Friday, February 25, 2011

WOW moments

There are certain times in life when something happens and you sit back and wonder, WHAT JUST HAPPENED? We just had one of those.

At the beginning of this week, I got a phone call from a retired Master Gunz stating he needed urgent help for a young wounded warrior in our state. I won't go into deep detail on what has happened to this young man but he was in a dire situation. He was wounded in 2008, medically retired out in 2010. A series of very unfortunate things have happened to him.

The Master Gunz called us because he lives out of state and he knows of what Taylor does and come to find out, we only live about an hour away from this Marine. So, I made a phone call to this Marine and we talked. At first, he was very humble and not forth coming with information, when I told him what I knew, he kind of cracked just enough to let me know how bad things were. I was on the phone all night long networking with people and help starting pouring in that night for him. I talked with the Marine again the next day and while we were talking, he told me that my name kept coming into his head. Now this young man suffers from TBI and PTSD and I was thinking to myself that his TBI was the reason why he was having a hard time and he had just gotten overwhelmed very quickly with help coming in and I had talked to him several times. and that is why my name kept coming into his head.

He then said to me something that made my jaw literally drop. He asked me if I had a daughter named Taylor and I told him yes, we had talked about her the night before. He said he remembered that, but that he also remembered something else.

Last year, Taylor was invited out to CA for an Iwo Jima reunion in San Fransisco (I have YET to blog about that!) But while there, it was set up for her to visit the wounded at the Palo Alto Poly Trauma unit. This young Marine told me he remembered my name and Taylor because HE WAS ONE OF THE WOUNDED WE VISITED!!

I was completely shocked. How can Taylor have gone to visit wounded warriors all the way out in CA and almost exactly a year later, in her own state, a plea came to her to help out a fellow Marine and it turns out to be one that she met and visited in CA??? We feel this has happened for a reason and it is so much of a WOW moment, that we have now adopted this young man into our family.

We will give him all the support we can, we will help him in all the ways that we can, we will not ever let him be alone nor feel abandoned again, he will never go hungry, he will know someone does care. Why? Because he IS a Marine, Taylor is a Marine and they never give up on one another and they never leave one behind. They were brought back together and I have a feeling, this is just the start of many good things to come this young man's way.......Taylor has many plans for him!

On a side note* When Taylor did her big blanket drive and sent everything to Afghanistan, a Major from one of those units is now living in our state and we have been able to talk and he and Taylor are finally going to meet! She sends stuff to Afghanistan and gets to meet someone from that? Sure are some feel good moments going on with Taylor right now!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Updates???

Well, I shamefully looked at my last update and it was in Sept. I said then I would add pictures and update on everything and it didn't happen. I have gotten several emails asking what Taylor has been up to and or if she has stopped her support because there has been no updates to see. The answer is........GET REAL!!!!! If anyone has to ask if Taylor has 'stopped' well you just don't even know my little Gunny do you?!

My health took a not so nice turn and I have just been busy with work and on the brink of exhaustion and my brain just doesn't have the get up and go it had a while back, but I am working on getting back to normal. While it may have stopped me from posting updates, rest assured, Taylor STILL IS FIGHTING FOR HER MARINES, the wounded, ALL military and veterans.

She just turned 17, how can that be? She wasn't even supposed to make it and here she is, 17 years later, taking care of what needs to be taken care of and doing it with complete conviction in what she is doing. Each day with her is a gift, we know this. Some days are much better then others, but she is here and that is what we focus in on. She is here with us, trying to make the world a better understanding world for our military. Trying to make the world understand our heroes, past and present. Trying to make the world see that they must stand behind our troops and do the right thing and SUPPORT.

I am so sorry I have neglected this blog and I have neglected to write down the many wonderful things she has experienced in the last year and the heroes that have crossed her path, whether it be her seeking them out or them seeking her out. I WILL TRY TO DO BETTER!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Updates

I must apologize, I have been VERY lax in my updates on Taylor, the things she has done and the wonderful people that have come into her life. I have a million excuses, but are any of them worthy of not keeping this updated??

So much has happened since my last update, and I WILL get to those SOON. A teaser.....

Taylor was invited by a wonderful friend to an IWO JIMA veterans reunion in San Fransico and it was more then amazing! She has befriended several more wounded warriors, done an escort of the Ride With the 40 and just recently, got to meet a first responder from 9-11.

