We had our first annual gala (loosely termed) a couple of weeks ago. We so appreciate all who attended and hope if you could not come this year you will be able to attend next year. While we exceeded what we hope to raise that night, it almost seemed secondary to what else was accomplished. We had a few of our men that are signed up for future reunions in attendance to soak up the love . To be in a room of 150+ people who stand behind our cause is truly awe inspiring to all of us at Reuniting After War. It gives us the fuel we need for the work ahead as we plan our 2 upcoming reunions. New friends were made, new volunteers hopped aboard and ideas were shared- all priceless.
As many of you know, Clint Romesha was our keynote speaker. Clint was awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts in the Battle of Cop Keating. We were lucky enough to host some the men of 3-61 Cav, all involved in the same battle, for our first reunion last summer. Clint, Thomas Rasmussen and Eric Harder all attended that reunion and were big influences in us pushing forward to reunite other combat units. SSGT Armando Avelos was unable to attend the reunion because at the time he was stationed in Korea and a leave was not possible. He was sorely missed and it seemed only fitting that he come to Minnesota to have a mini reunion since there would be 3 guys in one place for a few days. It really is the greatest pleasure to witness these bonded warriors together, picking up exactly where they left off, no awkward silences, insults immediately hurled followed by a room full of boisterous laughter. But the story gets better….
Major Aaron Dove was also was pivotal in the Battle of Cop Keating on October 3, 2011 as a fighter pilot. His call sign was “Finch”. Finch heard through some mutual contacts (John Henka and Bill Kitz- Thank-you!) that our event may be a good place to meet a few of the guys he had such a meaningful connection with, but had never met. He traveled from North Carolina to do just that. Avelos and Finch spent some time communicating on October 3 during the battle. It was overwhelming to me looking at Finch to think “If not for you this room may be empty tonight” Thomas Rassmussen said it better than an outsider ever could:
“It’s not very often you get to meet the fighter pilots that fly for you overseas. The man in the middle of this picture flew a F-15e Strike Eagle in Afghanistan. It was only his 2nd combat flight and ended up being in charge of all the ordinance drops for us in October 3rd 2009 when we lost 8 of our brothers and 400 Taliban fighters tried to overrun our outpost. He controlled everything from the cockpit of his plane after he dropped the bombs that surely saved our lives. I can’t thank this man enough for being there that day, without him, many more of us would have died!”-