Last November I highlighted the efforts of a group in Yorba Linda, CA to support military families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I encouraged readers to start similar groups and to donate to Families of Active Military. I am repeating that call and am publishing a current effort by the group with the hope that your support will be forthcoming. The group is headed by wonderful lady named Bridget Blehm (Bride33@aol.com) and this is her story in her words.
They Gathered Together for Two Fallen Marines
“Standing up for those who stand up for us”
We hear of the casualties almost on a daily basis from Operation Enduring Freedom and other military activities. It is always, always sad. When my husband and I first heard of the deaths of Lance Corporal (LCPL). Rick Centanni, 19 and Sergeant Major (SGM) Robert J. Cottle, 45, husband and father of an 8 month old baby girl, who were from Yorba Linda, it hit very close to home. Isn’t it something that the older veteran Yorba Linda Marine was with the young, if not apprentice Yorba Linda Marine? They didn’t know each other until the Marines and yet they died together, doing what they both loved doing the most – being a Marine and serving their country.
As were trying to determine how our organization, For Families of Active Military, might assist the families, I received an email from a friend, who is the friend of a friend of the SGM’s wife and family and has a connection to the Centanni family as well, asking if we could help. I put out an E blast and the responses were many.
We had an organizational meeting on Sunday to prepare for the week and began delivering meals on Monday. It was determined that the Centanni family was receiving more help than they could almost deal with, due to the high school friends of the LCPL., and the “law enforcement family” of his dad’s with the Santa Ana Police Department.
For the first week we were busy cooking for the SGM’s wife, mom, dad and step mom and his sister’s family. Emily, the SGM’s wife, who is an active duty Navy officer, left so quickly from Hawaii where she is stationed, that she didn’t have enough needed baby items with her. We’ve been assisting her with diapers, formula and baby food, etc.
Easter is this Sunday and when asked, the family was happy to allow us to purchase Easter baskets for the kids. We’ll be out this week buying an Easter outfit for their 8-month-old baby girl.
Our organization is about assisting the families of military personnel and the military member, when needed. Over the past several years, we’ve adopted families at Christmas; we have an annual Thanksgiving dinner; and assisted when one lost his home to the fires. We prepare “goody bags” for service members’ departures and their returns. Many have enjoyed “A Day of Disneyland” prior to deployment.
One of our future goals is to offer respite care to military families with handicapped children – do you know that 1 out of 10 service members has a family member with a special health care need and that 1 in 88 military children has a diagnosis of autism?
It’s been an honor and deeply rewarding experience to assist these two families, whose children sacrificed their lives for our country and us.
From the beginning and in the end, we gathered together to honor 2 fallen Marines. We’d like to thank the following friends and people from our organization for their loyalty, support and hard work; Janine and Lee McMillion, Mildred O’Linn, Gunda Schroeder, Marisa and Ron Mallory and their 3 children, Kathleen and Bruce Booch, Ron and Cathy Mallory, Jim and Rosalie Olson, James and Gina Blanchet and their family, Michele and Pat Woods, Sharon and Harold Cottrill, Maureen and Bob Zehntner, Ronnie and John Hogue, Tom and Karen Rosas, Doan Le, Norm Traub, Pat Schiada, Denise Dooley, Joanne Kapsales, Gwen Hoekstra, Mary Ellen Tourino, Lois Chisholm, Mary Chisholm, Jan Keith, Myriam and Denny Kouri, Chris Tanneous, Sally Molnar, Lois and Bob Mayo, Donna and Dale Wilt, Elizabeth Stitt, Jay Tomes, Kyle and Jose Berrios, Heidi and Bill Jarrett, Nick, Megan and Doreen Saba, Sandy and John DiLeo, Sandy Barnes, Bruce Nuttle, Dan and Carol Lewis, Barbara and Dave Sanders, Sandy and Jim Jobst, Sue and COL Bruce Clarke, Ret., World War II Vet, Gene Dick, members of the Los Angeles Police Department and in particular the LAPD SWAT Team.
May SGM. Robert J. Cottle and LCPL Rick Centanni rest in peace and may their families realize how the lives of their husband and children, effected us.
This is a very moving and heartfelt outpouring by some great people. I encourage every reader to contact Bridget (Bride33@aol.com) to ask how you can help our service members.
God bless the supporters of Families of Active Military.