School just started and she is now in the 11th grade which in incredibly hard for me to comprehend. She is still this small little thing and when I look at her physically, I still see a young girl. However, in age and spirit, she is anything but a young girl.

She has meet so many veterans and ones that she is so proud to call a friend now. I always love when she gets to meet an older veteran, she starts to talk to them and very soon after the conversation starts, they have a smile that comes across their face that is hard to describe. It isn't the smile of 'nice to meet you' but a smile from deep within their souls. It is something that is hard to describe.

We have suffered the loss of a dear friend of ours and Taylor took it very hard. However, she was SO proud of the send off we gave to our dear dear 'Dirtbike', while he never served, he over came some huge hurdles and was the truest of patriots you could ever meet. He and her shared the deep love and compassion for our troops and veterans.

I now have a new scanner and will be able to post pictures, I just have to find the time to get it set up, the pictures down loaded and then I will start posting again. I will do it SOON!

Thank you all for being a part of Taylor's life, and for being patient with me on my lack of updates!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blankets sent


As most of you know, Taylor held a blanket drive for the troops. People were so generous in helping her, giving blankets and or money to help ship, as well as Bob Cook who gave up a few hours of his time to give Taylor boxes to ship these in and then helped pack them up, all 21 boxes and then help load them up to take to the post office and haul them there and then help me unload them all. Boy, that was a bit of work!

I am proud to say that Taylor shipped out over 170 blankets, 21 boxes total. We have more here that came in after the first shipping went out and they will be going out soon.

We sent these out a week before Christmas and I was completely shocked when we got an email from a MSgt. stating they got some boxes from Taylor and were a bit puzzled by who GySgt Taylor Batten was and then by the amount of boxes they got!!! They read a note from Taylor, saw a picture of her and a letter that I wrote to them about Taylor. I wanted whoever that got these blankets to know about her and why she was sending them.

Taylor picked out a Marine unit and then the 82nd Airborne to send the blankets to. I was very proud of her for that, she could have very easily just sent all the blankets to her Marines, but she loves Army to and they are over there as well, so it was HER choice to send half to each unit.

Now we were shocked that the blankets got there so fast, but also in what this MSgt. said. It just goes to show how small of a world it really is. The MSgt. was so touched by what Taylor did and the letter, he showed it to his command and to his XO. Guess what? That XO happens to be none other then Taylor's beloved Major B!!!! Taylor just shrieked when she read that! What are the chances that out of all the deployed Marines, she sends off to a unit and someone in there happens to know her personally?! We have laughed several times over this. For those that don't know of the story of Major B, scroll down and you will find their story in her blog.

What has become of this has been pretty emotional for us. Taylor's letter and story has been passed around this Marine unit and she has gotten several emails from those guys. Then, the story was posted on their official website and now she is getting emails from family members. I have cried several times tonight already. I am with Taylor and I know she is amazing and I know what she does is amazing, but when you see it all the time, I guess I have become 'used' to it. It is just Taylor's normal, if that makes any sense. But then to get emails from guys that are in a war zone, thanking HER for being there for them, well, it snaps me right back into reality. When I read an email from a mom whose son is on his first deployment and had been involved in an IED attack with one of his friends being hurt, it snapped me back to reality. The reality of just how special my child is and just how amazing she is.

She continues her fight for herself each day, yet never looks for herself, but beyond. She looks out for what she can do make sure her troops feel they are loved and taken care of. That they know they are doing something worthwhile, that they matter. Now the in turn are doing the very same for Taylor.

I am not sure if I am able to post the website information of the unit she sent to and what they have on their webpage. I will ask if I can post it and if I can, I will do so.

I want to thank everyone that has helped Taylor make this blanket drive the success it was, even if only 1 blanket had been collected, it would have been a success to her because that is 1 person that would have been touched. But as it is, it is hundreds of people that have been touched. Not just by those that got blankets and kept them, but by those that got blankets and then handed them over to someone else who needed it more then they did, or an Afghani child. It has touched parents of those whose child is that Marine over there. It has come back and touched us as well.

Thank you everyone!

Marine Corps Ball



Taylor finally got to go to her first Marine Corps Ball! She was so excited and it was such a nice evening for her. I have to tell you though, it took some encouraging to get her to go in a DRESS! She looked beautiful and she had fun being around all the Marines.

