Hello and thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself and explain why I’m committed to serving wounded warriors through Jeep Sullivan’s Outdoor Adventures (JSOA).
From a very young age, I always wanted to fly and become a fighter pilot. After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 1990, I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and immediately entered pilot training. My dream of becoming a fighter pilot was realized when I pinned on my wings on September 13, 1991. I served for over 25 years as an F-15C fighter pilot in various assignments across the globe, rising to the rank of Colonel. I deployed to several locations during combat operations including Iraq and Afghanistan.
In June, 1996, while deployed in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, my fighter squadron was attacked by a group of terrorists who exploded a truck bomb outside of our compound. The initial blast killed 12 members of my squadron, including my crew chief, Senior Airman Brian McVeigh. I was wounded in the left shoulder by glass shrapnel and hurtled across my bedroom by the explosion. In the aftermath I helped evacuate one of my friends down seven flights of stairs while he bled from an arterial leg wound. I can remember vividly the difficulty we had carrying him down the stairs because of the volume of blood he was losing. Luckily, we were met by a triage team who treated and saved the life of my friend. I tell you this story in order for you to understand how I am connected to wounded warriors. My Purple Heart looks the same as those of my friends who lost their lives, but mine carries a responsibility to remember the fallen and to help those who remain behind. Enter Jeep Sullivan.
Jeep and I became acquainted through a mutual friend and developed a friendship and later, a brotherhood. I believe his first wounded warrior adventure was several years ago when Jeep hosted me and my brother on a hunt in the Ogalala Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. You see, Gunnery Sergeant Brian Dye, my little brother, is also a wounded warrior. He was wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device during the second battle of Fallujah, Iraq in 2004. This outdoor adventure was one of the seminal events in development of JSOA.
Over the last several years, what started as a few fishing trips or an airboat ride has turned into a nationally recognized service organization dedicated to meeting the needs of wounded warriors and their families. This year, Jeep and a small army of volunteers will provide outdoor adventures for over 70 warriors! JSOA is funded through local fundraising events and individual contributions. We are diligent with our budget and all financial contributions are strictly audited by an independent agency in order to maintain a 503(c) tax status.
In my opinion the biggest benefit of JSOA is the one I get for being a small part of a great cause. I have personally witnessed life-changing events where lives have been changed. I’ve seen a double amputee in the depths of depression get a new lease on life when he regained his spirit after a successful outdoor adventure. I’ve seen an impromptu group therapy session around a pickup truck result in the mending of a broken marriage. I’m a direct witness to multiple warriors stating publicly how grateful they are to have been involved with JSOA.
I’m 100% ALL IN for JSOA. This is truly a worthy cause, worth every bit of the time and treasure I’ve put into it. I’m proud to know Jeep and honored to have a small part in the work done by JSOA.