are often left in sorrow to wonder if other citizens remember or appreciate what they gave up for liberty and justice for all.