The ceremony included one of her good friends, Adolf Kalafut, Iwo Jima veteran. He was the guest of honor and he is a wonderful man to know. He is also a wounded warrior, and that brings him even closer to Taylor's heart. He loves her so and many times when talking to her, he gets tears in his eyes and he just keeps on hugging her. It is such an honor for her to know him and to be able to call him a friend and a Marine brother.
As the evening wore on and the dancing started, boy did we get some laughs!!! Marines sure do look great in their blues, but they also sure do look GOOFY in those blues when they have 'indulged' and then get out on the dance floor!!!!!

I got Taylor's picture taken and it was one of those moments that after it happened and you walk away, you smack yourself in the head and go DOH! Here she was standing around all these fine looking Marines, and I didn't for a minute think to have them all come up with her to have their picture taken with her. WHAT WAS I THINKING?! Well, there is always next year.

She had a wonderful time celebrating the Marine Corps birthday in fine fashion and with those that she loves the most.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dining to Donate Update

The Sturgis Applebee's has agreed to come on board and help as well. The coupon, even though it says Three Rivers, CAN BE USED at the Sturgis one. The date is only for Nov. 24, please come out and help Taylor with this great cause!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dining to Donate


We were very fortunate in getting Applebee's to help out on Taylor's blanket drive. On November 24, anyone coming into the Three Rivers Applebee's and having the posted coupon, 20% of those proceeds will go to Taylor for shipping the blankets to Afghanistan and clothing to the wounded in Germany to fly back home in. Applebee's is being very generous in allowing the 20% of all proceeds with coupons and in the time, they are doing it from open until close and we are so thankful to them for this help.

We would love to see you on November 24! Copy off the coupon, or email us and we will get one sent to you and PLEASE send it on to others you think would be willing to help as well!

BLANKET DRIVE


Taylor is holding a blanket drive once again for the troops in Afghanistan. She will be collecting blankets until Nov. 30. Drop off points are the Mendon Post Office and the Napa Automotive Store in Mendon. Posted is a flyer for the drive should you have any questions. Please, pass this on to anyone you think might want to help her, either by donating a blanket or by donating money for shipping. Anyone that sends out care packages knows just how outrageous postage is for boxes. She also has several boxes of clothing to send to Germany for the wounded, so any help she can get, we would greatly appreciate! THANK YOU

Speaking from the heart

There are just some days that I still get amazed by Taylor. I live with her and am with her almost every minute other then when she is at school. I know what she has done, I know what she does, I know what she has had to endure, yet, every once in awhile I am taken aback by her. She did it to me just recently.

She was called and asked to speak at a Phi Theta Kappa honors conference. Taylor thought about what she wanted to say, then asked if she could just write it down and read off of it. I told her of course she could, after all, we see many adults do it that way. So, that is just what she did.

I sat in the room listening to her talk. Her body looking so tiny, her voice started out pretty soft. But as she went on, she seemed to get taller and her voice definitely commanded attention. This is what she had to say:

Hello, my name is Taylor Batten. Many call me Gunny, that is because I am an honorary Gunnery Sergeant for the United States Marine Corps. Not bad for a 15 year old girl how has a major medical problem! I am 15 and I go to Mendon High School.

First off, I would like to thank you for having me here. It means a lot to me that someone is wanting to hear my story and hopefully, I will be able to encourage some of you to help out with our troops.

I know that I am going to be speaking next weekend here again, so today if it is ok, I will just tell a shortened version.

I am reading off of this paper because sometimes it is hard for me to speak without reading. I have Turner Syndrome. Turner Syndrome is an extremely rare medical condition, it only effects girls and only less then 1% even survive birth. I was one of the lucky ones, but I didn't always feel that way. Turner Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder, I am missing a chromosome. Because of that, I am missing miles and miles of genetic make up. It has caused all sorts of medical problems for me. Sometimes, my brain doesn't process information like everyone else's does, it just fires differently. My body produces growth hormone, but it resists it, that is why I am on the shorter side. I also don't produce estrogen and because of that, I have low bone density already. I have several other things going on as well, but the biggest thing is my heart. I have already had heart surgery at the age of 6 months old. Right now, I have several leaking valves, one valve that has only 2 flaps instead of 3 and my aorta is really enlarged and it is dangerous for me to play any sports. So, I can't.

