Our Veterans Attending

Help us welcome and honor the following veterans attending the Helicopters for Heroes’ Annual Helicopter Hunt and Festival. Thank you for your service.

We will be adding to this list as our attendees are confirmed.

I was injured January 3, 2008. Lost 80% of lungs and 36% of body burned with TBI, and PTSD. I was “Operation Enduing Freedom” with the 82nd Air Born division. My MOS in the army was a 19-Delta, which is a Cavalry scout.

First in last out.

Attending with Sons of the Flag

Jose Lopez

I was injured January 3, 2008. Lost 80% of lungs and 36% of body burned with TBI, and PTSD. I was “Operation Enduing Freedom” with the 82nd Air Born division. My MOS in the army was a 19-Delta, which is a Cavalry scout.

First in last out.

Attending with Sons of the Flag

  • Delayed Entry 1993
  • BASD 1994
  • AIT ( Ft Sam) Combat Medic 1994
  • Korea 1994-1995
  • Ft Carson 1995-1997 ( Kuwait 1995)
  • SHAPE, Belgium  1997-2000
  • Ft Drum 2000-2002 ( Bosnia 2001)
  • Baumholder Germany 2002-2007 ( OIF 2003-2005, 2005-2006)
  • Ramadi, Iraq ( WIA 2006; 28 percent burns, TBI, PTSD….)

I met my wife of almost 14 years ( married in 2007) in between Iraq tours.  I helped raise her daughter Julia from age 5 to college since we have been together.

  • BAMC  08.2006-12.2006
  • Landstuhl Regional Medical Center  2007-2010
  • WTU  2010-2012
  • KLeber Health Clinic ( COAD 2012-2014); Rank held at retirement; Army Staff Sergeant E-6.
  • Full Retirement 2014 ( Permanent Disabled Retired and Permanent and Total Disabled)

At the present time;  I am fully retired.  My wife, Tina, is currently employed with T-Mobile; and our daughter has been enrolled at the Nossi College of Art in Nashville since 2017.

Attending with Sons of the Flag

Shawn Nelson

  • Delayed Entry 1993
  • BASD 1994
  • AIT ( Ft Sam) Combat Medic 1994
  • Korea 1994-1995
  • Ft Carson 1995-1997 ( Kuwait 1995)
  • SHAPE, Belgium  1997-2000
  • Ft Drum 2000-2002 ( Bosnia 2001)
  • Baumholder Germany 2002-2007 ( OIF 2003-2005, 2005-2006)
  • Ramadi, Iraq ( WIA 2006; 28 percent burns, TBI, PTSD….)

I met my wife of almost 14 years ( married in 2007) in between Iraq tours.  I helped raise her daughter Julia from age 5 to college since we have been together.

  • BAMC  08.2006-12.2006
  • Landstuhl Regional Medical Center  2007-2010
  • WTU  2010-2012
  • KLeber Health Clinic ( COAD 2012-2014); Rank held at retirement; Army Staff Sergeant E-6.
  • Full Retirement 2014 ( Permanent Disabled Retired and Permanent and Total Disabled)

At the present time;  I am fully retired.  My wife, Tina, is currently employed with T-Mobile; and our daughter has been enrolled at the Nossi College of Art in Nashville since 2017.

Attending with Sons of the Flag

Sgt. Avila joined the U.S. Army in 2004 as an Infantryman, deploying to Iraq in 2007. On May 14, 2007, his vehicle was struck with a 200 lb IED, resulting in burns to 75% of his body and amputation below the knee of his right leg.

Blown up, severely burned and nearly dead with bilateral femur fractures, Sergeant Omar “Crispy” Avila kept on fighting to help his teammates survive.

Upon retiring from the U.S. Army in 2010, Sgt. Avila never allowed his injuries to slow his success. Powering through his injuries, he became the current world record holder for the World Association of Bench and Deadlift in the Paralympics category. He also started his own consulting firm, 5 Toes, and dedicated his life to serving his fellow veterans.

Sgt. Avila now serves as a liaison for Sons of the Flag, as well as representing several military-inspired brands, while helping other wounded warriors through their recovery process as well. He continues to motivate wounded veterans and seeks to educate the public about veteran issues through numerous public speaking events and is a sought after motivational speaker.

Attending with Sons of the Flag

Omar Avila

Sgt. Avila joined the U.S. Army in 2004 as an Infantryman, deploying to Iraq in 2007. On May 14, 2007, his vehicle was struck with a 200 lb IED, resulting in burns to 75% of his body and amputation below the knee of his right leg.

Blown up, severely burned and nearly dead with bilateral femur fractures, Sergeant Omar “Crispy” Avila kept on fighting to help his teammates survive.

