Sunday, January 30, 2011

Soldiers Angels and Living Legends

Here is a wonderful organization that all of us can join. Former Wichita Countian and my great friend, Chris (Campbell) Knowles, is a big part of it. Please go to the following website for more information:

Soldiers' Angels Network
" May no soldier go unloved. May no soldier walk alone. May no soldier be forgotten. Until they all come home."

An article about Soldiers' Angels support via our Living Legends team. What is Living Legends?

The Living Legends team conducts one of the most delicate and demanding missions of Soldiers' Angels: comforting the loved ones left behind when a warrior falls on the battlefield. Our goal is to make sure families and friends of America's fallen heroes know that they are supported and that their loved ones' sacrifices are honored and respected.


Within days after Army Spc. Shane (Hasan) Ahmed was killed in war in Afghanistan, Bedford North Lawrence High School Director of Guidance Becky Sprinkle was surprised by the mail she began receiving. Sprinkle had been quoted in the Times-Mail in November as part of a story reporting on Ahmad's death just a few days earlier.

"After the article came out, I started to receive these cards and letters from all over the United States," Becky told me, explaining she had received about a dozen pieces of mail.

"Because I was quoted as a friend of the family, I started to receive these. ... I knew it had to be an Internet or a Facebook kind of situation."

The cards and letters have come from an organization called Soldiers' Angels.

"According to what I found on their website, they send packages to active military (members)," Becky said. "A small part of what they do is send letters and cards to families of fallen soldiers. ... They were sent to me, and I'm hoping they were also sent to his family."

But, Becky hasn't been able to talk to Ahmed's family and is hoping to reach them.

Ahmed graduated from BNL in 1997 and then went to Purdue University. He joined the Army in April 2007. But, along the way, the family had moved to Michigan.

Becky and many others who knew the family lost contact.

Becky's interest in talking to Ahmed's family isn't limited to wanting to make sure they see the Soldiers' Angels correspondence. She also wants to let them know of her hopes to see a local tribute established, not only for Ahmed, but also for U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Brian Lane, the other former BNL student killed in active duty.

Becky said she hopes to create a wall of fame at the high school to honor Ahmed and Lane.

Her effort coincides with the approaching 20th anniversary of Lane's death in Iraq. He was killed in the ground war on Feb. 25, 1991. His parents didn't learn of his death until the night of Feb. 27, which was the same night President George Bush announced a cease fire.

On March 8, Day & Carter Mortuary was filled to overflowing with more than 400 people who came to pay their respects and say farewell to Brian Lane. Marines in full dress uniform — white caps, brass-buttoned black jackets and blue trousers — stood at parade rest along one wall of the mortuary as did 150 mourners who could not find seats. A Bedford city street later was named for him.

"I knew both soldiers personally through school," Becky said. "I just felt like there needed to be a tribute of some kind."

As Sprinkle works toward establishing that tribute, she also hopes to communicate with Ahmed's family to pass along the Soldiers' Angels cards and letters. "I have been holding on to these and I plan to forward them to the family as soon as they get in touch with me," Becky said. She has approached the funeral home that served the Ahmed family about helping her connect with his parents or his widow, Eva Vasquez of Lebanon, Tenn.

The cards Becky are intended to comfort the family.

One Soldier's Angel, Dr. Chris Knowles, wrote, "Know (that) Spc. Ahmed will always be remembered as an American hero for his sacrifice while serving his nation."

Casey Cloud wrote, "I cannot imagine what you must be experiencing at this time. What I do know is that Hasan was a wonderful, strong, honorable person. He used those strengths to become the brave soldier that he was."

Margaret Gore wrote, "We spread our wings to comfort your community in the loss of Shane Ahmed. This world is a lesser place because he is not among us.

Reading his life story, he was a true hero who gave his life for our freedom."


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