“Serving Heroes” Operation Bald Eagle was something that came to fruition in June 2009. I had always been geared towards service towards community and country. I had served in law enforcement and on several military charities over the years. I decided that I wanted to do something myself in 2009 to give back to those who protected our communities and our country.
Operation Bald Eagle was chosen because when I had thought of all the different charities and service. The bald eagle was the most patriotic symbol absent our flag and it seemed to roll off the tongue well too. I chose the three gold stars to represent the fallen military (largest star centered) and the law enforcement and fire from left to right respectively.
When I started the organization it was about serving fallen families and care packages to the troops in Iraq/Afghanistan. But as our first year progressed I began to realize what we entered into was much bigger. We wanted to give back in a much larger fashion just as those who we were serving. I poured my life savings into what has turned out to be the most rewarding event of my life.
Now serving in capacities of gaining supplies throughout the year for military families through programs such as: “Picnic for Patriots” (4th of July supplies), “Backpacks for Heroes” (School Supplies), Thanksgiving Dinners & Toys for Troops for fallen and military families at Christmas. The hardest part of my day is when I have to deny a request that we aren’t able to fulfill. The families that we deal with are some of the most appreciative and sacrificing that I have ever met.
From the firefighter and wife I met on October 31st, 2009 who lost their 20 year old son who we helped pay for their burial. To the Christmas recipient families that accepted our toys. To the father of a 4th generation Marine who said that until the day he met me he was thinking of swallowing a bullet because the loss of his son was so difficult to deal with until he found that he could do something in his son’s name that he would have wanted. I came to realize that we all have tough days but these families go through depths I can’t ever imagine and they are the most courageous people you will meet.
It’s what drives me to do what I do. I was conducting a fundraiser for a 26 year old Marine dying from brain cancer who had just returned from Iraq. He had a two year old daughter and just found out that his wife was pregnant with their next child. He was just told he had six months left to live. One lady asked me: “Why do you do this? If a garbage man died would you care about him?” I replied: “Ma’am all life is precious. But this young man could have done anything. But he decided that he wanted to serve his country and put his life in harms way so that you and I can enjoy the freedoms we do every day. Like going to a restaurant, movie or many of the other things we take for granted every day. And this young man now will have less than six months left to live. Do you get why I think he deserves a little more now?” She responded: “I get it. Thank you.”
Let us never forget those who put on the shield or uniform to ensure our communities and countries safety.
Contact Jeff at (385) 282-5221 and visit www.operationbaldeagle.org.
Jeffrey Mitchell At Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland in May 2013 with Eric Hunter, his wife Kenna and Miss Pacific Islander Whitney Matagi.