Click Here For The 2021 Gold Star & Blue Shield Families
Air Force E1 Adrienne Barlow
Where did you grow up? Texas
When and why did you join the military? Joined military in 1988, a little more than one year after I graduated high school at 15 years of age.
Tours Served: Became injured on way to technical school for Air Force. Three decades later, the military finally recognized my discharge not as a separation but as an honorable discharge due to a very rare neuromuscular condition.
Please describe the nature of your injury: Disabled early and honorably discharged by condition I did not know I have. I am quadriplegic.
List your military awards and decorations: At 51 years old and after entering the Air Force at the age of 17, my case is still on appeal in Washington D.C. I consider never giving up the award and merit decoration.Tell us a little more about yourself! Seattle, WA. I am an entrepreneur for adaptive sports. after creating the adaptive side of a non-disabled sport. Using my scientific and analytical background, I hope to develop a sports classification system for integrated sports competition.
Tell us a little more about yourself! Seattle, WA. I am an entrepreneur for adaptive sports. after creating the adaptive side of a non-disabled sport. Using my scientific and analytical background, I hope to develop a sports classification system for integrated sports competition.
Army E-4 Maegan Bertwell
After dropping fuel at Baghdad airport, we were heading back to camp when a dust storm kicked up. The driver stopped because he could not see. The 4 trucks following, not knowing we stopped, rear-ended us one after another. Once home I had to have several surgery’s, knee, lumbar fusion, 2 cervical fusions.
Army E-5 SGT Angela Davis
I was a 92A, maintenance supply. Our MP units would escort and provide personal security, and they always had an open seat. I volunteered to go with them. And during that time we were involved with IEDs. They just treated me for concussion and the released me back to duty . So I didn’t know about the TBIs and skull fractures til after I got back home and started have grand mall seizures. At that time I was discharged.
Marine SSgt Jerry Ferris
Where did you grow up? Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also lived in Walnut Hills, Evanston, O’Byronville, and Madisonville, Ohio
When and why did you join the military? I joined the US Marine Corps on March 10, 1967, and left for boot camp in San Diego, California, on July 7, 1967. I joined because the country called, and I answered. I had many family members who served this country, so it was my duty to follow suit.
Tours served: I served 2 tours of duty in Vietnam. I also served in Okinawa at camp Hanson, Guam at camp Smedley Butler, and the Philippines at Sangley point. I was also NCOIC of security at the American embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Please describe the nature of your injury: Wounded in a firefight in hue city, wounded in Phu Bi, wounded in Quang Tri.
List your military awards and decorations: I was an e-6 staff Sgt. upon discharge. I have received the Bronze Star with the “V” device. Three Purple Heart Medals, National Defense, Vietnamese Service Medal, two Vietnam Cross of Gallantry medals, Navy Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, rifle, and pistol expert.
Tell us a little more about yourself! I am currently in Springboro, Ohio, and have been for the last 42 years. My hobbies are golfing, bowling, and target shooting. I’m married to my wife, Darlene, and will celebrate 47 years on June 15, 2021. We have one son, who served 8 years in the navy and has been a major airline pilot for the past 14 years. He flies for southwest airlines. His wife, my daughter-in-law, also flies for Skywest. We have three grandkids, olive 5, Cruz 7, and Hudson 9 years old.
Army SPC Steven Heberlein
Where did you grow up? Nevada
When and why did you join the military? I joined in 2008. It had been my child dream job
Tours Served: Afghanistan
Please describe the nature of your injury: And IED blast fractured my spine.
List your military awards and decorations: Purple Heart, CAB
Tell us a little more about yourself! Sturgis SD. Hobbies are fishing and hiking
Army SGT Daniel Krause
Where did you grow up? Butler, PA
When and why did you join the military? July 2005-school was not for me
Tours Served: Iraq 2008-2009, Afghanistan 2010-2011, 2012-2013
Please describe the nature of your injury: Vehicle got hit by an IED
List your military awards and decorations: Purple Heart, Accommodation Medal-5, Good Conduct Medal
Tell us a little more about yourself! Oakbrook Terrace, IL, Hobbies-enjoying sports and spending time with friends
Army SGM Eric McCullough
Where did you grow up? All over the world, but originally from Montrose, Colorado
When and why did you join the military? Departed for Basic Training in July 1997. Joined as a means to better my life for my 1 year old son.