Upon retiring from the U.S. Army in 2010, Sgt. Avila never allowed his injuries to slow his success. Powering through his injuries, he became the current world record holder for the World Association of Bench and Deadlift in the Paralympics category. He also started his own consulting firm, 5 Toes, and dedicated his life to serving his fellow veterans.

Sgt. Avila now serves as a liaison for Sons of the Flag, as well as representing several military-inspired brands, while helping other wounded warriors through their recovery process as well. He continues to motivate wounded veterans and seeks to educate the public about veteran issues through numerous public speaking events and is a sought after motivational speaker.

Attending with Sons of the Flag

Ryan “Birdman” Parrott, Author, Public Speaker, and Founder of two non- profits benefitting Veterans and First Responders is originally from Detroit, Michigan. Ryan enlisted in the Navy after watching the Twin Towers fall on 9/11, and Parrott served eight years as a U.S. Navy SEAL attached to Team SEVEN, completing three combat tours to Iraq before being assigned to Advanced Training Command as an Instructor.

In 2005, while serving in Iraq, Ryan was riding atop a Humvee manning the gun turret in enemy territory, when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED), causing a flash fire and throwing him from the Humvee. Ryan regained composure with his face and hands burned and witnessed his fellow team members suffer devastating burn and blast injuries. While Ryan’s burns were only first and second degree, his teammates suffered lifelong injuries.

After completing his service, Ryan had the privilege of meeting a retired Army Ranger who was severely disfigured due to a horrific burn injury. Ryan was inspired by his courage, but disappointed about the lack of advancements in burn care that existed for this Ranger and others like him. He decided to do something about it!

In 2012, Ryan established Sons of the Flag to help burn survivors and their families find the help and medical attention that they deserve. He brought together burn surgeons, donors, and volunteers to aid in the fight.

Today, Sons of the Flag has a presence in more than 30 states, has funded more than $1MM in burn fellowships for burn care research, has numerous programs designed for and dedicated to burn survivors, has funded burn unit equipment in more than 10 hospitals, holds several successful annual fundraisers and is the beneficiary of several fire conferences throughout the U.S.!

Ryan is also the founder of the Birds Eye View Project, addressing the extreme needs of Veterans and First Responders through extreme sports.

And, he is the author of Sons of the Flag: Real Accounts from the last 100 years of American Service.

Attending with Sons of the Flag

Ryan “Birdman” Parrott

Ryan “Birdman” Parrott, Author, Public Speaker, and Founder of two non- profits benefitting Veterans and First Responders is originally from Detroit, Michigan. Ryan enlisted in the Navy after watching the Twin Towers fall on 9/11, and Parrott served eight years as a U.S. Navy SEAL attached to Team SEVEN, completing three combat tours to Iraq before being assigned to Advanced Training Command as an Instructor.

In 2005, while serving in Iraq, Ryan was riding atop a Humvee manning the gun turret in enemy territory, when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED), causing a flash fire and throwing him from the Humvee. Ryan regained composure with his face and hands burned and witnessed his fellow team members suffer devastating burn and blast injuries. While Ryan’s burns were only first and second degree, his teammates suffered lifelong injuries.

After completing his service, Ryan had the privilege of meeting a retired Army Ranger who was severely disfigured due to a horrific burn injury. Ryan was inspired by his courage, but disappointed about the lack of advancements in burn care that existed for this Ranger and others like him. He decided to do something about it!

In 2012, Ryan established Sons of the Flag to help burn survivors and their families find the help and medical attention that they deserve. He brought together burn surgeons, donors, and volunteers to aid in the fight.

Today, Sons of the Flag has a presence in more than 30 states, has funded more than $1MM in burn fellowships for burn care research, has numerous programs designed for and dedicated to burn survivors, has funded burn unit equipment in more than 10 hospitals, holds several successful annual fundraisers and is the beneficiary of several fire conferences throughout the U.S.!

Ryan is also the founder of the Birds Eye View Project, addressing the extreme needs of Veterans and First Responders through extreme sports.

And, he is the author of Sons of the Flag: Real Accounts from the last 100 years of American Service.

Attending with Sons of the Flag

SGT Chris Fleming, US Marine Corps

Christian “Chris” Fleming, Marine Veteran, served honorable in the Marine Corps for 8 years on multiple combat tours as an Infantry machine gunner. Chris participated in the Iraqi Liberation in 2003, attached to Task Force Tarawa, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines. In 2009, he was wounded in Afghanistan while serving as a contractor to assist indigenous forces. He lost both of his legs from an Improvised Explosive Device while he and his teammate were returning to their Forward Operating Base. Chris is an avid outdoorsman and active with multiple shooting teams across the nation. Always one to give back, Chris now serves as a fulltime volunteer for a Veteran-based charity offering professional firearms training to those with injuries as a form of athletic rehabilitation.

