We can all help Carry The Load
Carry The Load is a non-profit dedicated to providing active ways to honor and celebrate our nation's heroes by connecting Americans to the sacrifices made by military, veterans, first responders and their families.
I plan to remember, honor, and celebrate our nation's heroes by participating in the Memorial Day event and fundraising. Please join Team Dignity! Together, we can make a difference. There is a National Relay beginning the end of April into May. You don’t have to be a veteran or first responder to participate - anyone can join in this effort to Carry The Load. You don’t have to walk the entire route, so you can walk in a single 4-5 mile increment (so it doesn’t need to be a taxing event).
This year, I plan on walking during the Day 6/Tuesday April 28th relay portion through Sacramento and would love to have teammates join me and our team captain Tom Fenyoe. Even if it’s for one leg only, I promise you it is more rewarding than you can imagine.
If you can’t join us but you would like to donate, that would be outstanding! Last year alone, Carry The Load supporters and sponsors raised more than $2.5 million during this event to benefit their programs of Awareness, Continuum of Care, and Education.
My Personal Web Log
SFC David A. Hartman - July 17, 2004
Dave Hartman was a great guy. I never met anyone who didn't like or respect him. I served with him in the 182nd in Traverse City, Michigan, including our time in Desert Storm. We were primarily a petroleum hauling unit hauling 5K, 7.5K, tankers of diesel, jet A, JP4, and gas. We hauled to forward units, bag farms, and even to the ports to fuel ships and tugs. But we also hauled any equipment that needed to be moved. We had a great company of men and women active reservists that just got stuff done - you call, we haul, that's all.
We started out in Saudi, and made our way into Kuwait, Iraq and other lovely tourist destinations in the sandbox. For some reason, the strategy was to have us forward deployed in front of other units in a strategy that seemed questionable, but it did pay off. Anyway, I wanted to share a short story with you about him.
We were in Saudi (or it could've been Iraq we were so far off paved roads), and I had navigated through the desert and rejoined the convoy after spending the night with a unit from Mississippi where I traded a fire hose for some food and parts to fix my truck. I had been having electrical problems and the lights had not been working. When I met the convoy, Dave and Kelly, helped me turn my truck around in the desert so I could avoid all the cluster bombs lying around. After sharing some of the food I had gotten, we rested for about an hour until we got the order to head back to our unit. Our route would be hard pan desert and we were to travel at night along an established convoy route.
No big deal, right? Yes, except that my lights and all electrical systems in the truck weren't working again. I told Dave, and he paused for a minute knowing that he didn't want to leave me behind, and then he said, no problem. He, Kelly and Ron would make sure I was OK on the convoy. Dave would drive ahead of me with his lights guiding me and making sure that passing vehicles wouldn't drift over to my side and take me out. Kelly was in back of me, and Ron was in Front making sure the way was safe. We passed a number of convoys, fuel haulers, bobtails, tanks on equipment haulers, and tanks running by themselves, and even though I couldn't see anything but Dave's tail lights and the vehicles passing closely by me on the side, I knew I was going to be OK.
And I was. It was about an 8 hour trip, and when we reached the hardball, I didn't have a scratch on the truck. It was because of Dave, that I make it OK. I don't know why I wanted to share that with you, but I just felt that I wanted you to have someone else's opinion about what a great person Dave was.
God bless, and I do include Dave's memory in every Memorial Day ceremony we have as a family.
Army Sgt. 1st Class David A. Hartman Died July 17, 2004 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom SFC David Hartman 41, of Akron, Mich.; assigned to 401st Transportation Company, Army Reserve, Battle Creek, Mich.; killed July 17 when the vehicle he was driving was hit by an improvised explosive device in Bayji, Iraq. David A. Hartman was a 21-year veteran of the military and a dedicated family man. "My brother was a family man, a hard worker, very dedicated to the military. It was his job," said Bill Hartman. "He was one of those people you could call and you could count on being there when you called." Hartman, 41, of Akron, Mich., was killed July 17 when the vehicle he was driving was hit by an explosive device in Beiji, Iraq. He was based at Battle Creek, Mich. A truck driver for an agricultural company in civilian life, Hartman was a veteran of the first Gulf War. His brother said he developed Gulf War Syndrome and could have asked for a medical discharge. "But he didn't try to get out," Bill Hartman said. "When he saw all the people who were going over there, he told me he wanted to join them, and lead by example." .