Tours Served: Assignments included 525th Military Intelligence Brigade from May 1998 – August 2000 (F/51st LRSC and A/319th MIBN); 82nd Airborne Division from August 2000 – July 2006 (A/313th MIBN <ISO 504th INF BDE>, HHC/313th MIBN; C/313th MIBN <ISO 505th INF BDE>; B/505th BSTB); 1st CIG (A) (USASOC) from July 2006 – Present
Combat Deployments include Bosnia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Horn of Africa, West Africa (cumalative time ~54 Months)
Humanuitarian Deployments include Task Force Dragon (Hurrican Katrina – NOLA and Hurricane Rita – Lake Charles) in 2005
Please describe the nature of your injury: I’ve been involved in deployments in which I was directly involved in combat operations with both direct and indirect fire (incoming and outgoing). Multiple instances of indirect fire (mortars/rockets) landing within 20m of my physical location. I was the turret gunner of an unarmored vehicle targeted by an IED. Fortunately the detonation occurred before my vehicle was close enough to sustain damage.
List your military awards and decorations: Bronze Star, DMSM, MSM, JCOM, ARCOM, JSAM, AAM, PUC, JMUA, VUC, MUC, AGC, NDS, AFE, Afgh Campaign, GWOTE, GWOTS, Hum Service, MOVSM, NCOPD, Army Service, AOS, NATO, Combat Action Badge, MFF Jumpmaster and Instructor, Parachutist Badge (Master Rated), Senior Aviation (Crew Member), US Army Recruiter Badge
Tell us a little more about yourself! Pasadena, Maryland; Hobbies include trail running, hiking, MTB, SUP, fishing and of course, skydiving; two sons and my girlfriend who has one daughter and one son
Army Sergeant Major Mike McGouldrick (Retired)
Where did you grow up? Connecticut and in the Army
When and why did you join the military? 1980 because it was better than jail
Tours Served: Dec 81 to Jan 16
Please describe the nature of your injury: IED on 22 Apr 2007 in Dywania IRAQ and Rocket attack 7 July 2007
List your military awards and decorations: LOM, BS, MSM, 6ARCOM, 8 AAM, 6 OSR, OIF, MFO, and more, waiting on PH.
Tell us a little more about yourself! Helena Montana, where I fish, Hunt, reload, have a sig-other, and 3 grown kids.
Marine E3 Raymond Mestas
Where did you grow up? Chicago, Il…Virginia Beach, VA…Mcallen, TX
When and why did you join the military? November 2005 enlisted in the USMC as a Infantry Rifleman because my family has a tradition of serving in the military and our country was at war.
Tours Served: Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006-07 and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2008
Please describe the nature of your injury: I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2005 as an 0311 infantrymen. I was stationed in 29 palms, CA with 2/7 Fox Company. We deployed to Al Anbar Province, Iraq in 2008. I received the meritorious mast award in the summer of 2008 for neutralizing a sniper threat to our patrol. We deployed to Nowzad, Afghanistan in 2008. I was wounded by the first IED while on dismounted patrol in June of 2008 when a marine in front of me stepped on an IED, the blast threw me into a wall and caused momentary unconsciousness. I struck another IED in July of 2008 while driving a Humvee. I was medevac’d by helicopter to the hospital at Camp Bastion. I was able to return to my unit several weeks later. First day returning to my squad we struck another IED while I was in the turret on night patrol. I lost consciousness temporarily and had a concussion. I was taken off patrol schedule for 2 weeks since both concussions were in such a close time frame together. I discharged from the marine corps in 2009
List your military awards and decorations: Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Meritorious Mast for actions performed during direct sniper fire.