Attending with The Independence Fund

Chris Fleming

SGT Chris Fleming, US Marine Corps

Christian “Chris” Fleming, Marine Veteran, served honorable in the Marine Corps for 8 years on multiple combat tours as an Infantry machine gunner. Chris participated in the Iraqi Liberation in 2003, attached to Task Force Tarawa, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines. In 2009, he was wounded in Afghanistan while serving as a contractor to assist indigenous forces. He lost both of his legs from an Improvised Explosive Device while he and his teammate were returning to their Forward Operating Base. Chris is an avid outdoorsman and active with multiple shooting teams across the nation. Always one to give back, Chris now serves as a fulltime volunteer for a Veteran-based charity offering professional firearms training to those with injuries as a form of athletic rehabilitation.

Attending with The Independence Fund

SGT Mike Verardo, US Army

Mike is a New England native and die-hard sports fan. After 9/11, Mike knew he had to fight and defend his country so he enlisted to be part of the storied 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, NC, with B Co, 2/508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. A recipient of the Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge, Mike was wounded in Afghanistan in 2010. He has been classified as one of the most severely wounded Soldiers in the Global War on Terrorism, having survived over 120 surgeries. He is a single leg amputee, with severe burns over 70% of his body. When not recovering from surgery, Mike serves as the Chief Brand Officer for The Independence Fund and lives with his family in NC.

Attending with The Independence Fund

Mike Verardo

SGT Mike Verardo, US Army

Mike is a New England native and die-hard sports fan. After 9/11, Mike knew he had to fight and defend his country so he enlisted to be part of the storied 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, NC, with B Co, 2/508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. A recipient of the Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge, Mike was wounded in Afghanistan in 2010. He has been classified as one of the most severely wounded Soldiers in the Global War on Terrorism, having survived over 120 surgeries. He is a single leg amputee, with severe burns over 70% of his body. When not recovering from surgery, Mike serves as the Chief Brand Officer for The Independence Fund and lives with his family in NC.

Attending with The Independence Fund

SGT Nick Firth, US Army

Sergeant Nick Firth joined the U.S. Army National Guard in 2002 and later joined active service as a member of the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, NY. While deployed to Iraq in 2006, Nick was injured when an IED detonated, resulting in the amputation of his right leg. Following his recovery, Nick was medically retired from the Army in 2009 and currently resides in Charlotte, NC with his daughter and family.

Attending with The Independence Fund

Nick Firth

SGT Nick Firth, US Army

Sergeant Nick Firth joined the U.S. Army National Guard in 2002 and later joined active service as a member of the 10th Mountain Division at Ft. Drum, NY. While deployed to Iraq in 2006, Nick was injured when an IED detonated, resulting in the amputation of his right leg. Following his recovery, Nick was medically retired from the Army in 2009 and currently resides in Charlotte, NC with his daughter and family.

Attending with The Independence Fund

SGT Brian McGuire, US Army

Brian joined the Army in 2006 after working as a welder and mechanic following high school. He served four combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. While serving as an EOD Tech in Afghanistan in 2010 with the 75th Ranger Regiment, Brian stepped on an improvised explosive device and immediately lost both of his legs. Brian’s awards include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantry Badge. He and his family reside in North Carolina where Brian works in the gunsmithing industry.

Attending with The Independence Fund

Brian McGuire

SGT Brian McGuire, US Army

Brian joined the Army in 2006 after working as a welder and mechanic following high school. He served four combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. While serving as an EOD Tech in Afghanistan in 2010 with the 75th Ranger Regiment, Brian stepped on an improvised explosive device and immediately lost both of his legs. Brian’s awards include the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantry Badge. He and his family reside in North Carolina where Brian works in the gunsmithing industry.

Attending with The Independence Fund

CPL Chris Miller, US Marine Corps

Chris, an Ohio native, joined the Marine Corps in 1993, serving as an infantryman and antitank assault gunner before being injured. Chris was involved in a training accident that resulted in him being paralyzed from the neck down and wheelchair bound for nearly two years. After two dozen back procedures to remove vertebra, install rods in his lower back, and install an electronic box to block pain signals, Chris is able to walk and enjoy his life. Today, Chris lives in Ohio with his family where he spends time hunting and connecting with other Veterans.

Attending with The Independence Fund

Chris Miller

CPL Chris Miller, US Marine Corps

Chris, an Ohio native, joined the Marine Corps in 1993, serving as an infantryman and antitank assault gunner before being injured. Chris was involved in a training accident that resulted in him being paralyzed from the neck down and wheelchair bound for nearly two years. After two dozen back procedures to remove vertebra, install rods in his lower back, and install an electronic box to block pain signals, Chris is able to walk and enjoy his life. Today, Chris lives in Ohio with his family where he spends time hunting and connecting with other Veterans.

