Mistress Carrie's Side Piece Episode 21: Gold Star Father Joe Kelley

Friday, May 18th

As Memorial Day approaches, it's important to remember the meaning behind the holiday. It doesn't take much to recognize the price that has been paid by our Gold Star Families. In this episode, Mistress Carrie interviews Gold Star Father Joe Kelley, and his daughter, Gold Star Sister Colleen Dugan. They lost their beloved son, and brother Sgt. Michael Kelley in Afghanistan on June 8, 2005, he was the first member of the Mass. Army National Guard to be killed in action. A school was dedicated to Sgt. Kelley, in the mountains of Afghanistan in December 2011, the very same school, Mistress Carrie visited during it's construction in September 2011 as part of 'AAF to Afghanistan'. The Kelley family has been supporting this school since it's dedication, and it's roof is now in desperate need of repairs. This Memorial Day, please support the Kelley Family, by making a donation to their fundraising efforts, to help the Sgt. Michael J Kelley School keep the 600 students (130 are girls) in class! If you want to make a donation please click here!  Thank you so much for your support. 
01:18:30

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Welcome to episode 21. Of mr. scary sight peace pod cast my name is mr. scary appeared. Just discovering the podcast on the mid day host and music director of the only station that really rocks WA AF Austin. If you subscribe to the podcast thank you so much you can subscribe on iTunes Google play stitcher. You can also listen to every episode right at WA AF dot com which is where you can get. All of the details and information about me and my show there's also let you live. There's also a listen live button on the web sites you can stream WA AF from anywhere that you are. Or you can download the radio dot com app and then you can stream much anywhere on your phone. This is episode 21. And if you to listen to podcast a lot you know that I try to mix it up there's a lot of music and there's. A lot of charity stuff and just. I just look for really interesting people. And interesting things to talk about an as this is the week leading up to memorial today. There aren't batter guests or more deserving guests you have on the podcast. Then gold star family members. And we get into it in this podcast. About what a gold star family is. It's definitely a club that you really don't wanna be apart of but when you're in it you're grateful that you have that support system around you. But this podcasters are really to get everyone. To understand why it is that we get Memorial Day off. The significance of the holiday the difference between that and say veterans there armed forces day at a fourth of July when it comes to patriotism and supporting our military our troops are veterans. And also. Please listen to the whole podcasts because. There's a part of it. It is as close to my heart. Something can get and I really need your help. We are trying to raise money for an amazing project. In the name of a fallen soldier from Massachusetts. And it just couldn't be more personal for me to trying get this project taking care of and to raise this money and to help the Kelly family continue on the legacy. Their son and their brother and it's. I just. I'm so happy and honored that they would include me in this fund raising effort. It and it's I just so want to meet this and do everything we can't so thank you so much for listening this is episode 21. A Mistress Carrie site peace podcast. And it features Joseph Kelly. A gold star father from here in Massachusetts. I think we're good when we role this role Ira I think Roland and couldn't. Mistress Gary's side piece podcast. Snapshot on WB AES dot com. I'm a woman. Welcome. Benefit place like I feel Kelli thank you for coming. Right here to explain mr. Kelly Jo what it is common Joseph aren't athletes. Thank you so much for coming in as we. I really talking so much about Memorial Day coming up and it just seems life. The perfect opportunity to sit down with you and Todd and one of the common themes that keeps coming up in this podcast is how total strangers seem to be connected somehow. And so you and IA and and your family we're connected in a way that I had no idea we would be. And it wasn't discovered until later and so I feel like I have this little connection with your family that I cherish and I love so much. And we're gonna talk about that today don't. But I really wanted to start at the beginning. For anybody that has just discovered my podcaster may be somebody that's listening from outside of Massachusetts or New England. We may be somebody that just wasn't aware of the story about your son and I just wanted to go back to the beginning absolutely and talk about your son Michael. Or should I say sergeant Michael Kelly. He was a soldier in the Massachusetts army National Guard that's correct that was killed in action in June of 2005 frightened right. There's a lot to go over you are what they call on gold star debt that's correct. And so why don't you talk a little bit about what that term means. Well. It's a I hate to call it a club but. You know. The you lose a son to walk. And now all of a sudden your goal style family. My children my. Most of siblings my wife's a gold star mom. I'm a little stunned and in an all happened on June 5 assuming June 8. Not 2005. Porn Michael. Was killed in action and you can Afghanistan. He and another soldier were killed along with eight other. Soldiers wounded on a landing site. He he's a died as result of rocket fire. And on the thing is as he was only in Afghanistan. For. 69 days. And I'm in the 69 day. Which is just horrible. A matter of fact that morning of his death. There was. In the news. Two soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. And Karen my wife said Jesus you know for their families. Not knowing. That I saw was one of them. Later on man day. Same day he was killed. There was a knock Amendola. Santana knock on the door that you see sometimes in the movies. Two soldiers came to the dorm not to manure and they said you know asked if I was Joseph Kelly Michaels on the message he has in. And you recited them the message. We represented great formation me he to inform you that your son Michael was killed this morning. He was killed in action. In May and we commend. So. All I can say is at that point that's all I remember of them then. My legs like. Too elastic bands I was I was shaken and very very upset. I didn't realize at that time and he ended up putting like this for the long get so upset ones. And not meant dead. Would now what the army did or didn't do. It's just so upset that as a father. Something was taken away from what was taken away from me is the opportunity to protect my son. What did supposed to do and I couldn't. That's why it was Solis. Meant. That 92 this lasted for so in my program. Note yes. Memorial Day is coming out. But for the Kelly for Newman. Memorial Day is every. Risen a day that goes by that we don't remember remind. In our mission. As the keepers memorial line. And we've done so over the years and we continue to do so this is another wave to keep the memory alive by. Coming in here talking you. And it helps to talk about him re absolutely having you come in and and and allowing me to ask you questions about Michael Keaton is some people. Could say a whole you know they really wanna talk about it or should she really be asking him that you that you want to talk about him. See the thing uses and we don't want Michael. To die a second time. Then when I mean by that is he was killed was killed in action he was brutally killed. I got the autopsy report ones. Horrible thing to. But. The day. His name is not mentioned again is the second time we've done. And as long as I'm breathing I don't program. Every day I'm talking a moment. On thinking about. We've done a lot over the years to keep his memory alive. The military. Michael's unit than that I'm Massachusetts army national and we were at a meeting once shortly after his death. And in general leaned over I was sitting in the audience in the front row and in general leaned over the podium. And he said to me. We will never. Ever again. Ridiculous on. And