Afghanistan - Kuwait Middle East - Four veterans and one civilian are headed to remote bases throughout the Middle East with one simple message: Never Quit.
It was the seventh time Marine Corps .50 cal machine gun operator Salvador Gonzalez’ Humvee had been hit by a roadside bomb. Instead of previous strikes, which required nothing more then a hobble back to the rear for replacement parts, this time his Lieutenant was dead and he was in a coma.
With the dream of making it to the show in NCAA Division I, basketball realized, Dan Beery was going to make sure that he didn’t let his coaches and teammates down by not putting in the extra training hours. Having grown up in rural Indiana breaking mustang horses and doing whatever needed to be done for his family, Dan was no stranger to long hard days of work... he was just a typical farm tough young man. Then one day while warming up with friends he suffered a career ending knee injury. His dreams of game winning three pointers and the NBA where all but over.
Flying Navy helicopters with his room on the ship filled with music sheets and guitars was how Naval Academy graduate Jeff Widenhofer liked to deploy. After 3 trips to the Middle East and a thousand hours of flying he was getting ready to drop out of his green ‘pickle’ flight suit and spend more time driving his acoustic guitar... Jeff, had a passion for creating music and he was very good at it.
Then one day word came that Jeff would lead the death notification team assigned to the family of a Navy SEAL Officer - Lieutenant Michael Murphy. Not only did Jeff cross LT Murphy’s family threshold performing official notification duties, but he ended up basically living with the family and supporting them for month to follow.
A Marine Sergeant executed his Executive Officer in broad daylight and put another bullet through his Commanding Officer’s chest. Marine Officer and Judge Advocate, Captain Charles Feldmann was assigned duties as lead prosecutor in the high stakes, high publicity death penalty court-martial. Little did he know that his successful conviction would set in motion events that would change his life forever.
Behind every curveball in life there is a silver lining, just ask these four individuals or the veteran who brought them all together to share their life stories with Service Members this week.
In 2006, Robert ‘Robi’ Powers, a former US Army Mountain Warfare Instructor, National Team Biathlete and World Cup and Olympic Teams coach received a phone call from a friend serving in Afghanistan. The message was hard to take. (A mentor of Rob’s had been killed in a nighttime firefight). This was the second time Rob had received one of these horrific calls, but this time his comprehensive fitness was strong and the path he felt he must take was a resolute one. His mission – to instill in fellow service members the awareness of how important they are to one another. To share the story of how two amazing non-commissioned officers in his life (two brothers who took the time to mentor him, remain involved in his life and make certain that he NEVER QUIT back in the day), allowed him to achieve so much in life.
Nine years later, American300 Tours working in concert with the Department of Defense places volunteers with resilient life stories on bases around the world. Through relaxed unit level engagements special guests share their personal life stories with active duty members, who in most cases have their own jaw dropping stories of never giving up. The goal – listen, learn, connect and grow in a positive manner as one team. Instilling the spirit that Robi learned long ago – never quit!
In the days to come we’ll be sharing ‘the rest of the story’ regarding where Sal, Dan, Jeff and Charles are today and the accomplishments they’ve achieved and continue to achieve by having never quit.
Follow the ‘American300 Tours‘ on Facebook.
For more information on the Department of Defense Office of Armed Forces Entertainment please visit: www.armedforcesentertainment.com
To learn more about American300 Tours visit: www.American300.org
American300 is an all-volunteer 501c3 nonprofit that provides resiliency and operational programming to the Department of Defense and Department of State. No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended or implied - American300.org