Tell us a little more about yourself! I live in Norfolk, Virginia with my wife and 12 year old son. I enjoy any outdoor activities including fishing and hunting. I am always interested in trying new outdoor activities
Army SGT Matthew Miller
Marine E-4 Travis Osborne
Air Force SSGT Maggie Peterson
Where did you grow up? Hayward, WI
When and why did you join the military? I joined the Air Force in 1994. I joined because I come from a family that served. Both grandfathers served (WWI and WWII), my dad served in the Army for 35 years and all 3 of my older brothers served in the Air Force.
Tours Served: Operation Desert Storm, Operation Southern Watch (twice), Operation Joint Guard, Operation Just Cause, Operation Joint Forge, and Operation Enduring Freedom
Please describe the nature of your injury: I don’t have one specific injury. I am 100% service connected for anxiety, headaches, knees, spine, and a few other things.
List your military awards and decorations: Air Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal w/2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Combat Readiness Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Saudi Arabia
Tell us a little more about yourself! I currently live in Houston, TX. I have two daughters (Destinie, 25 and Marisa, 19). I enjoy working out, cycling, hiking, scuba diving, reading, traveling and volunteering in the veteran community.
Marine Sgt Richard Schroeder
Where did you grow up? West Allis, Wisconsin
When and why did you join the military? Signed up November, 1966. I received my draft notice to join the Army. Instead, I enlisted in the Marines. The Marines offered a 120-day delay program, so I didn’t have to go active until January, 1967.
Tours Served: Military Assignments:
• Qualified Expert with the M14 during the two-week rifleman course at Camp Pendleton, CA, in May 1967, and attended the three-week scout sniper school in July 1967
• Arrived in Vietnam, September 1967 – assigned to a scout sniper platoon HDG 4th Marines 3rd Marine Division
• First combat experience while being attached to Grunt Company 2/4 – September 1967
• Ran squad-size sniper patrols in A Shau Valley – October 1967
• Assigned to Combat Base Camp Evans – February 1968
• Assigned to Combat Base Rock Pile – March 1968
• Assigned to Combat Base Camp Carroll – April – September 1968; extended October 1968 – May 1969
Please describe the nature of your injury: Significant heart disease and other medical issues due to Agent Orange exposure. Also, PTSD as a result of my service.
List your military awards and decorations:
• National Defense Service Medal
• Vietnam Service Medal w/3 stars
• Vietnam Campaign Medal w/device
• Combat Action Ribbon
• Rifle Expert Badge
• Good Conduct Medal
• Navy Achievement Medal w/Combat “V” (Meritorious Service from September 1967 – February 1969)
Veterans Organization Activities:
• Active Volunteer for Disabled American Veterans (DAV) for the last 10 years
• Life Member of DAV Chapter 19
• Member of American Legion Post 449
• Participant on the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight – November 2017
Tell us a little more about yourself! Currently live in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. I enjoy showing my 1967 Chevelle at veteran’s car shows. I am married to Kathy and have one son, Scott.
Army SFC Douglas Shreve
Where did you grow up? I was born in Oceanside, NY- grew up there and Oklahoma City.
When and why did you join the military? Feb 1996/ I wanted to serve my country like my father, uncles, and grandfather did. I also wanted to explore and travel.
Tours Served: Korea 1996-1997, Saudi 1997-1998, Iraq 2003-2004, and Afghanistan 2006-2007
Please describe the nature of your injury: I was blown up by an IED. I was thrown 30 feet from the truck by the blast. I suffer injuries to my neck, back both shoulders, both knees and tbi.
List your military awards and decorations: The Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal 4th Award, Army Achievement Medal 5th Award, Iraq Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Stars, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Stars, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Combat Action Badge, NATO Medal, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Award to name a few
Tell us a little more about yourself! I live in Hockley, Texas. I am married and between my wife and I we have 6 kids. Only one lives at home and we also have 2 labs, I enjoy fishing, hunting, and traveling with the family.
Marine Cpl Michael Tabor
On 11/25/2006, Michael was the point man of a dismounted patrol in Anah, Iraq. He was hit by a control detonated IED. He had a piece of shrapnel tear through his left thigh, entering from the rear and resting millimeters from his femoral artery. He was flown to Al Asad and had the shrapnel removed on site. He also suffers from TBI from multiple explosions throughout his two deployments, causing severe migraines.