I just at the time and so well you gotta say some them and you know you hear that sort of thing all time missiles in news and that. He meant it and they continue to do it. Out of the blue one day again in a phone call from. The general's office. And down and said listen. We're what we're putting together the of a basic camp Edwards. This is one and we we won and Eminem dias on. It's a training race. Don't think him in the bank in my mind it was like a building with a gymnasium and you know made to date calisthenics and things like that. Prices being honored to have that done that that's great. And we're we're gonna have a reception and Donna camp Edwards and we've been you know an opening at the base and a dedication. And we'd like you when your family to attend. So we'd drive down there and when the whole woken at fifteen acres. Of day. Training base. That replicate. What a soldier will see. And in in actually experience when made deployed either Afghanistan and Iraq. The purpose of the base. Was a cut down the danger time the at a soldier of world experience. When he's the port. The danger time is within a hundred days. Michael. Was killed in the 69 to. Because of this training base. In the replication and looks just like but the gaming experience when they get deployed. It's down the 35 days now and engines. It's probably less than that now. The base was. We're in Michael's name in. 2008. And we go down there every year. Couple times a year but at least on his anniversary of the week of his anniversary. We go down there. And we visit with that the folks down there and we've a plan that the the beginning of the basic opening in the base. And and we're gonna get up and down here again this year June 10 is going to be a ceremony. Militaries and put on a ceremony. This time they did last year they don't and again this year it briefly union probably some words will be spoken. I always ask me just say a few words and obviously there's going to be some of soldiers and being trained. So do get you know see some of the Kelly's and there's a big sign rhino font beautiful sign you know telling everybody what the spaces and and it's it's on the tactical training base Kelly that's when its call. So. That's one thing that's. Another thing that. Helps keep this memory alive is is a a bridge that goes from my references to a commercial where from says two. Technicals over the enough room. I've bridges named after Mike name does that mean in his memory does signs on boats both sides of the bridge when that bridge was dedicated. His unit came down. And they brought their howitzer cannons now that's a 101 are Taylor and right that's correct under movers. They brought down a howitzer cans and they. At two let those go. And I which. Is a pretty powerful and audio and allow load very very sound if you've never heard howitzers runoff is and that's what they used on the fourth of July the past when I write same same machines. I think and how well but there aren't being humiliated left and a source now. The other interesting thing along with you know his unit in and howitzers. In a lot of military. Things. Where is my older son Sean the my actions in the Boston crusaders. In the Boston crusaders came down and matched over Michael's bridge. Where we thought that was pretty neat but more so than that there were two F sixteens. That came from the ocean down the river in over the bridges flyby. Those are the same F sixteens. Were. Deployed. At nine with a 9/11. How was when they were were when they were crashed into race and those from camp Edwards race and those actually Otis. Receive forms or what they call now joint base Kate caught on camera right. So that was pretty neat so it was and she just. A dedication it was like they pulled out all the stops unbelievable unbelievable. Like him there. I know how many more times it and say this woman never ever forget. Well they so let let me stop you here to die I have so many questions and believe I forget the mall. So Michael was the first member of the Massachusetts National Guard that was killed post 9/11 into Rombach correct that's correct. And it's. It always seems to be that if someone. Is in the military it's because there's a lineage of that in the family is that true and Kelly Stanley as well. My father was in the army I I was not. But my father say arm army fan. And I completely. My my dad served in Korea. And my uncle as a massive size and. Nine and I guess we can and so there's no arguing on army navy day game you everybody knows who you're voting for aren't really rooting for an Achilles arm and it. So when. As a father. Were you aware that Michael wanted to enlist in the army and and what was that lie eight. And did it happen before or after 9/11. Michael. Michael was an actual guy that's been before 9/11. And the reason why he wanted to doing is he was kinda aimlessly wandering. In life notched no knowing for sure what he wanted to do. He he wanted to get into some sort of communications. And summaries that she's you know use all kinds of opportunity. In the military. So he looked into it and he decided to join. Post 9/11 right after 9/11. He said I gotta do some witnesses horrible. And room he was. Assigned to camp Edwards. Is that they want now bases across the country. And he was or about a year now. As is you know I'm guide at the the one of the gates. When that happened. The rest of his human. Was angry they were in Quincy is you can Quentin that's with a when no one was in NC. They got deployed to Iraq. And he was a little upset about that he wanted to but he was on a mission so he couldn't break. So when his mission was over. Was a year and now. And he ended up and raw hole but this. I'm. In. One day the lieutenant came ounces you know we need some volunteers. To learn. Some machinery that was actually it was comedy. Yet tactical at at the Hillary battery it was it was acquisition. Position tactical acquisition. And what that basically does is analyze its. With the meal with the enemy is firing from so we can repeat fire exact. He went to local Oklahoman who trained and how to run that. And he ended up going to Afghanistan. Now when Michael was deployed to Afghanistan. We as a family we just thought well you know only he was in direct. You know that's an interesting anomaly here in a. Too much for a lot of people called it another forgotten war because there was so much emphasis put on war coverage in Iraq and Afghanistan. Was an afterthought in the news a lot of time. Exactly exactly. I'm so we we were nervous as a family were concerned absolutely but. You know we just looked at it as he's going away on and on the job and he'll be back soon. And he was going to be at a base where Rangers were always in a forward operating base where you know there. But it was a base. Run by Rangers you know so that's the only depending on. So that made us feel pretty good and we're able to talk to from time to time they have the satellite phone so he would call us and a matter of fact we were in Vermont at the time we told him Mike you know if you get a chance. Give us a call we'll all be together on Memorial Day weekend. In March. And now was the last time I spoke with him. Is that died June he was Q. So. So looking at the the differences in in the wars and it's something else we talk about a lot of this podcast the World War II oh you were waiting by the mailbox. And as technology and yes an has technology changed. The the ability to be able to communicate with home more immediately. And at more often write it has got to be a blessing for family events at home while a member of your family is deployed. Right. Now but but. You get the message. But it took. Pretty close to ten days. Before Michael. Came home. OK we we have don't. Do nothing but. You know crying and everybody's shoulders. Know what I mean went when he was still alive and able I'll just call you. The communication and oh yeah just it's got to be a blessing for you to be able to hear from him right here his voice in to be able to talk to him selloff and even though we so far away right. Right and with the same thing like what you're touching on in World War II with that notification. Process. Would come western union right and it's. Now. For