In the military, he was a transportation supervisor and platoon leader, assigned to the Army Reserve's 401st Transportation Company out of Battle Creek. He had served 21 years in the military, his brother said. We're a military family, he said. My father was in the Marine Corps, and so was I. He had a sense of duty to his country, when they called, he went. He didn't hesitate. Hartman had been in Iraq since February and was due to come home on leave in two weeks, his brother said. We were expecting him to come home, but we weren't expecting this, he said.
Betty McGee, Hartman's teacher and counselor at Akron-Fairgrove High School, remembered him as a really terrific father and terrific person. I also had his daughter, who graduated (this) year. He would always call to make sure she stayed on the right track. He really cared about his daughter.
He joined the Army on August 24, 1982. He had a career that spanned 22 full years of service. The Army has awarded him the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart posthumously His other awards and decorations include, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (2nd Award), Meritorious Unit Commendation (2nd Award), Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (2nd Award), National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Kuwait Liberation Medal (SA), Southwest Asia Service Medal with 3rd Bronze service star. Armed Forces Reserve Medal W/M Device (2nd Award), Global Was on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 3, Army Service Ribbon and the Driver/Mechanic Badge.He leaves behind a wife, Robbin; a 21-year-old son, Benjamin; and an 18-year-old daughter, Heather.
by William Weber on Sat, Feb 15, 2020 @ 9:01 PM
Sgt Kenneth Ford - April 5th, 1986 Part 2
Along with his physical prowess, Ford impressed the other soldiers with his facility in German. "It took him only about two or three months to learn the language," says Sgt. Wilson Nuņez. "He'd sit and hold a conversation with any German for two or three hours at a time. I guess he taught himself so he could talk to the women." His talk must have been good because he was soon dating two or three girlfriends. "I couldn't keep track of which one was which," says Nuņez. "Every time he came over to my house, he'd have a different girl. I never dared call them by name in case I got it wrong."
Ford loved girls and he loved soul music (Luther Vandross was a favorite) and he loved to dance. Nearly every night that he was off duty, he would get spiffed up--he was especially proud of his white disco suit--have a few drinks with the guys at the bar on the Army base, where the booze is cheap, and then go to La Belle, a popular West Berlin disco and nightclub, to strut his stuff on the dance floor.
On Friday, April 4, Ford had a free weekend and a fresh haircut, and he was primed to party. La Belle was running a dance contest, and Bip had to be there. Around 5:30 p.m. Ford and Sgt. James Goins visited the barracks room of Sgt. Anthony Poole, who says he was "as close as a brother" to Ford. The three soldiers started sipping cognac and shooting the breeze. They discussed the Army, basketball, women and the latest disco dance crazes. "We were talking about snaking and doing the tree and all," Poole remembers, "and I asked him what he thought he would be doing in five or six years. He said he didn't know." There were no such doubts about the plans for that evening. "We were going out there," Poole says, "to rock the town."
At around 10 o'clock Ford and Goins returned to their quarters to change into party clothes. For these two, that was a process that sometimes took a couple of hours. Poole didn't want to wait that long, so he departed alone, taking a taxi to a West Berlin bar. He never saw Kenneth Ford again. Someone had visited La Belle before Ford, leaving a few pounds of high explosives near the dance floor. Just before 2 a.m. on April 5, a blast ripped the disco apart. Goins was among those injured. Killed were a young Turkish woman and Sgt. Kenneth Terrance Ford.
"They had to do extensive work on his face, a lot of wax and makeup," says his mother. "His face was badly burned from the explosion. I'm glad the Lord took him because he wouldn't have wanted to live like that--to suffer and not be able to do anything."
Mrs. Beecham is sitting on her floral sofa, looking at a mantel decorated with Kenny's childhood sports trophies. Photos of her three children, each in cap and gown, hang on the wall. High school graduation is a proud achievement in an area where the dropout rate is about 50 percent. On the door is a sticker that reads "Warning: This house is protected by Jesus Christ." Mrs. Beecham says, "Kenny's death happened for a reason: to wake America up. We're sleeping at dangerous times. Hopefully his death is not in vain....He deserves to be recognized." She speaks of his last letter, which she received three days after his death. "He wrote, 'Be patient with me, Mom. God is not through yet. I have always taken care of you and I always will.' He was so close to coming back. He couldn't make it for Easter but he said he'd be home by this weekend. And he was."
