Dinner and Conversation with Tom Friedman
MMAF’s major financial contributors and leadership group were treated to a special event at The Minneapolis Club on May 9, 2008. Tom Friedman, a New York Times columnist, Pulitzer Prize Winner and author, provided his updated view on geopolitics, energy, global and domestic social issues, and what the next administration needs to address for our country to remain strong. Friedman was the keynote speaker at MMAF’s fundraising dinner in February of 2007, and, as was that event, it was an outstanding, thought-provoking evening.
MMAF Appreciation Walk and Run
MMAF raised public awareness of the sacrifices made by our military as over 1,500 people came to downtown Minneapolis and participated in the fourth annual Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Walk and Run on June 22, 2008. All participants received free tickets to the Minnesota Twins game that followed the event, a “Thanks” t-shirt, bumper sticker, and ticket voucher for a Minnesota Timberwolves game in November.
The family of PFC Edward (Jim) Herrgott served as Grand Marshall of the event and led the Walk. PFC Herrgott was the first Minnesota solider killed in Iraq, and July 2008 marked the 5-year anniversary of his death.
In a short presentation prior to the Walk and Run, MMAF grants were awarded to two Purple Heart recipients, Lance Corporal Gabriel Morse and SSGT Ryan Hallberg. The Herrgott family was introduced along with 7 other families of fallen soldiers – the Nelson family, Mettille family, Zaun family, Fey family, McDonough family, Turcotte family and Anderson family. These families, accompanied by members of the Minnesota Patriot Guard bearing large flags, led over 1,000 walkers on the 1.5 mile route.
Over 200 people participated in the 5K Run, while halfway across the world in Baghdad, 140 solders participated in a 5K “Shadow Run” as a show of support for the MMAF event in Minneapolis.
The following is a sample of the feedback MMAF received after the event:
- “The event was fantastic! I will be joining you for years to come.”
- “What a meaningful way to show my kids the importance of patriotism, and the need to recognize the sacrifices made by our soldiers.”
Grant Presentation at the State Capitol
On the seventh anniversary of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, a special ceremony was held to honor seven service members who have served our country since 9/11. In the rotunda of the State Capitol, organizers of MMAF said “thanks” to Minnesota soldiers and awarded each a grant from MMAF.
The tribute also included the presentation of the Patrick Henry Award to the late Eugene Sit from the office of General Larry Shellito, Minnesota’s Adjutant General. The Award recognizes civilians who provide outstanding and exceptional service to the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard. MMAF Co-Chair Roger Sit accepted the award on behalf of his father. Mr. Sit stated, “If Gene were here, he’d say that this award is not for me but for the mission of MMAF and our soldiers.” Mr. Sit continued, “When our country faced tragedy seven years ago today, thousands of Minnesotans answered the call of duty. Today we honor a handful of our brave men and women and thank them for their service to our country.”
Honored grant recipients on that day included:
Specialist James Flermoen, Purple Heart recipient from Burnsville. SPC Flermoen was injured during an IED explosion while escorting a convoy outside of Baghdad on May 10, 2007. As a result of the explosion, SPC Flermoen fractured his right forearm and jaw, received shrapnel to his arms, legs, face and neck, and suffers traumatic brain injury.
Specialist Matthew Litherland, Purple Heart recipient from Plymouth. SPC Litherland served in Iraq as part of the United States Army from August 2003 until March 2007. SPC Litherland suffered a knife wound to his left eye, injured both knees and spent nearly 18 months at Walter Reed Hospital recovering from his injuries.
Specialist Clayton Herman, Purple Heart recipient from Minneapolis. SPC Herman served as part of the United States Army Reserve from January 2007 through January 2008. On December 1, 2007, he was injured when shrapnel hit his face and wrist after mortar exploded next to his truck while on convoy in Afghanistan.
Corporal Christopher Pickell, of Centerville. CPL Pickell served in Iraq with the United States Army Reserve from April 2007 until April 2008.
Sergeant Christian Pool, of Shakopee. SGT Pool served in Iraq with the Army National Guard from March 2007 until August 2008.
Captain Mark Martin, of New Hope. CPT Martin served in Iraq with the Army National Guard from March 2006 until July 2007.
Specialist Christopher Hanson, of Paul. SPC Hanson served in Iraq with the United States Army from June 2004 until June 2005.
Minnesota Timberwolves Operation Heroes Month
The crowd goes wild when MMAF grant recipients are honored at center court at November Timberwolves games. In conjunction with the Timberwolves’ Operation Minnesota Heroes program, MMAF presented grants to 15 service members and their families. Grant recipients were also given an autographed basketball and personalized jersey. MMAF co-founder, General Denny Schulstad, remarked that these grant presentations are highly emotional. “There was a prolonged, deafening ovation from the audience.
These service members know we care and will not forget.” MMAF is thankful to Chris Wright, President of the Timberwolves organization, and his staff for providing this special opportunity for fans to hear about MMAF and recognize a few of our Minnesota heroes. Mr. Wright stated, “The recognition that we give to our returning troops is the least we can do. We admire them for their commitment to our country and for the incredible sacrifices they make.”