anybody and and I wanna talk about this because. There's such separation. Between the civilian populace at the United States and the you know 1% it's more than half of 1%. That enlist in some military service and so you know. If if one half of 1% Serbs. Their family is you know 10%. And the other 90% of the population and have been almost untouched. By the last sixteen years of war wrecked so. Eight you know there's that there's a movie that I tell people to watch and I'm sure you've heard of it that Kevin Bacon is in call taking chants that HBO did burn. And to me it was the most. Accurate. In in my perception. Of what that notification. Experience an escort experience would be like US ban on the receiving end of that notification. Where that they their soldiers come to your door in their dress uniforms. What happens on the other side of the world because who when I was embedded with the mass national army National Guard in 2011 and when something like that does happen they shut down all communication and so the satellite phones that Michael was able to use to call you right the Internet service. To make sure that the family can be notified before any word of anything gets out exactly. So. You're at home. Do. They wake you up. In the middle of the night it did they. I mean I I really wanna be able to ask someone that's been through it what baton. We have the a gravel driveway stone driveway. So and and it was 1 that evening the windows are open and I heard. Something coming up to dry it was account. Coming up the driveway and I I booked a the window. And it was a police cut. Two police. And Witten. And then I looked through their eyes sought to figure as walk walk in the driver what happened was deceived to police escorted. The military folks to our house. And then he just backed out of the driveway. That's not think it is. We got a knock on the door. And no it was announced mile and the launch that's for sure. So once they they give viewed at the actual notification spoke about in the past come in the house right. Usage in remember a lot about that over the next thing he he he wanted to talk to count the days they wanted to. Notifying my life. In a stir things she wasn't in the doorway which she wasn't in the door she was already in bed okay like I said wait a minute. Climbed upstairs and sure opponents as he. Uses this in Miami guys that the fallen to a one. It's been calling was in her bedroom. I was in. Attendance issues. And when to go missing and you know witches. On. Now in that moment. Your entire family's lives are changed she added Chad and the military. From from my perspective anyway seems to do everything they can. To alleviate his much stress off for the family and that time as possible. So they assign what they call a casualty officers. And that person is there to navigate the entire process which you correct correct. These two offices stayed with us on nine. In the casualty officer came in the morning there are a lot of decisions and there's a lot of planning that needs to take place. There's benefits are obviously. And services to be planned just all of these things. And and the last thing you wanna think about is the logistics right. One of the first questions. We're it is. We we would like we do like Michael to be buried at Arlington. And c'mon. I mean witnesses. We have a cemetery right appearances to. For veterans. And that's. And we visit his grave every week and future. It's nice to have him close yes I know other families that have there. The sons and autism Arlington and it's at its attracted them here. And sometimes it's not easy to get access. In. And you can't. You winning thing at the grace light stars planting. Line that we finish finish for a beside Michael's known we got we got in stone can have had stones and Ellington. Bellingham puzzles for what is so we have afforded. At the on of his grave in the head of this group has its own. On that those who years and and it also says he's an American hero right on that and its. We can do that Arlington. And weaken burning plants and leave the plants there and you know put them up it might have plants that you know we're at Memorial Day. The general attitude in general will come down to. Michael's grave every year and in any any places the challenge going. And as grapes and again it's meant to figure. In me they communities and following on from Milford now believe his words offices. I can't imagine the experience and I think it takes a certain type of person to be able to should be. In opposition to to make the notifications to the family. What can you talk about what it meant to your family to have the casualty officer and those notification soldiers there ingests. What it meant to your family that they were there as opposed to what would have happened fifty or sixty years ago that you would have gotten a telegram and well. The I think it's it's because Michael was in the Massachusetts army national. That's a little bit different than being in regular army. Michael in his unit and all the other units in Massachusetts are considered citizen soldiers. I am when they get deployed there active arm. However. These citizen soldiers. Come from the same communities. So we were able to. Talk to the folks that was there when Michael was killed. We're very friendly with the soldier to try to save my. Name is Tripp tender. Receipt chip an awful lot. The soldiers that. Escorted Michael home. We see him time to that effect he was at the bridge dedication. In the way across the bridge system moving. Moving moving. So we're able to talk to these people. To know a little bit about Mike is an and Mika. Okay inside of your son that you didn't get to see exactly. And and how. He was. According to them now he was the life of the party. He was a guy that when things with time off. And you know everybody's kind of down on the mouth whenever he would crack some jokes or get get people. Excited and happy and all that sort of thing matter that surprise you when they said that about him or did you say that's my Michael that's. That is Mike that was Mike. His is one of his. Things that he does. Is he likes to mimic. Difference different things in a movie you know like for example one of his favorite movies was Tommy Boy yeah filled with quotes right. And one of the quotes benefit we have and on news. That stone. Brothers don't shake hands Brothers gotta hug. Okay he could say that so perfectly you put that on his head stones that's Oscars. So. It's it's just. It just feels. A lot different OK and OK the as we know other families that have. Not not to knock any of the military branch but. It's it's just that if it's you know and move on and they come from all over you know over the country so does no. Mean leap type thing where it would. Massachusetts army national mean these people here which meant effect of in August it's going to be August. A read. Rebuilt the Quincy armory. That's the only that my 201. Was and they closed it down 101 got the stand and little. So there reopening. The quizzing armory. In native dedicate dedicating that armory to Michael. Now armies going to be named after Mike can be Michael sergeant Michael Jason Kelly I'm. In his and India. And dedication ceremonies in. Mid August we don't know exactly. Another way of getting. Michael's memory to continue okay and what was told to me by the ago. He says you know the base. On a camp Edwards is nice. Okay. But this is permanent. The Quincy Emery is permanent. It's not going that'll be near a hundred years from now. Mills was gonna happen to students. And that's what they by two tenths right. Down on the. I don't mean to go back but I really want two to talk about something that you're bringing up. Just a little history lesson and I'm gonna paraphrase it but for anybody that's listened that doesn't understand the the difference between. The army the army reserves and National Guard so according to the constitution. The US military cannot be deployed on American soil. So the army bases we have around the world's. And the active duty or what they call active duty reserve bases around the country. Those soldiers. It's either a full time job active duty or reserves which is kind of the same the weekend the two