THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
If you have made it this far then thank you!
1 - Please click the blue box to the right that says “DONATE NOW”
2- Remember, no donation is too big or small, something as simple as $5, 5, $10, $15, $20 or more can help the TAPS Organization reach their goal.
3- After making your generous donation, then forward to a friend because the TAPS Organization needs their support.
4- Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend with your families.
Below, the original letter sent to you, will repeat in the fortunate event that you forwarded this TAPS Organization email to a friend to assist them in reaching their goal during the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend.
Dear Family, Friends and Colleagues,
I write to you today to tell you that recently I have reached some personal decisions and I am moving forward with one of the many items on my personal “To Do” list, as it does not necessarily meet the criteria of a “Bucket List" item. To me, the notion of a bucket list hinges on a restless consumption for the soul and an appetite for the fun, exotic and often an unattainable goals. However, what I have decide to do is attainable but not without sacrifice. As a former US Marine, I have signed up to run in the 42nd Annual Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, DC.
At 50+ years of age and 6 feet and 237 pounds, I am comfortable in saying I will certainly not be the most svelte marathon runner on the course. So, it will certainly take a level of sacrifice, on my part for those of you who know me well, to get ready for this race.
Forgoing my fondness for wine and long dinners with my family will be a challenge in and of itself. As cliché as it sounds, and after asking myself why am I doing this, the answer that continuously resonates with me is, why not! I should do it because I can, unlike many Marines who have fallen or who are impaired and cannot. I decided to run this marathon NOT because I served in the Marine Corps, but for all of those who cannot.
As I began the process, I reflected on the fact that if I was going to do this, I wanted to do so with a purpose, and that is why I am running in support of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). The TAPS organization provides direct support to families who have been impacted by a death in the military regardless of geography or circumstance. The last time I ran and traveled in excess of 26.2 miles in a day was when I was a young Marine; I did so under less than ideal conditions and not by choice, but necessity.
I do feel this run is also out necessity as I am choosing to run in honor of those Marines that no longer can, either from debilitating impairments from service related activity, like my former Team Leader or those that have given their life. Specifically, GySgt Javier Obleas-Prado Pena, USMC, KIA (Killed In Action) in support of the continued global war on terror.
It was not long after arriving in the Zaidon Region of Iraq in the fertile valley along the Euphrates River, when GySgt Obleas’s sniper platoon was under attack. This attack claimed the lives of two of his Marines and injured four others. In the midst of the chaotic situation, it was critical for GySgt Obleas to remain calm and resolute in his leadership as he maneuvered his men to establish a security cordon and directed the recovery and evacuation of the unit's casualties. On the very next day, with a depleted platoon from the previous day's combat operations, an isolated sniper team came under direct fire attack by 15-20 insurgents. GySgt Obleas lead a four-man element across 300 meters of exposed terrain under enemy fire to recover the team; he directed a devastating return attack on the enemy, thus allowing the engaged team to safely extract. Then, it was just a few short days later during sustained combat operations, GySgt Obleas became mortally wounded. Despite the severity of his injuries, he continued to direct Marines to establish security positions and refused medical treatment until all other casualties had received aid. The Secretary of the Navy has said that in each engagement, his undaunting leadership and selfless dedication saved lives and directly led to the success of his unit. By his zealous initiative, courageous actions and exceptional dedication to duty, GySgt Obleas reflected great credit upon him and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
GySgt Obleas is a fellow sniper and lifetime member of the USMC Force Recon Association; he joined the Marine Corps around the same time period as I did. Within a few years our paths crossed and after successfully completing the "selection process" he, and a few others, received orders to be stationed at my unit as a replacement for those of us being deployed. These new members were essentially our replacements.
The following year our paths crossed again, during the Arctic Warfare cycle for reconnaissance units where both my old team and new team where in attendance. During this training period, I was fortunate to say hello to old friends and to meet new ones including our departed friend, GySgt Obleas. Years later, he would be enthusiastically awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device for his heroic actions as a Sniper Team Leader in the Anbar province. While inserted into the war zones, he demonstrated exceptional bravery and gallant leadership conducting searches, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition during combat operations. His tactical acumen in the employment of sniper assets teams proved invaluable and he was an example of consummate professionalism, courage, and indomitable leadership for all to emulate.
Quite fittingly, GySgt Obleas was laid to his final resting place as a hero in Arlington National Cemetery (Section 60, Site 8084) surrounded by thousands of other heroes. Because many of GySgt Obleas friends were still deployed his family, friends, and those who honored him in life and in death did not feel it appropriate saying their final goodbyes until his deployed friends returned. Finally, the year after his death, he was given a second memorial service and a reunion was held in his honor in West Virginia by those of us who knew GySgt Obleas. Members of the Obleas family attended and were presented a plaque commemorating the good man who was lost.
The funds I raise will flow directly into TAPS programs supporting families, like GySgt Obleas’s family. Through an amazing network of resources, TAPS provides these services at no charge to survivors and their family members. When GySgt Obleas died, he left behind a wife and daughter, something that deeply resonates with me personally. Please help honor our fallen heroes by supporting their families and me in this effort.
The political climate of our country and the recent national election has galvanized many Americans, but one things remains, freedom. There is the controversial freedom for a woman’s right to choose, the freedom to vote, though many do not exercise this right and there is the freedom of speech, irrespective of your position in messaging. We also enjoy freedom of religion despite God being condemned and removed from our schools and even the maligned freedom of the press are just some of the many freedoms we celebrate as a country.
I have made my choice to run in this marathon and GySgt Obleas made his choice as well, the freedom to serve our country and he made the ultimate sacrifice for his teammates, his beloved Corps, and his country all in a lasting sacrifice to his family. His death is a reminder of the perils faced daily by thousands of Americans who serve in our armed forces overseas and whose devotion to duty and honor places them in harm's way to support our freedoms. In the end, families often sacrifice just as much as service members.
Just as the lone bugler solemnly plays Taps for those in attendance at a military funeral, my request to my family, friends and colleagues is this: do not let me make this marathon run alone. I only started training 2 weeks ago and we have until October. As a gesture of his sacrifice, why not make a personal sacrifice yourself and join me in Washington and make the run for these families that sacrificed for our freedoms.
I understand if you find this suggestion a bit too presumptuous for many of you, after all it’s not for everybody. So instead, I am asking you to make a small sacrifice by donating in his honor. No donation is too big or too small. Something as simple as a $5, $10, $15, $20 or more can help the TAPS Organization reach their goal.
On behalf of the many families benefiting from the TAPS Organization and all of it endeavors, thank you!
Mark Twain, when detailing the adventures of Tom Sawyer famously said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover” So cast your dispersions aside and throw caution to the wind through your support of the TAPS Organization.
May God bless your family, the USMC and may he continue to bless the United States of America during these troubling times endured on our freedoms and democracy.
If you think this page contains objectionable content, please inform the system administrator.