Attending with The Independence Fund

CPL Kevin Brewington, US Army

Kevin joined the Army in 2010 as an infantryman where he completed training in Ft Benning, GA. He was assigned to 25th Infantry Division out of Ft Wainwright Alaska. After serving 8 months, he received orders to deploy in March of 2011 to Afghanistan. On September 22, 2011, in the District of Panjwaii, Kevin was conducting a foot patrol through a village and stepped on a 30lb IED causing him to become a bi-lateral amputee and having a salvaged right arm. He was flown to Walter Reed Medical Center 6 days later, where he had more than 90 surgeries. Kevin officially retired in 2013, and lives in Union, SC.

Attending with The Independence Fund

Kevin Brewington

CPL Kevin Brewington, US Army

Kevin joined the Army in 2010 as an infantryman where he completed training in Ft Benning, GA. He was assigned to 25th Infantry Division out of Ft Wainwright Alaska. After serving 8 months, he received orders to deploy in March of 2011 to Afghanistan. On September 22, 2011, in the District of Panjwaii, Kevin was conducting a foot patrol through a village and stepped on a 30lb IED causing him to become a bi-lateral amputee and having a salvaged right arm. He was flown to Walter Reed Medical Center 6 days later, where he had more than 90 surgeries. Kevin officially retired in 2013, and lives in Union, SC.

Attending with The Independence Fund

SGT Jordan Leitsch, US Marine Corps

Jordan joined the Marine Corps in 2007, serving as an infantryman and Infantry Combat Instructor during his service as well as deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010. Jordan suffered multiple injuries during his time in the military that resulted in the amputation of his left leg above the knee. Today, Jordan lives in Wisconsin with his wife and two sons where he likes to spend time hunting on his land.

Attending with The Independence Fund

Jordan Leitsch

SGT Jordan Leitsch, US Marine Corps

Jordan joined the Marine Corps in 2007, serving as an infantryman and Infantry Combat Instructor during his service as well as deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010. Jordan suffered multiple injuries during his time in the military that resulted in the amputation of his left leg above the knee. Today, Jordan lives in Wisconsin with his wife and two sons where he likes to spend time hunting on his land.

Attending with The Independence Fund

Phil Limauge serves as the Mobility and Adaptive Sports Program Manager at The Independence Fund and joined the team in January 2019. Phil joined the United States Marine Corps in November 2005, deploying twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. During his service, Corporal Limauge filled multiple roles including time as a driver, gunner, scout, and vehicle commander.

Attending with The Independence Fund

Phil Limauge

Phil Limauge serves as the Mobility and Adaptive Sports Program Manager at The Independence Fund and joined the team in January 2019. Phil joined the United States Marine Corps in November 2005, deploying twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. During his service, Corporal Limauge filled multiple roles including time as a driver, gunner, scout, and vehicle commander.

Attending with The Independence Fund

SSG Ty Carter was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Kamdesh, in Afghanistan on October 3, 2009. Ty was serving with the 4th Infantry Division, with prior service in the Marine Corps.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Ty Carter

SSG Ty Carter was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Kamdesh, in Afghanistan on October 3, 2009. Ty was serving with the 4th Infantry Division, with prior service in the Marine Corps.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Corporal Neil Frustaglio joined the Marine Corps in 2002. He served 2 years of Nuclear Security duty and then joined 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines to deploy to Ramadi, Iraq in 2005. Corporal Frustaglio was injured in an IED blast in December of 2005, losing both of his legs above the knee. The Michigan native currently lives in Texas with his family.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Neil Frustaglio

Corporal Neil Frustaglio joined the Marine Corps in 2002. He served 2 years of Nuclear Security duty and then joined 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines to deploy to Ramadi, Iraq in 2005. Corporal Frustaglio was injured in an IED blast in December of 2005, losing both of his legs above the knee. The Michigan native currently lives in Texas with his family.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Christopher “Chris” Powell joined the US Army in 1998 and retired on 31 January 2019. During his career, Chris took part in the several deployments including the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Scout Section Leader with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. In 2009, he became a Counterintelligence Agent, where he provided direct support to the Special Operations community throughout the United States, Afghanistan, Syria, and back to Iraq until retiring in 2019. After his retirement, Chris and his wife Amanda, along with their children Krystyne and Christopher, moved back to East Texas. They currently manage several small businesses and continue their entrepreneurship while enjoying their time as a family.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Chris Powell