weeks a year. Op but they cannot be deployed on American soil. So. To make sure that the homeland can be protected they created the National Guard from the militia right here in Massachusetts. And those National Guard soldiers. Report to the governor in their chain of command and then to the president. So when a case lake. Hurricane Katrina I believe President Bush wanted to. Deploy the Louisiana National Guard troops overseas to the Middle East and the governor was able saying knowing he'd my boys at home. You got to take them from somewhere else so permission has to be gotten from the governor to deploy those National Guard troops from the state if the president needs them right. And so what you're talking about it is a National Guard unit they they report to these armories that are all around the state. But they're all guys been listed from the same hometown it's whereas if you enlist in an active duty and you get in the army is say your full time job. You could be from Boston but stationed in Kentucky correct or stationed in Germany or and then when you come home. You would go back to Massachusetts. And get out of the military or whatever but. The same family dynamic the same closeness isn't there. As much now on an active duty based whole community is built around those based as which is what Evans used to be right on years ago but just so that people have an understanding when you're talking about. How the mass army National Guard has maintained such a close relationship with Kelly family and work so hard to keep Michael's memory alive. It's because all of the soldiers that he served with are still in that community right. And those soldiers there were in his command are all still. Here because this is where they're from this is where they came back to. So you've become. Yourself and the rest your family members now a part of that National Guard family through Michael service. And Mike by the way Michael's unit was deployed. Believed 98 and nine times. Post them. And the length of time is a year plugs. In the army deployments of the longest and they are really long right. Interest thing. As we you know obviously. You know. The military you know wrap their arms around us. And we wanted to give back. And Colleen stepped up. In gave back. As as your daughter Colleen shipman who's in the room whether she's just saying. Could you come to the microphone calling mean in group works say what you what you did or. The guys put you on aspiring now it's your dad's it's kind of hard and now. At that it's important an awesome I think it's awesome you did. And it was an easy. And in me to explain. To people wise and why you had that kind of a position. I. Yeah no probably Dez just gonna throw you into the deep end right there and it totally and so after Mike's unit came home and the first time we met them was at the British dedication. MM across and imprisoned partisan harmony was and the crossing the bridge the first time. At the other end of the bridge was a school bus. Military balance of at my unit. And you know names and we heard of 'cause my brother. And about all the spotlight shine after Michael died I went on online and at a time we do not really a FaceBook made MySpace and China chapter without a look at news articles. I think people forget sometimes. How technology has changed and how quickly right and that. In 2005. For 20062007. It wasn't as easy to keep in touch as it is in 28 lane. What you're talking earlier about the conversations like getting a phone calls with some western union and we didn't have to is that we have. At least get a hold of him I talked to him wants his appointment and and that was it you know it was no. You know quick instant messenger mr. Emery like patent granted army new rules. Time communicate at home but it's a little bit easier every year goes on it'll be easy thinks social media. So my brother and you after me Madonna Michael and brother sign went online trying to find some of the unit to get. Some sort of information or just some sort of connection of did you see my brother did you know gimmick. You know we have to take the word for we didn't you know it's it's not like it casualties someone dying back home Rican. Go to the site of where happens there are too literally taken some elsewhere you don't even know what aerial looks like. You just aghast at your head. So that's when he got a hold of chip vendor who then we're really close to now. He's a great and my friend. And so when we saw him as violent so great to face or name and ends in a big hug and from that point on I was kind of connected to those guys and and the unit and so I've you know a good after the visit the unit. Am whenever channel weekends and it was a parts of you say hey you wanna be part of our family readiness group and what does that. Alone in your brother tell you. Of course not I got after the back in it they caught the FRG and it's a way to keep in Fam les. Connected with the unit exactly. And in my brother was very young hit a home life for many years military life and in very rarely did it cross that's. Essence how would this effort G thing is and Emmitt some other. Women who who's their husbands are in the unit. They're getting ready for another deployment. So I am I learned a lot about military life as my brother and and share and that let me I mean just learning to speak the language right. There's an acronym for everything totally I didn't. It was very hard to in the beginning just had to testify innings in India well these things. I am so and they unit got deployed and it was it was hard for us as a gimmick as you know it's nice unit we became such a closer relationship a bag but them. It's their whole deployment. I was in charge of that RG and I I did family events for the families back home and I was a connection to. Them overseas so if something happens in the family back home for example. One of the families are on a boiler barks tied to help. Get notification. And chide and help fix for the or like if there's a definite family back home just to try to reach than the unit just inform them says that connection. This is another difference not to interrupt you are between the National Guard an active duty military. Using active duty you either live on base in base housing. Where you live right around the perimeter of the base. And because your active duty that is your full time job to be a soldier and airmen Marines. And so then. Did the unit it it's there's a lot more mechanisms in place. To support the families that are back at home because they're active duty. And so you're immersed in that military culture that's what they live in pre it's what they live and breathe every day but with National Guard likely dad was saying that their citizen soldiers. These wives husbands kids are. In their homes they've stepped away from their regular jobs quote unquote regular jobs to be deployed as part of a National Guard unit. And so there are a lot of struggles in a lot of hurdles for National Guard family. Because that huge massive. Active duty military. Safety net and support system isn't there the way. Yeah for the National Guard soldiers as it is for active duty so you were helping to kind of navigate these hurdles for these families. Which has got to put those soldiers deployed at ease knowing that someone was at home having the back of their wives and and husbands and kids absolutely because it's. You know that you don't take their focus after mr. and you wanna keep them focused and emission Harriett think home. On Beth back here it's hard as he said you don't have their unit their whole army in a whole community. You're talking to individual schools explaining why. You know their son or daughter having a hard time struggling as. And it's less than 1% populations especially the National Guard it's in your neighbor can be deployed you have no idea. And so on school there's a lot of kids. Had a hard time with mom or dad is deployed and and trying to explain that to a school that. Isn't around a military base is really hard but in a thankfully amassed his National Guard again there can't say enough great things up and have a wonderful. And the rain this program that you know they have literature and and templates and