Search Our Site

2021WFFSHomepageGraphic

 

 

 

The Warriors We Serve

'Tis the season for spring cleaning, and we could use your car donations! Please consider donating your unwanted car, truck, RV or boat (running or not), to Warrior Foundation Freedom Station. We use the proceeds from the sale of these vehicles to fund programs that add a little sunshine to the lives of our injured warriors. Pickup is free anywhere in U.S. and your donation is tax-deductible! Donate today at: https://careasy.org/nonprofit/Warrior-Foundation-Freedom-Station

Spring is the season of all things new, and we’re debuting our latest gear at the Warrior Foundation Freedom Station Official Store! Enjoy the sunshine in our lightweight polos - perfect for a day of golf or a leisurely lunch. We’re also down to the final batch of our vintage men’s and ladies’ military green tees – now available for a special price until they run out! From work to play and everything in between - we’ve got you covered. Look great, feel great, and support a vital mission with gear that honors the warrior in all of us. Shop now at https://www.ebay.com/str/warriorfoundationfreedomstation

Celebrated every March 29, National Vietnam War Veterans Day is a special day for Americans to honor the courage and sacrifice of those who served in the Vietnam War. Warrior Foundation Freedom Station is proud to call one of these heroes, Henry James “Jim” Bedinger, a co-founder and member of our family, who has been with us since our inception in 2004. His riveting story represents survival, courage, honor and resilience of the highest order, defining exactly what it means to be an extraordinary American. Jim was born in Philadelphia at the end of World War II. Growing up in the shadows of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, he has never forgotten our nation’s history. On November 22, 1969, Jim ejected from his F-4 Phantom over Laos and landed very close to enemy forces. Captured by the North Vietnamese Army, Jim was walked over the Truong Song mountains into North Vietnam and then trucked to Hanoi. He would spend the next three and a half years as a prisoner of war at Hỏa Lò Prison. Jim was put into a cell with Ernie Brace, a civilian pilot captured in May of 1965. In the cell to their left was Admiral James Stockdale, and in the cell to their right, John McCain. Jim often says today, “It’s hard for a LT(jg) to go wrong surrounded by naval leadership like that.” Asked how he found the strength to survive such a horrific ordeal, Jim tells us: “I found three values that were invaluable in helping me resist our Communist adversary. My faith in God was vital, and the liturgy, music, and stories from the Bible were firmly entrenched in me from attending Saint Peter's boarding school. The second was faith in my country and the long history of Americans who served their country before me. Finally, the core value of family was a blessing I could remember every day. My fellow American POWs were from many states and backgrounds, but we united under the theme of 'Return with Honor.’ No matter what the enemy did, they could never take these core values away from me. Today I thank God, a long line of great teachers, and my parents, who taught me about the patriots who came before me.” Jim was released as part of Operation Homecoming in March 1973. He continues to be an inspiration to us all, and we are incredibly blessed to have him as part of our foundation. You can read about Jim’s incredible journey in his book, “Patriot, Prisoner, Survivor: An American Family at War,” now available on Amazon.com. To all of our Vietnam War veterans, we thank you for your incredible service to our nation.

Today we celebrate National Medal of Honor Day, observed every year on March 25. The Medal of Honor is the highest award a member of the Armed Services can receive for valor in combat, given to those who went above and beyond the call of duty on the battlefield. There are a total of 3,507 Medal of Honor recipients throughout history, with 69 living recipients. Warrior Foundation Freedom Station is very proud to call Medal of Honor recipient John P. Baca a friend and member of our family. On February 10, 1970, John was serving as a Specialist Fourth Class in a heavy weapons platoon with the U.S. Army’s 12th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division in Phuoc Long Province, Vietnam. His heroic actions that day, detailed in his official Medal of Honor Citation below, would earn him a storied place in history as an American war hero: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Baca, Company D, distinguished himself while serving on a recoilless-rifle team during a night ambush mission. A platoon from his company was sent to investigate the detonation of an automatic ambush device forward of his unit's main position and soon came under intense enemy fire from concealed positions along the trail. Hearing the heavy firing from the platoon position and realizing that his recoilless-rifle team could assist the members of the besieged patrol, Sp4c. Baca led his team through the hail of enemy fire to a firing position within the patrol's defensive perimeter. As they prepared to engage the enemy, a fragmentation grenade was thrown into the midst of the patrol. Fully aware of the danger to his comrades, Sp4c. Baca unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own safety, covered the grenade with his steel helmet and fell on it as the grenade exploded, thereby absorbing the lethal fragments and concussion with his body. His gallant action and total disregard for his personal well-being directly saved eight men from certain serious injury or death. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by Sp4c. Baca, at the risk of his life, are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.” President Richard Nixon presented John with the Medal of Honor at the White House on June 15, 1971. John returned to Vietnam in 1990 and worked for two months alongside former enemy soldiers to build a United States-Vietnam friendship clinic. To John, and all Medal of Honor recipients past and present, Warrior Foundation Freedom Station salutes you!