Christopher “Chris” Powell joined the US Army in 1998 and retired on 31 January 2019. During his career, Chris took part in the several deployments including the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Scout Section Leader with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. In 2009, he became a Counterintelligence Agent, where he provided direct support to the Special Operations community throughout the United States, Afghanistan, Syria, and back to Iraq until retiring in 2019. After his retirement, Chris and his wife Amanda, along with their children Krystyne and Christopher, moved back to East Texas. They currently manage several small businesses and continue their entrepreneurship while enjoying their time as a family.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Brett Morganti served with SEAL Team 6, Red Squadron, and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions at the Battle of Roberts Ridge, one of the most difficult and bloody engagements of Operation Anaconda early in the war in Afghanistan.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Brett Morganti

Brett Morganti served with SEAL Team 6, Red Squadron, and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions at the Battle of Roberts Ridge, one of the most difficult and bloody engagements of Operation Anaconda early in the war in Afghanistan.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

MSG Leif Taylor retired from the Army after 20 years of service that included deployments to the Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan campaigns.  He enlisted in 1998 and served in Japan (pre-9/11) and Army units on Ft. Bragg NC and Ft. Meade MD for the remainder of his career.  After retirement, he continued to serve as a contractor to the US Army on Ft. Meade then transitioned to a civilian position with Department of Homeland Security in Southwest TX.  After a couple years, he finally moved home to be closer with family in Louisiana.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Leif Taylor

MSG Leif Taylor retired from the Army after 20 years of service that included deployments to the Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan campaigns.  He enlisted in 1998 and served in Japan (pre-9/11) and Army units on Ft. Bragg NC and Ft. Meade MD for the remainder of his career.  After retirement, he continued to serve as a contractor to the US Army on Ft. Meade then transitioned to a civilian position with Department of Homeland Security in Southwest TX.  After a couple years, he finally moved home to be closer with family in Louisiana.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Rick Gannon is the Gold Star son of CPT Richard Gannon, who was KIA April 17th, 2004 while serving as the company commander of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Division in Al Anbar province, Iraq. The hunt with Helicopters for Heroes will be Rick’s first real hunting experience, making it truly special.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Rick Gannon

Rick Gannon is the Gold Star son of CPT Richard Gannon, who was KIA April 17th, 2004 while serving as the company commander of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Division in Al Anbar province, Iraq. The hunt with Helicopters for Heroes will be Rick’s first real hunting experience, making it truly special.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

SFC Benjamin “Benny” Gutierrez, served as a Senior Communications Sergeant with 3rd Special Forces Group (A), with multiple deployments over 20 years of service, to include both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Benny Gutierrez

SFC Benjamin “Benny” Gutierrez, served as a Senior Communications Sergeant with 3rd Special Forces Group (A), with multiple deployments over 20 years of service, to include both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Maj. Thomas Newman was an Air Force Pararescueman in Vietnam, and was awarded the Air Force Cross for the valiant rescue of a downed F-105 pilot while under fire behind enemy lines in Laos, May 30, 1968. Major Newman continued to serve training future Air Force Special Operations PJ’s (Pararescue Jumpers) throughout his 29 year career.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Thomas Newman

Maj. Thomas Newman was an Air Force Pararescueman in Vietnam, and was awarded the Air Force Cross for the valiant rescue of a downed F-105 pilot while under fire behind enemy lines in Laos, May 30, 1968. Major Newman continued to serve training future Air Force Special Operations PJ’s (Pararescue Jumpers) throughout his 29 year career.

Attending with The Exceptional Warriors

Jimmy Pollozani was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1980. In 2000, he moved to Fort Worth, Texas with his family and opened up his first restaurant in Keller, Texas. In 2005, he joined the Grapevine Police Department and worked there until 2011. In 2011, he joined the DFW DPS Police Department and worked as a street officer. In 2013, he joined the Fort Worth Police Department and graduated from the academy in 2014. He has worked in Patrol, DWI-Traffic Unit and Public Relations Office as a Public Information Officer.

In 2016, he started (President) the first Brotherhood for The Fallen, Fort Worth chapter with the assistance of other officers. This organization attends the funerals of other officers that have been violently killed in the line of duty. In 2018, he has joined the Fort Worth Police Officers (Board of Directors) in 2018. In 2018, he was elected as the Secretary of the Albanian American Cultural Center and oversees one of the largest Coca-Cola account. Part of the responsibilities is to monitor over 500 restaurants that have a Coca-Cola account. In 2019, he recent activity includes opening up a restaurant in North Fort Worth called Café Republic.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Jimmy Pollozani

Jimmy Pollozani was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1980. In 2000, he moved to Fort Worth, Texas with his family and opened up his first restaurant in Keller, Texas. In 2005, he joined the Grapevine Police Department and worked there until 2011. In 2011, he joined the DFW DPS Police Department and worked as a street officer. In 2013, he joined the Fort Worth Police Department and graduated from the academy in 2014. He has worked in Patrol, DWI-Traffic Unit and Public Relations Office as a Public Information Officer.

