Eric and I recently had the opportunity to visit the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum when I was in Florida for SOFIC a few months back. It was an awesome experience and one I’ll never forget.
It was my first visit to the museum and it was great seeing the completed memorial to all the fallen UDTs (Underwater Demolition Teams,) NCDUs (Naval Combat Demolition Unit,) Office of Strategic Services Maritime Units, Amphibious Scouts & Raiders and SEALs.
The memorial encompasses all those lost in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Desert Storm and the current War on Terror. It was also an honor to have one of the museum staff guys volunteer to help me out in creating a rubbing of the guys I knew while I was at BUD/s. I got a bit choked up remembering their heroism and camaraderie.
When ITS was still in its infancy, we donated to help fund the memorial by purchasing a memorial brick that you’ll see pictured below. It’s inscribed with “ITS Tactical, In Memory of Our Fallen.” I also got in a few pull-ups for Marc Lee, Alex Ghane, Ryan Job and Jason Workman while I was there. They had a pull-up bar out back and it was hard not to knock out a few.
Check out the photo collection below from our tour of the museum grounds and interior. The last photo in the set shows our Geocache “In Memory of Our Fallen” that Eric set up at Ft. Pierce where we launched our ITS Travel Bugs from. We made sure to restock it while we were there.
I’d highly recommend a visit to the museum if you’re ever in Fort Pierce; it’s not everyday you get to see the birthplace of Navy Frogmen. [Read More…]
Today marks the fourth year I’ve been able to remember Marc Lee here on ITS Tactical. Marc Lee was the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq on August 2nd, 2006 and I had the honor of serving with him in the Navy while I was at BUD/s.
Marc was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for his brave and unselfish actions on a Ramadi rooftop. As stated in his award citation, he was conducting clearance operations in south-central Ramadi with members of a Naval Special Warfare Combat Advisory element.
This is also the second year we’ve been able to raise money for Marc’s mother’s charity, America’s Mighty Warriors, thanks to your help in purchasing 5.1.11 Morale Patches. It was designed to commemorate May 1st, 2011 and the fantastic operation that Marc’s teammates from DevGru executed in killing Osama Bin Laden. [Read More…]
This last week as I attended SOFIC in Tampa, Florida, I had the opportunity to visit the UDT/SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce. It was my first time to visit the museum and the first time I had the chance to look at the memorial wall that was erected to remember each member of the UDT/SEAL community that has fallen since they born in the waters of Ft. Pierce.
Out of these men on the wall, I knew four during my time in the Navy and at BUD/s, Marc Lee, Alex Ghane, Ryan Job and Jason Workman. Before I left my visit at the museum, I went inside to ask if they had a piece of paper that I could use to make a rubbing on the wall of my friends. The man I asked said “I can do better than that” and proceeded to grab a large piece of felt-like material, a big black crayon-looking puck and head towards the door. He said, “I’d be honored to help you” and I admit that my allergies got to me a bit as I thanked him.
I’m not comfortable with that fact that my friends are up on that wall and I’d rather be able to pick up a phone, or see these men in person again one day. They gave their tomorrows so that we could have today and this is what Memorial Day is all about to me. Honoring their sacrifice and never forgetting.
This is why I’ll be at the Carry The Load event in Dallas today and tomorrow, walking for 20 hours and 12 minutes with a brick for each of these warriors. Rather than try to express the meaning of Memorial Day here, I’d like to present an excellent article written this week by Debbie Lee, Marc Lee’s mother and founder of America’s Mighty Warriors, a charity that’s near and dear to us at ITS Tactical.
Fallen But Not Forgotten
Memorial Day weekend has kicked-off and people all over the nation are jumping into their cars, RVs and Motor homes to take advantage of the three-day weekend. Everything is packed and ready to go after weeks of focused planning. Many have anticipated this weekend for months and planned for camp-outs, parties, fun at the lake or beaches and just a little R&R.
For those who choose to stay home you can take advantage of the “Huge Blow Out Sales” on everything from mattresses to cars, oh and don’t forgot all those sales at the market for that big BBQ. Many kids are cheering as this marked the end of their school year and the swimming pools are opening for the season.
It seems every ad in the newspaper, commercial on TV or banner reminds us to “Celebrate Memorial Day” or wishes you Happy Memorial Day! The majority of Americans don’t even find those statements conflicting, or understand what Memorial Day is really about.
Let’s check the dictionary, a memorial is an object which serves as a focus, for memory of something, usually a person (who has died) or an event, day a unit of time. Memorial Day was always the 30th of May until 1968 when Congress changed it to the last Monday in May so to allow for a three day weekend, now known as Memorial Day weekend. As a nation we have set aside this time to reflect (to think seriously) and remember (to recall to the mind by an act or effort of memory) our brave military heroes who gave their life in combat. This requires effort and serious thoughts not celebration and happiness.