programs that they can help these schools or help any any meat. Iron. Which is absolutely wonderful as you know it's so hard dealing with the deployment having a loved one there when you any other day is you know. You're able to call them in and ask for assistance when they're gone it to realign some of the people on it sometimes is really hard apps for help so. It has to be that bridge that gap for them in and Latin Alec alma shoulder to lean on. As it was comforting to me to be part of their family and gossiping is comforting to them to know that I have about the model. And they you. Weren't just this person from the outside. That was swooping in to help them that you are a member of that community and that you understands. The struggles because you were a family member of the deployed soldier crack so you you. Had a better understanding in a perspective than anybody else would race. And answer it was hard you know looking at me it was a face of their worst fear but I did the best that I could test. In its tightest help whatever situation was offered some sort of fun activity for that the families went to the zoo we had. You know patent fund family events and you know bouncy houses and things like that like to send. We are getting the kids together just getting the wives together because nobody else can understand what it's like to be a family member of the deployed soldier. Then otherwise exactly and other kids and it's the same thing that your dad was talking about when it comes to being a member of this club quote unquote club. As a gold star family no one else can understand what you've gone through as a family. Then another gold star family and having that support system. And so the National Guard it's really hard you know it's great have a national guards that you understand what they're also going and must've made you feel good that you're carrying on your brother's legacy tell exactly got to go visit. You heat last wives and and they had his pronouncements there and it was just blocking that. Always that he did in. In talking to people that he did in. It does help and keep his memory that's that's the most important thing of him. So I'd love that did. In his graves when his you hold it close is really hard the media. That's when it was like everything came to a close a plant that's where I had my. The reality of what really happened just everyday is condolence to. You know not let its thinking totally and and ICU with the Eagles are events. I'd avoid goals are siblings like the play and want nothing to do with them because at one item relate and in Washington. How about mighty club needed no existing in wanna be apart exactly but once IE Ian Matthew Simmons and I best practice. You know it's. We come from different waksal lives and you never know. That we just met war on. You have this connection is you know we go out and hang out like we're not you know of these like. Acted on her forehead saying we lost siblings something but it's like we just now and we have that data center equipment is this just going to be okay. You know anniversaries birthdays this just random days 'cause the cadets at every day is Memorial Day for all girls of him. I try to remind people of that too as we get closer to Memorial Day. I mean obviously it's a three day holiday weekend the unofficial start of summer and it's nice that people always wanna do things to support the military around Memorial Day weekend. But. Members of the military and veterans. Are always the first ones to say first of all it's not a celebratory weekend for us. And second of all veterans stays in November from you and it's you can thank me for my service in November. Not this week and that's not what this weekend is about. That's like one of my biggest pet peeves is it the people in the difference between the two in and I was nine when I had no idea you know or goes back to that half of 1% serves and then. That the families and when you look at the veteran community of the country. It's more than 90% of the country is just civilians completely unaffected it's not like World War II where it was what like 35%. And wrecked. That you know so people just don't understand it's great. And you hear like the all the emotions like oh come. Have dinner here and actions Africa's economic rate and it reminded me you know it's it's really hard people get relief from. What mr. meaning of these qualities are and and I'm so glad and happy the people do get three day weekend and are able to celebrate the beginning of summer but take a minute to think of why you have. Buyer able to enjoy your barbecue outside for nearly. In this is because of sacrifices. In my brother and other U Brothers and sisters and other injuries and families are hurting you know. But you know enjoy your day but don't forget to take a minute to think you have. I went to Arlington last Memorial Day weekend. And I went to visits. The grave. Marine sniper. Which is Mont. In doing that on Memorial Day weekends. You know 45 years olds I know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. I've done enough stuff with the military over the years that I get it. When until last Memorial Day. Being there with her on that day. Eight it it gave me such clear perspective. Is that. I get angry about it the way that you do now. And and I can't imagine what it's like to be a gold star family member. But being at Arlington we column on the cape and being at Arlington a momma Kaye. It really hit home for me and really made me understand. What that is really supposed to be and now I find myself. Getting really pissed off you know like a great one have a mattress sale this weekend like I get upset about it now and and I think maybe before it would have been a little more lenient but I am I get so upset with it now Owen and so like I catch people around the halls like especially now in like tiptoeing like you know. Don't say that Kerry is here to get you're gonna get screamed that. But it really is important for people to understand that you guys don't get its. The marquee you don't eat you know it'd veterans can Wear a hat of the ship they served on a wall warts soon or they can. Did you know last service license played or you can put a bumper sticker on her like whatever but. The family is where the civilians left behind. So just take five (%expletive) minute. Sorry. That are great Satan NC in this tiny veterans' graves around you see the markers I have flags on them it's pretty easy to figure it out right. Just passed him and you know it's in so again enjoy your barbecues but there's a reason why have them and the reason why it would be free in the and it is hard to get mad at every year and that public service announcement months may hits like. No difference yeah and and I percent of people don't educate yeah. And just be glad you're not an excuse. You know where apple we have in articles silence since late. Which of the activity in mine was Mike's name on it. But I've had people some in traffic say has yet Apple's. Trust me you don't want it. And then I've also had people Sammy traffic like literally get it doesn't want to hug you right they get out of the car is a freak about it. And they think me and I'm just like. Well thank you like. You know I appreciate the acknowledgment. Because that some people there are people out do you understand and to take the minute. Using some. I appreciate it thank. You did well to being put on as I figured out how to cook it. What you put on the spot she did well yes she. Signals resume. So one thing. I wanted to talk to you about on talking about you know the license plates and all of that was a few years ago. Masters has fallen heroes. I'm one of those two days they wanted to to put that memorial. Right that's down on the seaport right and it took years of fund raising. And stayed dedicated it would a year and a half ago now war and retrieve two years. And it's porch since. And it's I believe this guy's dedication action. And so for anybody that is looking for a way to commemorate the holiday. Or if they're just out and about in the city. You really do have to go down that memorial it it just they did such a beautiful job it's five cited. Obelisk is that and then there's the correct