On Saturday, April 12, he returned to the Flowery Mount Baptist Church, where he'd sung so often in the choir. The red-carpeted, white-walled church was filled, and 150 people stood outside listening to the funeral services over a loudspeaker. "There was always something special about Kenny," said Deacon Daniel Moore, the pastor's son, in his eulogy. "He loved everybody. I never saw him angry. We were in the church together, and we played ball together. He was like the brother I never had and the son I hope I have. When he was little, he'd pray for the kids who were getting in trouble, going in the wrong direction. There is something special about a child praying for another child."
After the emotional 90-minute funeral service, 30 cars followed the gray hearse in a long, slow procession to Forest Hill Cemetery. Alice Beecham sprinkled a handful of crushed flowers on her son's coffin, and others stepped forward to add single flowers. Jeffrey McPherson, a Spec. 4 stationed at Fort Sheridan, Ill., lifted his bugle and played a mournful Taps.
Three days later, early in the morning, after the air raid on Libya, a weary and grieving Alice Beecham opens her door in a peach nightgown. "I was sorry it happened," she says of the raid. "But you do what you have to do. Gaddafi took lives. You can't stand back and let him do it. I don't think the President did it because of Kenny. That might have made it happen more quickly. It was time, that's all."
Alice feels that her son would have approved. "He loved the Army. He would have been for it. He was a real soldier, and he would want to stand up for what we believe in."
by William Weber on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 @ 12:59 AM
Sgt Kenneth Ford - April 5th, 1986 Part 1
I wanted to share a little something about Sgt Ford with you. We were both from Michigan, we were both Scouts and in the same platoon in Berlin together, but I did not go with him that night. SSG Goins did go with him. SSG Goins was also a Scout in the same platoon. SSG also died from his injuries - only he died later after fighting as hard as he could to stay alive. I know all the soldiers referenced in the article - they are the finest people on earth and I still trust them with my life. The info below is from People magazine, and there are some mistakes in the article, but it does help you understand a little more about Sgt Ford the person, and he was so much more than that. This year as I carry Sgt Ford with me, I only hope he know that, and I hope somewhere his family knows that.
The earth was still fresh on the young GI's grave when, in the predawn darkness of April 15, 33 Navy and Air Force jets screamed over the Mediterranean toward Libya. For the first time, America was using its awesome military power to strike back at terrorists. "When our citizens are abused or attacked anywhere in the world, we will respond," President Reagan said. "If necessary, we shall do it again." The action was not without cost: Two fliers, Capts. Fernando Ribas-Dominicci, 33, and Paul Lorence, 31, were reported missing after the bombing strike, international relations were strained, and the long-term repercussions were yet to be reckoned. But in the U.S. there was wide support for the raid, thanks to what the President called "direct, precise and irrefutable evidence" of Col. Muammar Gaddafi's involvement in a terrorist outrage, the bombing of a discotheque in West Berlin. The blast left 230 people injured and two dead, including Sgt. Kenneth Ford. His life was just the latest lost to terror, but this time the crime would not go unanswered. To this life, attention would be paid. This is the story of Sergeant Ford.
Ken Ford was, in many ways, an all-American kid. He came not from a rich or prominent family but from one whose values were grounded in home and church. He wasn't a top-grade athlete, but he tried hard and he loved sports. He respected his elders, but he loved to make jokes, some funny, some groaners. He was no straight-A student, but he finished his schooling and was always trying to better himself. "When he was 6 years old," recalls his mother, "he said, 'When I'm 35, I'm going to be President.' He was a special kind of kid, encouraging other kids to get involved with church and school. He was curious about everything. At times, he seemed older than his age."
Kenny Ford grew up in the tough, black working-class neighborhood of northwest Detroit, son of Robert Beecham, 43, an auto worker, and Alice Ford Beecham, 41, a housewife who once worked for a company that manufactured contact lenses. "I guess I brought the kids up kind of strict," she says. "They had chores to do--dishes, cut the grass, wash walls. Kenny never complained. I used to come home from work and Kenny would have the furniture in the living room all rearranged. He loved to surprise me."
At the center of the family's life was the Flowery Mount Baptist Church, where Kenny, his parents and younger brother and sister attended services two or three times a week. Kenny sang in the choir, achieving something of a reputation as a cut-up and a comedian. "He was a comical guy," says his pastor, the Rev. Floyd Moore. "He cracked a lot of jokes and carried on a lot of foolishness. But he let people know when it was over. He knew when to play and when to cut it off for business." He was, in fact, quite serious about his Christianity, and he wasn't afraid to show it. He was a deacon in the church at 17, visiting the sick, helping to plan parties and picnics. "He was the kind of guy who could talk about Jesus on the street and nobody would make fun of him," says Rufus "Poochie" Morton, 18, who once played on a Little League team coached by Ford. "He wasn't perfect, but he treated people good. He'd see younger guys fighting and he'd come between them. I remember him telling me, 'Stay on weights [bodybuilding], hit the books, stick with it and everything will be fine.' "
Although he was small for the game--he never grew taller than 5'6″--Kenny Ford was mad for basketball. He liked to challenge big guys to games of one-on-one. A lot of times he lost but he was never discouraged. He played one season on the high school team but didn't make the varsity. "He wasn't a super-ballplayer," says his recreation league coach, Charlie Tucker, "but he was a super-person."