Army CPL Mike Vasquez
In 2008-2009 Mike deployed to Afghanistan as an Infantryman team leader to provide Protective Security Detail for Military Intelligence soldiers and worked as a Human Intelligence exploitation expert as a secondary role. Mike’s roles as a team leader were: machine gunner, Squad Designated Marksman, multimedia exploitation expert, UGS (unmanned ground sensors/cameras) emplacer/operator and was frequently attached to two SF units: ODA 9224 and 2221 of 19th group Special Forces as a machine gunner when needed.
Mike’s main role in Afghanistan was to protect the M.I. soldiers, but also to use his trained-ability to go behind enemy lines and emplace hidden and camouflaged cameras to monitor the enemy’s movement and to act as a counter-IED task force team leader who helped eliminated the threat of IED emplacing Taliban and IEDs in certain areas before they could be used against coalition forces. Mike also specialized in multimedia exploitation which involved acquiring the enemy’s media devices such as cell phones and hard drives and extracting vital information that led to vital intelligence and the capturing or eliminating of Taliban leaders and fighters.
On 10 July 2009 while on a mission with the 636 M.I. team and ODA 9224 Mike’s vehicle was hit with RPGs and small arms fire severely injuring him in the gunner’s turret and his team members inside. He continued to engage the enemy and eliminate the threat to help get other injured comrades to safety by being medevac’d. Mike was also medevac’d and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, Chiari malformation (acquired), spinal contusion, shrapnel, abdominal wounds, partial blindness, left side paralysis, and other smaller injuries.
Mike recovered at BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center) at Ft. Sam Houston, TX and was discharged finally on 10 February 2010.
On 23 July 2013 Mike had brain surgery to help with his brain condition that was a direct result from the TBI in Afghanistan which contributed to the loss of use of both of his legs and feet. Mike is forever bound to a wheelchair now and is a paraplegic from the waist down.
Army CW3 Ryan Weaver
Also see Gold Stars Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy Billings and Aaron Weaver
Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3) Ryan Weaver joined the Army right after high school. After several years of working as a Military Intelligence Analyst, Ryan followed in the footsteps of his two older brothers, Steve and Aaron, by attending Warrant Officer Candidate School and flight school. He graduated top of his class in flight school, becoming a Black Hawk Aviator. In April 2003, he deployed to Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. Shortly after, one of his brothers, Aaron, was deployed just west of him in Fallujah.
On January 8, 2004, Aaron was killed in action when the Medivac helicopter he was a passenger in was shot down by enemy fire. Ryan certainly understood mortality and the risks of combat… After all, Aaron had survived the bloody 1993 battle in Mogadishu, Somalia – the same battle that became the basis for the movie, Black Hawk Down. When Aaron died, however, something changed for Ryan. He returned from combat, taking a new position training the next generation of Army aviators and officers at Fort Rucker, Alabama and has not piloted a Black Hawk since that fateful day.
On December 17, 2013 Ryan’s brother-in-law, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy Billings, was killed in action in Afghanistan when the Black Hawk helicopter he was piloting was shot down by an enemy ground-detonated explosive device. This second heartbreaking loss made the Weaver family a two-time Gold Star family.
Army SGT Mike Wright
Where did you grow up? Stratford CT
Air Force E6 Rodger Zink
Where did you grow up? 3rd Gen Brat but mostly Osage, Wyoming
When and why did you join the military? New Jersey, Sept 1rst 2001
Tours Served: Kuwait, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and SW US Border
Please describe the nature of your injury: Camp Leatherneck Afghanistan was over run and i have TBI and brain injuries
List your military awards and decorations: Outstanding Unit Award X3 1 with Valor (downgraded Bronze Star) 4 AF Achievements, 1 Army Achievement, 5 Meritorious Service Medals (res), Nuclear Deterrence, Nato, Iraq, Afghan Campaign, various others. Rejected Purple Heart (Stupid in hindsight)
Tell us a little more about yourself! Currently live in Dayton Area SW Ohio, Competitive Shooter, Photographer, Extra class Licensed Ham Radio Op.