terminology for it's it's lit from the inside so at night you can see it. And then there are glass panels with all of the names etched on them and it has a beautiful view of the water and it's just. There's a reflecting pool with all of the branches of the military represented in theirs bench is and you can just kinda go there and just sit and take and they are used to play it's a very peaceful place in the middle of the city. So when we started talking I said that there was a connection between. Myself and your family and so for anybody. I've referenced it trips that I made. Several times on the podcast but I've been indicted twice with the mass army National Guard I went to Iraq in 2006 and I was in Afghanistan it's 111. And it's. One of missions that I went on is that I was taken up into the mountains in Afghanistan. To see the construction of a school house and to see this village and to meet the children that were eventually gonna go to school there. And it's so weak you know the armored convoy app into the mountains. Am I just couldn't believe you know just how desperate ones and it it looked like another planet it was just out in legitimately the middle of nowhere. And they were explaining to me that you know they build a school house they build the schoolyard they build a well. So that it's. You know that the schoolhouse as water there's no electricity say you have to go to school during the day there's no Kearney thinks they can go to school in the winter time. And you see the village that's kind of built around it and I started asking questions nice bullets 150000. Dollars to build a school. About another 5000 dollars to dig the well. Meanwhile. The op armored vehicle that I showed up Marianne is a 450000. Dollar vehicle and it was for them. So the irony was not lost on me of where I was in and you know that you could spend a 150000. Dollars to build a school house and provide fresh water for a village. And in this one vehicle you know you can do that three times over. So as we're walking around I met some of the kids who just you know couldn't have been sweeter and they were so excited they see the Americans come in from. Miles away and they all line up because they know the soldiers are gonna have treats for that matter. You know we brought toys for them and candy and I had a chance to meet some of the NA there at the Afghanistan national army soldiers that were they are kind of protecting the schoolhouse. And it's. I believe they called to care about school at the time and and so they showed me a schoolhouse and really remedial facility. Not very big not very flashy chalk boards you know benches seats for kids. But just to hear about. You know the fact that they it was required that girls be able to go to the schools that was one of the caveats of the US military was that they had to be open to girls. Answer really seen how excited these kids were to go to school. So this was in September of 2011. So a few months later the unit that I was embedded with they were still deploy. And I got pictures. And that's schoolhouse. Because that whole area of the country was controlled by the Yankee division with the units from Massachusetts. When they built these schools they dedicated to fallen soldiers from Massachusetts. And it just so happened at the school house that I toward and visited during its construction was dedicated to Michael. And so I a have all of the pictures of the construction and I met the kids that go to your son's school. And it's. It's just such strange and coincidental. Connection and that I I've been to this place so far away and met these kids whose lives are being changed. Because of a school house dedicated to your son. And so when you talk about your son's legacy. One of the things you do to keep his memory alive and keep his legacy going. Is that used support this school so why don't you talk to me about. When you found out that the school was dedicated to Michael and then what you've done to carry it forward. And I didn't find out until my phone call from the editor of the soon to a Marron. Warning my reaction to this school that was just dedicated tool to Michael. We went to little things he says well also a sign of the API on it and anyways. Was just step that this is what is Christmas tree synthesis. Says it's awesome. Keep getting these phone call thing that this phone calls out of the rate at eleven so now you know. Michael's memories is an internationally. I did some more investigating. And at the time. I was just entering into. The presidency. The suit to a Rotary Club. So I have to go to these screenings. And and I go and I gets and I got some. Pictures that effect and that an actual copy of the military. Moves like. Kinds of pitches of of the school in in in general Hammond you know give announced open and then I saw a little Afghanistan girl. Holding. A flag. From the Rotary Club and elements there my answer yeah. Nancy I can check out this you know so when I went to the for the training. I I found some of the monster. Road Kerrigan's. In introduce myself and then name knew exactly what was going on so. And the connection is is that when I come home from Afghanistan before I laughed. My mom had asked me will you take one of our flags with you she's route carrying my minister Brian and will you take pictures with it over there. And then they gave me a bunch of stuff to take with me to give to the kids. And so I had all of these pictures that I had been given I went to my mom's Rotary Club. And showed them all of the pictures and told them the story about the schools still at the time it hadn't been dedicated to Michael yet and I had no idea. Day you were in the rotary and then all of a sudden and you see the picture you reach out to the elements to Rotary Club and my mom comes to me and says wait a minute what if that's this. Cool you went too because his dad was a road cherry and it. And like all the world. Collided right was it was incredible. You know obviously what you just described its in the war poorest out of Afghanistan. And so. It's like casino on the Winston it's it's and that's all it's. The only way to describe it is that it literally. You're just on his big rocky mountain. And all the walls of the homes are just made out of rocks in its dirt pass I mean it really does. You could film a movie that took place 500 years ago right next to that school house and you would never right that's what it looks like. So naturally. You know we wanna do. Make sure that this school continued. When the school opened it and around a hundred children attending that school. Late today. This pretty close to 600 children. Keeping in mind it's eight rooms right that's it he rooms so they have sports actions. So it's on the morning some accuse me now. But you know those 600 kids there's girls write more importantly. There's a hundred and flighty girls. That and now attending that school. So as a road touring and you know weird it's. We try to take care of things internationally is as is also also locally. So that's one of our. International missions. Is to help Michael school. So over the years we've sent school supplies there. They had they had problem with the well the water well. I guess they deny higher winter rise the pump that he income. Anybody is lived in New England knows how you gonna winterize your pipes while they didn't do that and able to so we supplied them with. Now several hundred feet of pipe and a new well head to they have that. A year or so after that. I was told that you know that the notes rocky and in and they in the grounds that kids can have no safe place to play. And again it is a school yeah added to it's it's surrounded by a big wall. So it's safe for them inside that wall but there's no place to play they'll get hurt so. We hired. A company that would go in we bulldozers. And they bulldoze that area and made a playground. There's swings in all kinds of stuff and it. And little soccer field and thrown it away kids love that we gave it a soccer ball as they love soccer. So another have a place secured the soccer ball. We also supplied. You know hats Martin's. Coats. Now all of this material that we've been sending over and acquiring. Over the was through the help of another