Ford attended Detroit's Cooley High, a predominantly black school. His friends called him "Bip"--a nickname he earned for his quick, aggressive play on the basketball court. He was one of the most popular boys in school one of those kids who is sometimes late for class because he's too busy socializing in the halls. An average student, Bip excelled at high school high jinks. "He was wild and crazy, very playful," says Odessa Jones, 22. "He'd have water-balloon fights, put tacks on chairs, throw paper wads. He used to come up behind girls, pick them up and carry them down the hall."
When Bip graduated in June 1982, Detroit had hit its nadir, the auto industry sunk into depression. With no money for college and no job prospects, he decided on the Army. "He just wanted to be something," says his father. "The job market was so poor. He didn't want to stay here and do nothing. He joined the Army to make something of himself. It could get him an education and pay for college. He was a young man determined to go as far as he could."
Ford began his Army career in September 1982, training at Fort Benning, Ga. After a stint at Fort Ord, Calif., he was sent in September 1984 to West Berlin. A month later he won a post in the elite scout platoon that patrols the Berlin Wall. After his promotion to sergeant in August of last year, he commanded a squad of five other men who patrolled in two jeeps, each mounted with an M60 machine gun. "He just loved that patrol," recalls Spec. 4 Rodney Williams, 21, of Columbus, Ohio. "He'd stand up behind the gun because he liked the attention. He called it 'the Hollywood ride.' "
Ford's military flamboyance even won him some ink in a December 1985 issue of the Berlin Observer, a weekly Army newspaper. "Some of the Motor City slickness shows up in his brash style," wrote reporter David Porreca. "...While everyone else keeps their billy clubs in the front of the jeeps, he sticks his in his flak jacket, where the protruding handle gives him an outlaw look. Ford is loose, ready for action...Behind that machine gun, he looks just plain mean."
Those looks were deceiving. "He was real easygoing," says Sgt. Frederick Whitcomb of Kansas City, Kans. "He'd laugh and joke and more or less make your day." He not only won raves from his peers and subordinates, he also impressed the brass. "Sergeant Ford was one of the best soldiers I ever saw," says his company commander, Capt. Donald Miller of Belton, Mo. "He was the fittest man in the battalion. We have a physical training test and Ford scored the highest in the battalion. He was also the coach of the basketball team. He was only about 5'6 but his shoulders were three feet wide, with a waist that looked about 20 inches."
-----Continued in Part 2------
by William Weber on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 @ 12:55 AM
Who am I carrying the load for?
Who are you carrying?
Many American Heroes.
That's a really tough question for me to answer. It's personal, it cuts deep into who I am and the pain I feel every day, and it's something that I usually only talk about with my family or my brothers in arms. And even when I do talk about it - I have a hard time really getting to the level of really talking about it if you know what I mean.
I am carrying the load for these men, these brothers, so that I never forget them, the world never forgets them and their sacrifice, and because it's the least I can do for them and their families.
SGT Kenneth Ford - April 5, 1986
SSG James E. Goins - June 7, 1986
PFC Albert G Rehrig Jr. - November 27, 1986
PFC J.R. Morast - May 10, 1987
SGT Kelly Lynn Matthews - March 25, 1991
MAJ Andrew Scott Burris - June 13, 1997
1SG Terry Eugene Ramsey - September 5, 2003
SFC David A. Hartman - July 17, 2004
SFC Thomas James Napieralski - March 26, 2015
by William Weber on Sun, Feb 09, 2020 @ 9:33 AM
This page has only been up for a day as I write this, but there have already been page views, and donations. Thank you!!! For those that donate and wish to remain anonymous, I won't ever know who donated, but thank you for your support of First Responders and our Military Veterans. I deeply and sincerely appreciate it. We're all in this together - we might as well pull in the same direction...
by William Weber on Fri, Feb 07, 2020 @ 8:16 AM
Why are you walking in a Memorial Day event in April?