In 2016, he started (President) the first Brotherhood for The Fallen, Fort Worth chapter with the assistance of other officers. This organization attends the funerals of other officers that have been violently killed in the line of duty. In 2018, he has joined the Fort Worth Police Officers (Board of Directors) in 2018. In 2018, he was elected as the Secretary of the Albanian American Cultural Center and oversees one of the largest Coca-Cola account. Part of the responsibilities is to monitor over 500 restaurants that have a Coca-Cola account. In 2019, he recent activity includes opening up a restaurant in North Fort Worth called Café Republic.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Lew Duckwall is a retired Gunnery Sergeant from the United States Marine Corps. Lew was born and raised in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York. After high school LEW joined the USMC going into the Infantry career field. Lew served multiple tours overseas in Central America and the Middle East.

After being severely wounded in 2002 LEW started a fly fishing program that helps wounded and sick Veterans continue on their path towards recovery and healing. Since 2013 North Texas Patriot Anglers have hosted almost 1700 of our men and woman heroes on their road to better health.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Lew Duckwall

Lew Duckwall is a retired Gunnery Sergeant from the United States Marine Corps. Lew was born and raised in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York. After high school LEW joined the USMC going into the Infantry career field. Lew served multiple tours overseas in Central America and the Middle East.

After being severely wounded in 2002 LEW started a fly fishing program that helps wounded and sick Veterans continue on their path towards recovery and healing. Since 2013 North Texas Patriot Anglers have hosted almost 1700 of our men and woman heroes on their road to better health.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Mr. Patterson was born April 16, 1948 in Carpenter, North Carolina and is the son of Henry C Patterson and Francis E Patterson. He attended Massey Hill High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina and has earned an Associate of Arts Degree in Business Administration from El Paso Community College, El Paso, Texas.

Mr. Patterson entered the U.S. Army, September 21, 1966. He completed Basic Training at Ft Bragg, North Carolina, Advanced Infantry Training at Ft Gordon, Georgia and Jump School at Ft Benning, Georgia. He also attended the 82d Airborne Division Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Academy, Ft Bragg; Third Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Ft McClellan; Drill Sergeant School, Ft Sill; First Sergeant’s Course and Class #26 of the U> S. Army Sergeant Major Academy, Ft Bliss.

Mr. Patterson is a Viet Nam veteran, December 1967 to December 1968, where he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on May 6, 1968. He is also a veteran of the Gulf War, He has served in every leadership position from Team Leader to Command Sergeant Major. He has served with the 82d Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division, 2d Infantry Division, 25th Infantry Division (Light), and the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment. He retired from the Army, after 26 years, as the Command Sergeant Major of the 4th Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, Ft Bliss, Texas.

After retiring from the Army, Mr. Patterson joined the Department of Veterans Affairs on October 5, 1992 and was assigned as a Veterans Benefits Counselor at the VA Regional Office in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He also served as a Military Services Representative at Ft Gordon, Georgia and as an Overseas Military Services Coordinator in England and Italy. Mr. Patterson retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Services Representative at Ft Bragg, North Carolina on February 5, 2010.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, his awards include Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (2d award), Bronze Star (2d award), Purple Heart (3d award) Army Commendation Medal (2d award), Army Achievement Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Drill Sergeant Badge, Viet Nam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star, Kuwait Liberation Medal, and the Southeast Asia Service Medal.

Mr. Patterson has two sons, Anthony and Joseph. He is married to the former Linda S Cottage and has five Step-Daughters, Robin Youngblood, Amy Simpson, Tricia Margrave, Cheryl Stauffer, and Kimberly Williams

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Robert Patterson

Mr. Patterson was born April 16, 1948 in Carpenter, North Carolina and is the son of Henry C Patterson and Francis E Patterson. He attended Massey Hill High School in Fayetteville, North Carolina and has earned an Associate of Arts Degree in Business Administration from El Paso Community College, El Paso, Texas.

Mr. Patterson entered the U.S. Army, September 21, 1966. He completed Basic Training at Ft Bragg, North Carolina, Advanced Infantry Training at Ft Gordon, Georgia and Jump School at Ft Benning, Georgia. He also attended the 82d Airborne Division Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Academy, Ft Bragg; Third Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Ft McClellan; Drill Sergeant School, Ft Sill; First Sergeant’s Course and Class #26 of the U> S. Army Sergeant Major Academy, Ft Bliss.

Mr. Patterson is a Viet Nam veteran, December 1967 to December 1968, where he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on May 6, 1968. He is also a veteran of the Gulf War, He has served in every leadership position from Team Leader to Command Sergeant Major. He has served with the 82d Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division, 2d Infantry Division, 25th Infantry Division (Light), and the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment. He retired from the Army, after 26 years, as the Command Sergeant Major of the 4th Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, Ft Bliss, Texas.