March 13, 1942 marks the creation of the war dog program in the military and is recognized annually as National K9 Veterans Day. This is a day to honor and celebrate the heroic service and sacrifices of our four-legged warriors and their handlers, who have served in every major conflict the U.S. military has been involved in since World War II. One of those K9 teams was Warrior Foundation Freedom Station's very own Sergeant Mike Dowling, U.S. Marine Corps (ret.) and his fellow Marine, a bomb-sniffing German Shepherd named Sergeant Rex. Throughout their deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, they were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines as the explosive detection dog team. Their mission was to search for and find explosives and munitions every day. Mike talked to us about his extraordinary bond and experiences with Sergeant Rex. “Walking ahead of patrols and clearing the way of explosives is one of the most dangerous jobs in the military. The primary way for a dog team to succeed is the bond and trust they build with each other. Rex had to trust that I would always be there to protect him, and I had to trust in Rex's capabilities to alert me and the other Marines to danger. That trust allowed us to successfully find explosives and munitions throughout our deployment while surviving the Triangle of Death and the First Battle of Fallujah, also known as Operation Vigilant Resolve. A well-known saying among handlers is that emotions run up and down the leash between handlers and their dogs. That means handler and dog are not separate; they work as a team, with complete faith and confidence in each other. That unbreakable bond between me and Rex enabled us to perform our missions successfully under constant threats, and we were awarded for our operations upon returning from deployment. People might call him a dog, but I call Sergeant Rex a fellow Marine. He and I were proud to be part of a legacy started by dog teams in WWII and carried on throughout the history of the war dog program. Dog teams have been credited with saving tens of thousands of lives in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and continue to be on the front lines to this day. Sergeant Rex faithfully served 10 years in the Marine Corps with three combat deployments. He was wounded in action and retired in 2012, passing away less than a year later. Sergeant Rex’s service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. Please honor and pay tribute today to these warrior dogs who have been integral to the warfighting force and helping to keep our troops safe.” - Sergeant Mike Dowling, U.S. Marine Corps (ret.) ***If you’d like to read more about Mike and Rex’s harrowing wartime experiences, get your copy of Mike’s book, “Sergeant Rex: The Unbreakable Bond Between a Marine and His Military Working Dog” at Amazon.com.***

March is Women’s History Month, and Warrior Foundation Freedom Station salutes the incredible women service members of the U.S. military! One of the most exceptional female warriors we’re privileged to know is Lt. Col. Mary Kate Flatley, U.S. Marine Corps (ret.), former Commanding Officer of Wounded Warrior Battalion-West. Below, she reflects on her personal journey and shares her thoughts on women in the military with us. “Serving in the Navy, and then the Marine Corps, brought definite challenges, yet greater rewards. It has truly been an altruistic experience and one that I will always remember with great pride. As a woman serving in the military for 35 years, I had the opportunity to witness much change. When I enlisted in 1985, women were not authorized to serve on combatant ships and were only authorized to serve on non-combatant ships in 1980. My very first duty station was aboard the USS Cape Cod (AD-43), homeported at 32nd St. in San Diego, California. I met the ship in Yokosuka, Japan and completed the deployment with her while visiting the liberty ports of Hong Kong, Korea, and the Philippines. Serving on the Cape Cod was a fantastic experience, and I made some wonderful friends. I remained on active duty for four years, completing two West Pacs and reaching the rank of EM2 after obtaining the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist designation as an EM3. Upon separating from active duty, I enlisted in the Navy Reserves and began my journey as a college student. After graduation, I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and began a career as a Marine Corps Officer. I accomplished every goal I set for myself as a Marine, and my greatest, most altruistic duty station was serving as Commanding Officer of Wounded Warrior Battalion-West. It was an honor and a privilege to be able to give back to our Wounded Warriors, Today, women are commanding aircraft carriers and Combat Arms Battalions, and serving on submarines and in Combat Arms MOSs. These changes are exciting! Yet there is much more work to be done. From my perspective, the young women serving today are making great strides and taking the initiative to make the experience of serving in the military even better for women. I can attest that every generation has done their part to pave the way for future generations of women service members. It was incredibly meaningful to be a female warrior, and I can’t wait to see what is yet to come.” - Lt. Col. Mary Kate Flatley, U.S. Marine Corps (ret.) Pictured (from left to right): 1stLt Jessica Hansen, 2ndLt Rachel Murphy, Lt. Col. Mary Kate Flatley, Capt Rebecca Carlson, and Maj Nicole Bastian.

One United States Marine, five months and 2,650 miles = one unforgettable journey. Retired Sergeant Bronson Mak, a former Freedom Station resident, will depart on March 28 to take on the world-famous Pacific Crest Trail. While most hikers try to lighten their load, Bronson will be adding 20 lbs. of weight by wearing body armor and ballistic plates, for one very special reason. Bronson says, "I'm wearing the armor in honor of my brothers and sisters who did not make it home. I wanted to take them on this journey with me and let them enjoy the beautiful sights they didn't live long enough to see. For those of us who who do make it home, many of us still struggle with visible and invisible battle scars. That's why I'm also doing this hike to raise money for Warrior Foundation Freedom Station." We'll be following Bronson's incredible journey from start to finish. Read his story and learn how you can support him at https://us.commitchange.com/ca/san-diego/warrior-foundation-freedom-station/campaigns/operation-pacific-crest-trail/.

Snuggle up with your sweetie this Valentine’s Day with great gift ideas from our online store! Enjoy a cozy afternoon with our super plush, officially licensed queen-sized blankets (available in Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force), fleece vests, coffee mugs and more. Best of all? You'll be showing a lot of love to the ill and injured warriors we serve. 100% of proceeds benefit Warrior Foundation Freedom Station! Shop online at ebay.com/str/warriorfoundationfreedomstation All products include free shipping anywhere in the United States.

Warrior Assistance

Apr 20, 2020 - Apr 20, 2021

Four Star Charity Navigator