That's a great question, and I was asked that same question by a friend.
Carry The Load Memorial March Relay has 4 different routes across the country allowing the entire United States to participate in one of the legs of the relay. All routes finish in Dallas, Texas on Sunday May 24th. The 4 routes are West Coast, Mountain States, Midwest, and East Coast. The West Coast is the longest route at 4,600 miles.
That is why I'm walking April 28th in Sacramento as my part of the relay.
Start Seattle Thursday April 23
Finish Dallas Sunday May 24
Distance 4,600 miles
Some of the stops along the way that help bring awareness to those First Responders and Military persons serving or having served us: Fire Departments, Police Departments, Fire and Rescue Organizations, Volunteer Fire Departments, National Cemeteries, and Military Detachments.
The relay also has stops at locations that support the relay and organizations that help their communities: Goodwill locations, Salvation Army locations, Universities, Churches, Lowes, Home Depot, Target, and Walmart to name a few. The relay will also stop at a number of Memorial Parks, and a Presidential Library.
Here is how the West Coast Relay Route is described by Carry The Load:
The West Coast route of Carry The Load's National Relay begins high in the Pacific Northwest at Victor Steinbrueck Park in Seattle's historic Pike Place Market neighborhood. Much like the East Coast route, it's hard to overstate the beauty of the West Coast journey passing through the gorgeous architecture within the University of Oregon; the monumental mountains of Burney, CA; the vines of Napa; the Golden Gate Bridge; the flash of Hollywood; the lights of Vegas; the painted desert of Arizona; and the white sands of New Mexico before its final 13day stretch through West and South Texas.
So, someone has to do their part in April, so we can get there at the end of May...Team Dignity answered the call!
by William Weber on Fri, Feb 07, 2020 @ 8:08 AM
I'm lucky to be a dad of 8 wonderful children. I was fortunate to marry the smartest, kindest, most compassionate, and most beautiful woman I could find and she has a great sense of humor!
I served in the United States Army for 12 years as an 11B in a Recon Platoon, and for part of that time in the active Army Reserves as an 88M in a Fuel Hauling Unit. I served in Berlin, Fort Ord, Fort Stewart, and spent some time in the sandbox in Saudi, Iraq, and other lovely vacation destinations.
After I got out of the service, it was hard to adapt to civilian life, and there weren't a lot of outreach programs or helping hands at that time and practically nothing where I was living. It's a lot better now. Anyway, years later, I became a member of the VFW (VFW Post 10789) and it helped me relate to other people like me. Then, we started a group of VFW members who would walk each Sunday together. Those walks grew into a brotherhood of healing and camaraderie, and eventually we started to raise money to help others by participating as a team in different marching/walking events.
The largest event we did together, and the post still sends a team to, is the Bataan Memorial Death March. This event honors the memory of, and the sacrifices of those heroes that were subjected to the inhuman actual Bataan Death March. Most of those warriors died very few survived. Of those that lived, some attend the memorial march each year, and I've been lucky to meet them a true honor.
Anyway, just the simple act of reaching out and having someone there to grab your hand made all the difference for me. And from that, it gave me the inspiration to take that first step...that led to another...and before I knew it, I had completed the 26.2 mile Bataan Memorial Death March in White Sands, New Mexico with a 45 pound rucksack.
We can all help carry the load!
by William Weber on Thu, Feb 06, 2020 @ 6:49 PM
Why am I a member of Team Dignity?
This all began for me 10 years ago when I started working for what was then Catholic Healthcare West. Eventually, we grew and became Dignity Health. As part of the change in our name, we continued to hold on to what was core to our organization - our values. Our core values are simple, easily understood, powerful, and align so well with my own values...well, that's why I'm still part of Dignity Health as we've combined with Catholic Health Initiatives to form CommonSpirit Health. So, here are the core values of Dignity Health that we continue to live day in and day out:
Dignity Health is committed to providing high-quality, affordable health care to the communities we serve. Above all else we value:
Dignity - Respecting the inherent value and worth of each person.
Collaboration - Working together with people who support common values and vision to achieve shared goals.
Justice - Advocating for social change and acting in ways that promote respect for all persons and demonstrate compassion for our sisters and brothers who are powerless.
Stewardship - Cultivating the resources entrusted to us to promote healing and wholeness.
Excellence - Exceeding expectations through teamwork and innovation.
That is why I am a member of Team Dignity!
by William Weber on Thu, Feb 06, 2020 @ 5:14 PM
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