Fresh on the heels of good news that three Navy SEALs were found innocent of all charges stemming from accusations of abuse levied against them by an enemy combatant in Iraq, I share news that the Navy SEAL Warrior Fund raised a record $3.52 million yesterday at their sold-out 4th Gala Dinner onboard the USS Intrepid. The sold out event attracted over 1,000 supporters.
The Navy SEAL Warrior Fund began the day at the New York Stock Exchange, where Vice Admiral Joseph Maguire, USN, rang The Opening Bell at the NYSE. VADM Maguire is the deputy director for Strategic Operational Planning at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Ms. Tracy Tapper, surviving spouse of SOC David Tapper (Killed In Action, Afghanistan, August, 2003) and LT Jason Redman (Wounded In Action, Iraq, September, 2007), accompanied VADM Maguire.
Emotions ran high as dinner hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC emceed the evening events and celebrated the heroes in the audience. Not only did they offer uplifting and inspiring comments about the Navy SEALs and their service to this country, but also offered insights as to the impact the Navy SEAL Warrior Fund has on the families and dependents of Navy SEALs. They both thanked the New York City Police Department Honor Guard for presenting colors prior to the start of the dinner.
Brendan Rogers, president of the Navy SEAL Warrior Fund, in addressing the crowd said, “Today’s Naval Special Warfare Community is approaching ten years of sustained combat. This level of combat intensity carries with it high costs, some visible and some hidden. Our mission is to serve our soldiers by helping to mitigate some of these very real costs to our soldiers and their families. It is a tribute to the community that tonight’s dinner has been so successful.”
2010 Fire in the Gut Award
An additional highlight of the evening was the presentation of the 2010 Fire in the Gut Award to Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama who spent three days with Somali Pirates before being rescued by the Navy SEALs. This award is given to an individual or organization demonstrating superior dedication, leadership, and perseverance by accomplishing an extraordinary deed. The Fire in the Gut Award has significant meaning to all Navy SEALs — it is also presented at graduation to the candidate in each SEAL class who demonstrates superior motivation through the arduous six-month training course.
Christina Valentine, surviving spouse of SOCS Tommy Valentine (Killed In Training, February 2008) addressed the audience and provided specific examples of how the SEAL Fund helped her and her family when her husband was killed. LT Jason Redman addressed the audience as well and publicly thanked the SEAL Fund for the support they have provided to his wife and three children since being wounded in Afghanistan.
The inspiring and emotional evening concluded with the Naval Special Warfare Sailor of the Year reciting the SEAL Code.