As I child I remember getting together with family for picnics or BBQs and we looked forward to camping trips or trips to the lake. There were a few trips I remember to the cemetery, but it was to place flowers on deceased relative’s graves who had never served in the military. I thought Memorial Day was to remember loved ones who had died. I wasn’t taught and therefore I missed the opportunity to teach my children that Memorial Day is to remember those who paid the ultimate price. Freedom comes with a price, it isn’t free.
It really was my son, Marc Alan Lee who taught me about Memorial Day. Please take a momemt to watch this tribute video.
I have been on a campaign for years to Reclaim Memorial Day and educate and challenge people about what Memorial Day is really about. Many well meaning people still choose to make their speeches or advertising about thanking and honoring our troops on Memorial Day. As a nation that’s why we have Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day to do that. Personally, I’ve made it my mission to honor and thank the troops everyday, but our focus, our speeches, our thoughts of remembrance are to be on our brave warriors who gave their final breath defending everyone in America and what we stand for.
If you are a Gold Star family member everyday is Memorial Day for you, not a day goes by that we don’t remember our son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, or spouse who gave all of their tomorrows so we could have today. We remember them with pride and pain.
I don’t have to focus or use effort to remember Marc’s smell, his laughter, his grin, his hugs, his playful antics and sense of humor, his voice or who he was and how he impacted every life he touched. He was a gift that God gave me for 28 years and I was blessed that God picked me to be his mother. That young man did more in his 28 years than most do if they live to an old age. Marc successfully completed his mission and I know where he is and I will see him again one day.
I founded America’s Mighty Warriors in response to Marc’s last letter home and our mission is to honor and support our troops and the families of the fallen. I understand Freedom is not Free! I will be that voice for our troops and those who have laid down their weapons and left their boots behind and have no voice.
Have we as a nation placed our priority on fun and self fulfillment for Memorial Day weekend and forgotten our fallen heroes who died in combat?
Not only will I be remembering my son Marc whose name means Mighty Warrior, but I will be remembering every one of America’s Mighty Warriors who gave their lives, no matter what conflict, what branch of military they served in, how old, married or single, enlisted or officer. I will remember their sacrifice and their families and will live my life in a way that would honor them and make them proud!
I’m challenging you to make the effort this Memorial Day Weekend and REMEMBER those who died so you could have the freedoms you have. EDUCATE yourself, your family and those in your sphere of influence as to what this weekend is really about and then HONOR our fallen heroes and their families left behind. Attend a memorial event near you, stop and decorate the grave of a fallen hero, watch a movie or read about a fallen war hero, begin conversations reflecting and remembering, find a Gold Star family or teammate of a fallen servicemember and thank them and show your gratitude and remember to pray for them.
I remember when I was driving from Phoenix to San Diego for Marc’s funeral and we were stopped in traffic because of a bad wreck that had shut down the freeway. I had an envelope with pictures of Marc for the service and remembered looking at people in the cars next to me. Their lives were going on normally and had no clue that my son had just given his life in Ramadi and ours would never be the same. I had this urge to get out of the car and show them Marc’s picture and tell them his heroic story. I remembering questioning my thoughts, how weird, I thought to myself. Since then I’ve heard that from so many Gold Star families, they feel the same, we just don’t want you to forget our loved ones. As a nation we owe it to our fallen heroes, they gave it all for us.
“A nation who forgets it’s defenders will itself be forgotten” ~ unknown author
In the wake of President Obama using the SEALs raid on Bin Laden’s Abbottabad, Pakistan compound for political gain, I’d like to ask that we all remember the bigger picture. The world’s most wanted terrorist is dead and today should be one of celebration.
Celebration you say? Yes, the fact that US HUMINT (human intelligence) led us to Bin Laden’s door step should be celebrated for all those that have perished leading up to the operation and those that are still falling in support of continuing operations that deconstruct the terrorist network overseas. Bin Laden’s death certainly didn’t change the battlefield, but it did serve to unite the country in the toppling of a keystone.
One year ago at 23:36 Eastern time, President Obama addressed the nation and announced that US Special Operations conducted an operation deep inside a compound in Aboottabad, Paskistan that left Osama Bin Laden dead after a firefight.
Here at ITS Tactical, we created a 5.1.11 Prevail Morale Patch days after the operation in partnership with America’s Mighty Warriors. AMW is run by Gold Star Mom Debbie Lee, mother of Marc Lee, the first SEAL killed in Iraq on August, 2nd 2006. We continue to donate the profits from the 5.1.11 patch sales to America’s Mighty Warriors.