rotator. Wrote Ras he had John McCain is an Afghanistan woman. She has her own schools to schools now in Afghanistan. In Kabul. And they're for girls only. One is. Second higher education college you just opened up a college. And you know that you has from first grade to twelfth grade. So she got involved in Michael's school so she's my advocate if you will. The world from Michael school letting me know what's going on what's needed. And I give the money he takes the money over there and buys whatever she needs in this. He of Kabul. And she trucks and all the way to the mountainside where it with her group. And she visits Michael school several times a year. Because of the growth of the school. There wasn't enough teachers. They handle. You know the the additional student body. So we actually are she did and we pay for our club. Two more teachers we hire two more teachers. Wasn't all that expensive considering what. The rate is and in the united. Let's let's talk about that cost for a second I was saying that you know the absolute construction the school is about a 150 grant rice I'll Wear this thing is up in the middle of nowhere in the mountains right. You can understand why cost that much in a well is like 5000 dollar. It that the school supplies it what is a teacher Costin Michael's school. 150 dollars a month a month a month. To we we we highlighted two of them. I set to rise here aces now there is a and an educational ministry. In Afghanistan. And they responsible at all for the school he sizzle yeah they're responsible for the school they supply anything minerals plane. They do pay for the two initial teachers. Ice they scissors or any way you can approached. The ministry of education and and say gee you know weird that this school is growing more more to us and we need more teachers she got them. To ante up the money to pay for these two additional teachers so that relieve those of paying that hundred dollars a month right right. So. As things went on. Today the school. Is structurally sound. Except. That whoever was responsible for putting on the roof. Did shoddy job. So there are two out of the classrooms. To classrooms that when it rains. It range of society inside those two classrooms. As it does oats. So the school needs. A roof repair. And to repair those two rooms so the walls and on some of them. Obviously that's not done. The arm life span and that school is going to be. Really cut should end here you'd you'd have to take a student that I missed right right. So that that them more than maxed out now and their remorse more children and it would love to go. So. Rusty a got a quote for us. Of how much it would cost to get a reputable. Firm to command and fix the roof. To repay here on the roof. In to fix the two rooms at the damage wanted to what damage. Anywhere is between five to 6000 dollars. On an awful lot of money but it's an awful lot of money to fund raise addition record I know for for a wrote one Rotary Club to do that. I could apply for grants through the Rotary International. But that all takes time. For those routes to get approved and that sort of thing in the meantime. If it's gonna be replayed. It needs to be repeated now. During the warm weather okay there is no I'm in the rainy season and it's. And it gets really cold there every Aniston has not like Iraq. It's mountainous in the further up Yugo the colder it gets an gets really cold there in the wintertime. Right anybody that's been boots on ground over there will tell you. The winters in Afghanistan. It's like you it's cold. Scroll so that's one quote the other acquitted in that would fix the problem. And it probably would buy another ten years of soul for the school. Because it's it's it's a flat roof issued no okay so who's only so much you can do flat roof as ours repeat his. The other thing would be to permanently fix it and that would require a metal. You talk a lot more money because of the costs of metal knee ligament like 171000. Dollar six. I would be very happy with five to six. Let's get this win away let's open up those two more classrooms. OK let's get from a business as you know with this school. I you know I just thought this in my mind years ago when I first heard about prices you know education certainly certainly is a pathway to peace. Okay. This has been this is gonna debates. That has gone back and forth. With hearts and minds of the people in whatever watt what I learned when I was over there is that the average education of the average Afghani soldier. Is the third grade. Just to get him into the military to fight on the good side against the terrorists. They've got to be literate enough to get through the training. To be able to I mean imagine you know third graders and resting them into the military that's that's the education that they had. So you know you see a woman like. My allow talk about the importance of education especially girls education. When it comes to that part of the world in combating extremism. And terrorism. That it it is the only way to get people to understand. That the world is bigger. Then the extreme version of the religion and that's being forced on them by these terrorists and the only way to be financially independent. Is through education and he can't run a business if you can't. Read and write and counts. And so the only way moving forward you consent food. When it's gone it's gone the only way to continue this progress forward and hopefully come back extremism. And create longstanding peace. Is by taking his generation of kids in raising them. Through education and giving them the X. So that's why one of the reasons why we're here other than new. You know. He was field you can come here any time you know you're always welcome but you know we need your help via you know you you you have access to. You know wide range of various media. And we need to get the word out and I think. Your help we'll get that word on a lot quicker than I could. Possibly five or 6000 dollars to fix the school for the next ten years and at least give you the time. To raise the money to make a permanent fix exit and to get those kids back in school. It just doesn't make any sense to me that we can't raise this money. I I just don't we we've raised money for a lot of great things and people spend money on a lot more frivolous things. And the reason why I wanted you to minute talk about it now is that. Just like you know when we are talking with Colleen. Let's not forget what Memorial Day basis let's not forget why we have that day off let's not forget what that holiday represents. Fans per family or someone an individual that is looking to commemorate. That holiday correctly. Here's a perfect way. You can make a donation. To help these kids. In a place. That. Joseph there's you could have all the anger and be justified to have all the anger in the world because this is where your son died break. It would be very easy for you to take all of that negativity and say why what I wanna help those kits while wanna I wanna help the people there. That's who killed my son. What you understand it was those kids that did that and the only way to fight the guys that did to kill your son is to raise those kids. To be able to stand on their own two feet and not be victims of that same violence. And so for me it's speaks volumes. That the family of a fallen soldier from Massachusetts. Is doing so much work. For kids in a place that you never banned. To help people that you've never met. You remember your son I think is the most powerful tribute terrorists. And I really wanted you to come up here because of imploring people that are listening to this. That this is a great way you know a lot of times people to donate to charity but they're a little nervous about it the money's going the way they say they're going to what you gonna to the money and who's been in as a whatever. Your. You're you're sitting right in front of me saying this so much money we need. This is what we're doing with it and this is where it's going and this is what's gonna happen if we get it done and percent and it and it's that easy. Well the thing uses them like you said like I could easily turn my back on the school and pay attention to Indian and have hatred