Mr. Speaker, while patrolling the blue South Pacific seas, two American Stallion helicopters collided off the coast of Hawaii. It was January 14, 2016. Twelve U.S. Marines on board perished. Despite rescue efforts by air and sea, the Marines were never found. Their watery graves are only known to God.
Major Shawn Campbell, 41, and Corporal Matthew Drown, 23, were Texas’ own. In the aftermath of this tragic loss, the military community banded together, ready to support the family who had just experienced one of the most traumatic moments that a young family can possibly be faced with.
The U.S. military always takes care of its own. That is one reason why our warriors, and their families make the U.S. Military the best in the world. In particular, Kalie Rhodes and her mothers group (Mothers of Preschoolers) quickly sprang into action, ready to lend a hand and shoulder to those who were distraught by tragedy.
The MOPS meet twice a month, joining together in fellowship to connect and learning different parenting and life skills. Katie is the wife of Captain Johnathan Rhodes, a 2002 graduate of Kingwood High School and 2006 graduate of West Point.
Kalie and her team provided support for the visiting families of the missing Marines. They not only prepared meals and cared for some of the smaller children, they also bought and distributed a wide variety of gift cards for food, gas and clothing.
The support and encouragement from MOPS and Kalie to the families of those killed is impressive. As the search continued John Hedley’s (USMA ’68) Veterans coffee shop in NC donated over $500 and Craig Carson’s (USMA ’68) company in Indiana donated over $5,000.
The Military community never stops supporting each other. We were shown this once again as the Wingman Foundation (ex-Naval and Marine aviators) served as a clearing house for the monetary donations and reimbursed the moms for out-of-pocket expenses.
In addition, they donated $50,000 to the families. Furthermore, the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund (USMA ’86) has provided scholarships for all the children of the deceased Marines. This scholarship program for the kids of the fallen Marines is commendable and inspiring. This is an excellent way to take care of those that have lost a parent.
The fallen Marines were honorably doing their duty, taking care of America. Now Americans are returning the favor by taking care of those military families. These individuals who spring to action, ready to help at a moment’s notice are fiercely patriotic. They are the backbone of a rare breed—the American breed that protects us.
And that is just the way it is.