After retiring from the Army, Mr. Patterson joined the Department of Veterans Affairs on October 5, 1992 and was assigned as a Veterans Benefits Counselor at the VA Regional Office in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He also served as a Military Services Representative at Ft Gordon, Georgia and as an Overseas Military Services Coordinator in England and Italy. Mr. Patterson retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs as a Veterans Services Representative at Ft Bragg, North Carolina on February 5, 2010.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, his awards include Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (2d award), Bronze Star (2d award), Purple Heart (3d award) Army Commendation Medal (2d award), Army Achievement Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Drill Sergeant Badge, Viet Nam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star, Kuwait Liberation Medal, and the Southeast Asia Service Medal.

Mr. Patterson has two sons, Anthony and Joseph. He is married to the former Linda S Cottage and has five Step-Daughters, Robin Youngblood, Amy Simpson, Tricia Margrave, Cheryl Stauffer, and Kimberly Williams

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

First Tour:

Arrived June 1969 in Da Nang as a 2/LT  SJA (lawyer) Officer with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing; Left VN in March 1970

2nd Tour:

Arrived 10 November 1970 as Captain and served as an Aerial Observer (AO) with Headquarters Bn, 1st Marine Division.

After Active Duty in the MC reserve:

Joined the  14th Marines in Fort Worth as a Marine Corps reservist in November 1971 and retired as a Colonel, USMCR on June 6, 1998.

After active duty in the civilian world:

Worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Dallas, Texas and worked part time at the SMU Caruth Institute of Owner-Managed Business for a couple of years.  Went out on my own in 1974 as a solo law practitioner specializing in DWI defense.   Have continuously been an Adjunct Professor at the SMU Dedman School of Law since 1976, where I mentor and sit with Criminal Clinic student representing indigent defendants at the Dallas County Criminal Courthouse.

Am now and have always been the Managing Trustee of the Metroplex Military Charitable Trust, which was founded in 1991.  General Carey is the Presiding Trustee.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Mike McCollum

First Tour:

Arrived June 1969 in Da Nang as a 2/LT  SJA (lawyer) Officer with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing; Left VN in March 1970

2nd Tour:

Arrived 10 November 1970 as Captain and served as an Aerial Observer (AO) with Headquarters Bn, 1st Marine Division.

After Active Duty in the MC reserve:

Joined the  14th Marines in Fort Worth as a Marine Corps reservist in November 1971 and retired as a Colonel, USMCR on June 6, 1998.

After active duty in the civilian world:

Worked as an Assistant District Attorney in Dallas, Texas and worked part time at the SMU Caruth Institute of Owner-Managed Business for a couple of years.  Went out on my own in 1974 as a solo law practitioner specializing in DWI defense.   Have continuously been an Adjunct Professor at the SMU Dedman School of Law since 1976, where I mentor and sit with Criminal Clinic student representing indigent defendants at the Dallas County Criminal Courthouse.

Am now and have always been the Managing Trustee of the Metroplex Military Charitable Trust, which was founded in 1991.  General Carey is the Presiding Trustee.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Fritz earned a degree in elementary education from the University of Tampa, joined the Army from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1966, and by January 11, 1969 was serving as a First Lieutenant in Troop A, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. During a firefight on that day, in Bình Long Province, Republic of Vietnam, Fritz showed conspicuous leadership despite being seriously wounded. He was subsequently promoted to Captain and awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Fritz reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring from the Army after 27 years of service. He currently lives in Peoria, Illinois, and works there at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Bob Michel Outpatient clinic.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Hal Fritz

Fritz earned a degree in elementary education from the University of Tampa, joined the Army from Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1966, and by January 11, 1969 was serving as a First Lieutenant in Troop A, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. During a firefight on that day, in Bình Long Province, Republic of Vietnam, Fritz showed conspicuous leadership despite being seriously wounded. He was subsequently promoted to Captain and awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Fritz reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring from the Army after 27 years of service. He currently lives in Peoria, Illinois, and works there at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Bob Michel Outpatient clinic.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Aubrey Bruce Stacy was born and raised in Malvern. He is a 1966 graduate of Henderson with bachelor of arts degree in sociology and history. He earned an M.B.A. at Georgia State University and a M.M.A.S. in strategy at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is also an Army master parachutist with 78 jumps.

Stacy served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. His assignments include two combat infantry tours in Vietnam, two mechanized infantry tours at Fort Hood, Texas, and two tours as a paratroop officer and jumpmaster at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He commanded two rifle companies and was operations officer for three battalions and two brigades.

