Elvis was in the room! Perhaps for one of the last times of this conflict series in Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain “Elvis" Woody performed for the audience at Walter Reed-Bethesda. The response was truly inspiring for all in attendance. Members of Project Enduring Pride’s staff and a huge turnout from the NYFD aided in bringing a “down home Christmas” to the some 64 wounded warriors still at Walter Reed. Adding an equal number of family members and returning “Alumni”, we felt this was one of the best events of the year, reaching out to wounded and injured service members. For many of the wounded, their departure from the military was imminent; however, they stayed around to bid us a farewell before they return to their hometowns or new communities to continue their healing process.
Jack Slattery, General Manager of the Warrior Café took it upon himself to organize his staff to design and prepare a luncheon that was well appreciated by all. From PEP to Jack, fly the broom Jack, a clean sweep in all categories of Host!! Well done to you and your staff.
For NYFD and PEP this was our tenth year in hosting the celebration of the holiday season. As we like to say, being politically incorrect, “Merry Christmas to all”!
More than 20 volunteers descended on Arlington National Cemetery this year to honor our dead from battle and other causes. This annual event brought out more than 15 PEP volunteers who braved the cold and long hours to decorate some 3,000 graves of our nation’s service members. PEP put wreaths on Major Walter Reed’s grave; Chick Burlingame’s (Flight 77 Command Pilot); SGM Jon Caviani’s (MOH and POW); and many more in the “Garden of stone”. The areas serviced by PEP were areas 35, 60, and 15.
This year some 4,000 wreaths were sent in from Maine and more than enough were available for the public to distribute. PEP purchased an additional 24 wreaths that were not needed so additional gravesites in Fairfax City Cemetery was serviced by the PEP volunteers, many of them Confederate soldiers from the battles around Fairfax Court House. Planners at PEP are looking forward to including December 2015 in the annual efforts of the Volunteers, however, they plan to include several Wounded Warriors among the wreath laying volunteers.