towards the Afghanistan. People. But that would this honor Michael not honor him. He chose to go to Afghanistan he volunteered. To go to Afghanistan. I need to honor that our family needs help on that. And this is one strong way to honor that now that school is still open. This still limping along this still almost 600 kids being taught there even though the school is in disrepair the roof. Now that's where. Buildings not to follow prime deteriorate is from the roof down if you got a bad roof you've got a problem and that structure. And it won't take long before we get it's to the line. So we definitely need your help. Help me to continue honoring my son. Okay. In. And I guess I'll do any of them went up one of my things in my bucket list. Everybody has a bucket list. Is to go visit that school Sunday. I'd love to go there is some really ward. That right now. I would love to see that happen and I feel guilt. Having been somewhere. It is on your lists. To go. Because I've ban that your son's school in new your his dad and you haven't been area right. And so anything that I can do to help you. Save that school keep it up and running keep it moving forward and then hopefully get that area to a place where. Your family could say you know what we're getting on a plane I'll tell you it's a long flight. That's like a day yeah. But I hope that bad does happen and because when you go there. And you have the experience that I had of meeting those kids. I think about them all the time and I know their faces. And you know Colleen sent me some more recent pictures of the kids going to school right and I haven't seen those kids in seven years. And they were little little kids when I was there and so here I am like looking at all these pictures trying to recognize and seat. What those kids would look like seven years later since I was there. And so I feel fortunate but I also feel guilty that I've been there and that you have in and I want that for you I want you to go in and meet these kids. And to see how grateful they are for the littlest of things aren't just the access to the education while I don't. I don't think you need to feel guilty that I think that because you with the air you understand more room coming from and I think on that you were there. Because you do understand the school you've you've you've been knees seeming detached it okay it does exist. Yeah material and then resonate is definitely in need. So and it's grown it continues to grow. It's it's it's not something that meant somebody put it up and it kind of blew away in the in the dust it's it's. It's barely dry and it's yeah. So was it what you guys are gonna do is you're gonna set out. And on line. Crowd funding pay HUS. So that people can just click on the link and make a donation. And need and know that all that money is going to school correct so we're gonna do is gonna put that link. In the description of this podcasts gradualist in this podcast you can just look right and that the description of the podcasts and that link. Is gonna go to fund this school and you just click on it and make a donation literally wireless into us right now. And there's no donation and small enough on board or big enough that it doesn't matter just the fact be willing to do it. And to take that five minutes and do it in Michael's memory. And keep this legacy moving forward and that's all we can ask right but I just refuse to believe that we can't it's. Raise five or 6000 dollars to fix the school and it's not that much money. In the grand scheme him some you know I mean if every person listening to this donated five box. We Rivera array when there you know and if you've got more to give that would be great ten boxer twelve or whatever it is. You know if you ever had. Soldier in your family. And you were fortunate enough that they came home. Make this donation or give him and yet have you ever served in the artillery. Here you go here's a perfect way to pay tribute to when your guy sees things. And it's you know anybody that's listening to this that doesn't have a tied the military but may be works in education. If you're a teacher if you work at a school. And you understand the value of education here in America imagine what it's worth over there. Just make a little bit of a donation and how ends. Knows that. It's a stat. It's it's not a cure tomorrow. But it's a step towards that. It's the only path towards freedom over there and peace over there I am I I've seen at all there. You know it's been happening for a long time there we've sent as many guns in as many bombs in as many whatever you can send over there and not just us a lot of countries have. And it's. Like when I say it looks like the Flintstones. It really is that you know the education is the only thing that's gonna progress that forward. Kids are innocent kid they would just know I tell people all the time I realized after. Went to the Middle East how fortunate I was to be born a woman in the United States aren't ones I already won powerball today I was born. Because you I could have very easily been born a girl over there. And and that girl that had no access to education and and it's you know I mean the average lifespan of an adult in Afghanistan is 46 or 48 years old. So the only way to move any of that forward is through education and it's happening because of your son's school. And schools like it. Well I really really hope that people that are listening to this are moved by the story. And then we can raise the money and I want you to keep me up to date on man who will. And I wanna know when this construction gets down because I know we can raise the money to get it done on some. Joy I really appreciate permanent and being so candid about something that is so sensitive and so close to your family's heart because. These are tough subjects to talk about but for the rest of us none of us will ever understand what your family has been through and the sacrifice that you've made. Unless someone like you is able to really sit down NTELOS. And so. You know your words are gifts to the rest of Johnson and the fact that you're so willing an open talk about your son. And his legacy and it's his service it means the world and I know I speak for everybody that's listening NIC thank. Thank you. Thank you very much. I think we're good. We thank. You wish for anything and we Rupert overall. So there it is. I am just so grateful for the gift of friendship of the Kelly Stanley. If you're touched by a Michael's story and it's about the mission and the Kelly family to sponsor this school and to finish this construction repair it. And move that legacy forward and continue these kids' education and please click on the link that is in the description and all of this podcast and make whatever donation you can afford. We're starting at zero. 171000. Dollars. And I'm hoping we can get there to permanently repair this school and keep those kids in school ends. Hopefully expand that school someday and get more kids in there. If you want more deet tails you can go to my blog at WA AF dot com I'm gonna put up on a bunch of photos that I took at the school when I was there in 2011. Others also video there as well that's that summit via financial statistics on the construction of the school's over there. And has got some video that we shot as well this project couldn't be closer to my heart. So please donate if you can please remember the meaning of Memorial Day thank you so much to all of our gold star families. And please keep them in your thoughts next weekend for Memorial Day. I always tell you to take a big bite out of a big piece. And that. Couldn't be more true with this podcast so thank you so much for listening to episode 21 of mr. scary sight peace podcast. You can leave a comment you can subscribe. On iTunes Google place stitcher all of the episodes are always up WA AF dot com. You can also get more details on me and I'll be posting a lot of links. About the school. You can follow mean on Twitter at mr. scary. An instrument FaceBook are at Mistress Carrie WA out. And not my step tennis mistress dot Carrey and I can always. Get some information about meters well. Thank you so much for listening and episode 22 is in the works.
READ MOREREAD LESS