After two years as executive officer of the largest NATO combat brigade in Germany, his final assignment was as chairman and professor of military science at Texas Christian University.

Stacy then began a career in financial services where he was director for UBS PaineWebber and senior vice president for Morgan Stanley. While still on leave from the military, Stacy established himself as a financial consultant with Merrill Lynch in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. Recruited into the Prudential Securities Branch Manager Leadership Program, his initial branch assignment was Knoxville, Tennessee. He was again recruited to UBS PaineWebber as a complex manager for Roanoke-Lynchburg, Virginia, with follow-up assignments to manage Austin-Lubbock, Texas, and Lafayette-Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Stacy was recognized by “On Wall Street” magazine as the financial services industry Branch Manager of the Year for 2008 and 2009. His final branch manager position was with Morgan Stanley in their Fort Worth-Southlake, Texas, operation.

Stacy retired in 2014 after 25 years in financial services to spend more time with his wife Carolyn, travel, hunt, and mentor his six grandchildren, all living in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Bruce Stacy

Aubrey Bruce Stacy was born and raised in Malvern. He is a 1966 graduate of Henderson with bachelor of arts degree in sociology and history. He earned an M.B.A. at Georgia State University and a M.M.A.S. in strategy at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is also an Army master parachutist with 78 jumps.

Stacy served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. His assignments include two combat infantry tours in Vietnam, two mechanized infantry tours at Fort Hood, Texas, and two tours as a paratroop officer and jumpmaster at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He commanded two rifle companies and was operations officer for three battalions and two brigades.

After two years as executive officer of the largest NATO combat brigade in Germany, his final assignment was as chairman and professor of military science at Texas Christian University.

Stacy then began a career in financial services where he was director for UBS PaineWebber and senior vice president for Morgan Stanley. While still on leave from the military, Stacy established himself as a financial consultant with Merrill Lynch in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. Recruited into the Prudential Securities Branch Manager Leadership Program, his initial branch assignment was Knoxville, Tennessee. He was again recruited to UBS PaineWebber as a complex manager for Roanoke-Lynchburg, Virginia, with follow-up assignments to manage Austin-Lubbock, Texas, and Lafayette-Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Stacy was recognized by “On Wall Street” magazine as the financial services industry Branch Manager of the Year for 2008 and 2009. His final branch manager position was with Morgan Stanley in their Fort Worth-Southlake, Texas, operation.

Stacy retired in 2014 after 25 years in financial services to spend more time with his wife Carolyn, travel, hunt, and mentor his six grandchildren, all living in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Officer Graciano “Buddy” Calzada has been with the Fort Worth Police Department going on 5 years. In that time he has worked in Patrol, 2 years in DWI and currently works in the Office of the Chief of Police as one of the Fort Worth Police Department Public Information Officers.

He was awarded the “Hero Enforcement Award” from MADD for having 157 DWI arrests in 2018 alone.

He has earned 11 Fort Worth PD commendations, the Community Relations Builder Award for his 27 years of service to the inner-city and The Commitment to the Hispanic Community Award from the United Hispanic Council of Tarrant County.

He was also acknowledged as the 2019 Officer of the Year from the Fort Worth Optimist Club.

Officer Calzada is a certified TCOLE instructor and Field Training Officer.

Prior to his years in law enforcement, Officer Calzada served as the Executive Director of Fort Worth Metro, a non-proift that works with inner city families and community relations here in Fort Worth.

He and his wife Ruth have served this non-profit for 27 years and have been married for 22 of those years.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Buddy Calzada

Officer Graciano “Buddy” Calzada has been with the Fort Worth Police Department going on 5 years. In that time he has worked in Patrol, 2 years in DWI and currently works in the Office of the Chief of Police as one of the Fort Worth Police Department Public Information Officers.

He was awarded the “Hero Enforcement Award” from MADD for having 157 DWI arrests in 2018 alone.

He has earned 11 Fort Worth PD commendations, the Community Relations Builder Award for his 27 years of service to the inner-city and The Commitment to the Hispanic Community Award from the United Hispanic Council of Tarrant County.

He was also acknowledged as the 2019 Officer of the Year from the Fort Worth Optimist Club.

Officer Calzada is a certified TCOLE instructor and Field Training Officer.

Prior to his years in law enforcement, Officer Calzada served as the Executive Director of Fort Worth Metro, a non-proift that works with inner city families and community relations here in Fort Worth.

He and his wife Ruth have served this non-profit for 27 years and have been married for 22 of those years.

Attending with Service Operations Support (SOS)

Contact Helicopters for Heroes

Thank you for visiting the Helicopters for Heroes website. To learn more about our nonprofit organization, or to share your questions or comments, please email us using this form. To speak with a volunteer from Helicopters for Heroes immediately, call 469-772-0258.

  • All fields are required. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
X