Marc perished during house-to-house clearing in Ramadi, Iraq and earlier that day put him self in the direct line of fire not once, but twice, to draw attention away from an injured teammate. The second time to allow a medic to reach the fortified position on the rooftop they were on.
Debbie Lee’s Non-Profit 501(c)(3) Charity, America’s Mighty Warriors, was founded to help our military, their families and those that have fallen through their loss. Today I’m celebrating Bin Laden’s death for Marc Lee, Alex Ghane and Jason Workman, who I was in BUD/s with and who I know are celebrating themselves as they look down over us from Valhalla.
We’ve been wanting to create something for a long time now on ITS Tactical to honor all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our way of life. I often get asked about the memorial bracelet I wear on my right wrist and its significance.
I’ve actually been alternating memorial bracelets in remembrance of three SEALs I went to BUD/s with that have lost their lives since the beginning of the war. Marc Lee, Alex Ghane and Jason Workman. It’s my way of never forgetting them, striving to do good and living life to its fullest each and every day. I know that’s what they’d want, to never forget them and what they died for. [Read More…]
Today, I’d like to offer my thoughts and perspective on the recently released Act of Valor movie. I’m not a movie critic, or even someone who’s got any operational experience outside of BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training) and what I was taught there. What I do offer with my write-up is the perspective of someone who has been through and overcome adversity side-by-side with members of the Naval Special Warfare community I’m proud to call my friends.
Words will never fittingly describe, nor do justice to the adversity that each one of these guys encountered in training and faces every day of their lives. What I mean by this is the continuous training, workup and deployment cycle they go through and all they sacrifice on a daily basis that most will never understand.
“We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill [Read More…]
I wanted to share a message with everyone today that Debbie Lee of America’s Mighty Warriors sent to me yesterday after this weekend’s tragedy in Afghanistan.
I received the check today, again THANK YOU SO MUCH! None too soon. I’m catching a flight in a few hours to be with the families of the fallen and the Community. It’s been a very difficult and extremely emotional weekend. Marc’s roommate that he lived with for over a year in VA was one of the KIA.
God bless you,
I think this email speaks volumes of what we were all able to do as a community here on ITS Tactical for America’s Mighty Warriors and our recent fundraiser with the Prevail Morale Patch. I’m grateful for each and every one of you and thank you for your generosity in giving to such a worthy organization.
While the stories and headlines seem to be changing by the hour, it appears that 31 have been left dead, including 23 Navy SEALs, an Army Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) crew, Air Force Special Operations, a SEAL K9 and an Interpreter.
Late August 5th, the Chinook carrying this QRF (Quick Reaction Force) was hit with an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) in the province of Wardak on their way to rescue four SEALs under attack. Three of these SEALs were also killed and the fourth rescued.
What has unfortunately been made public is that the SEALs were from DEVGRU (Development Group) which is also known as SEAL Team 6. Of course the media jumped all over the fact that this was the same unit responsible for taking out Bin Laden and the wrong things have been brought to light because of this. We have an upcoming article written by former DEVGRU Operator Craig Sawyer that talks directly about OPSEC (Operational Security) and the responsibility of the press on matters like these.
This loss is tragic to all involved and especially to DEVGRU, which is a very small community of SEALs. A few things have already been set up to help the families of the fallen and we’re working hard to come up with our own fundraiser to do all that we can as a community here at ITS Tactical, much like we did for America’s Mighty Warriors.
The Navy SEAL Foundation has set up a way to make a $10 donation benefiting the families by texting SEAL to 90999. A one-time $10 charge will be added to your wireless bill and donations of more than $10 can be made directly by visiting their Website at http://navysealfoundation.org/
Each year since I started ITS Tactical I’ve written an article on August 2nd to honor the memory of Marc Lee, whom I had the honor of serving with in the Navy while I was at BUD/s.
This year we were able to pull the collective efforts of our community here at ITS Tactical to do something for America’s Mighty Warriors when the opportunity presented itself. Shortly after Bin Laden’s demise we released the 5.1.11 Prevail Patch with proceeds benefiting Debbie Lee’s charity and supporting Marc’s teammates responsible for the justice served.
Debbie is not only Marc’s mother, a Gold Star Mom and tireless supporter of our Military, but travels constantly spreading the message of honor, courage and something greater than ourselves. Marc gave up his tomorrows so that we can have our todays and that’s something I’ll never forget. That’s why I’m proud to announce the donation that all of you that purchased a patch have been able to contribute to! [Read More…]
For all those that have been anxiously requesting another batch of our Prevail Morale Patches be made available, we’ve listened! They’re now in production and will be shipping out to you less than two weeks!
To purchase a patch to help support America’s Mighty Warriors click here and commemorate the operation on 5/1/11 that took SEAL Team VI deep into Pakistan, eradicating Osama Bin Laden!