Because I can't play sports, I try to do other things with my time. When the war started, I wanted to do something. I was pretty young then, but I just knew I had to do something. I have always loved my country and I am very proud to be an American. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

My mom didn't know what to do though to help me. She kept asking people what we could do and finally, one day someone sent to us a link to go to a website called www.anysoldier.com My mom and I went to that website and there they had all these service members who were deployed to Iraq and they were asking for all sorts of things. It was sad to see what they were asking for because we thought just like everyone else, we thought that the government took care of everything they needed. But that isn't true. They were asking for simple things, things we take for granted every day.

They needed food, can you believe that? Now imagine being put into a hot desert. The temps are 110. It is really to hot to eat, but you know you have to. Now imagine, in order to get that food, you have to put on all your battle gear which can weigh a lot and then you have to walk to your chow hall. If you are in a small base, the walk might not be that far. If you are on a larger base, the walk could be over a mile away. So, many of these guys weren't going to the chow hall to get what they needed. Small snacks for in their tents, perfect.

They asked for soap, deodorant, toothpaste, pillows, sheets, magazines and newspapers. They don't have TV's everywhere to watch or radios to just turn on like we do here. There were even a few medics asking for Band-Aids, Tylenol, antibacterial ointments. Yes, they do have PX's there, that is like a store. But many times, they aren't stocked on a regular basis and if they are, you had to be right there as soon as it was because everything was in such high demand. They many times though were stocked with really odd things, like vacuum cleaner bags, no vacuums though. What are they going to vacuum up there anyways, the desert floor? Or maybe 3 types of denture cream, no toothpaste though. One even had a baby car carrier in there.

The one thing they mostly asked for was support from home. They didn't want to be forgotten. They needed to know that we care. So, that is what I did. I sent letters and care packages. I did what I could do and somehow, the Marines heard about me. Because of my medical condition, I can't be in the military. They decided that I was doing a good job for the deployed and our country, so they made me a Marine.

Before that, I was pretty sick all the time. Many times, it was hard for me to even get out of bed. I had a lot of doctor visits and a lot of not good things happen to me and I was always scared to go to any type of doctor. I used to fight it. But, when I became a Marine, something changed. I felt so much stronger inside. I decided that if our guys were doing what they were doing, I could do what I needed to do and I did.

I am still sick and I still get tired a lot, but not how I used to. Because of all the medical stuff I had been through and some of it was really bad, I kind of felt like I knew what our wounded were going through when they were at the hospital. I had to go to Washington DC to the National Institute of Health for medical testing. Right across the road is the National Naval Medical Center. That is where all of our wounded Marines go to when they are wounded. It was set up for me to go visit with them, that was when I was 12. It was an incredible day. I got to visit with some really badly injured guys. What I saw that day made me even stronger. They were hurt really bad, but they were fighting to get better and some of them were even fighting just to stay alive. Many of them were able to talk to me. It was strange for them I am sure. They were hard core warriors and here I was a 12 year old kid, but I understood them and they felt it. The Lt. Col. in charge there told my mom he had never seen anything like it before, how the guys were with me.

Because of that visit, I got invited to go to the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. I got to spend a whole week there, visiting and being with the Marines. The main part of the visit though was to spend time at the Wounded Warrior Barracks. It is for guys that were injured and they were well enough to get out of the hospital, but not well enough to do anything else. They are able to be at the Wounded Warrior Barracks with other wounded and that is so important. They don't feel alone and they still have that deep camaraderie that the military have. I got to talk with so many of the wounded and I got to be a part of their lives. I am still friends with many of them now. I also got my promotion to Gunnery Sergeant there.

I raise money to help the wounded and I do many other things for them. Again, many people think our government takes care of these guys and again, it isn't quiet true. Some of them come home and then there is all this governmental red tape they have to go through. Some of them don't get any type of money or assistance at all for several months to up to a year or longer. Many of them have lost their homes because of it. Almost all of them have emotional issues. Their injuries are often life altering. Some, the injuries aren't on the outside, but on the inside. They, just like our deployed, need to know they are not forgotten and that someone cares. I know how they feel.

I know that I am now stronger on the inside and outside because of them. I won't give up on them and they won't give up on me.

I have become friends with so many veterans. In fact, I held a card drive and I got cards sent from all over the United States to give to veterans in nursing homes. I have gone to a couple of nursing homes in our area and gave cards and then I just got to visit the Grand Rapids Veterans Home. I took several hundred cards there and I was able to give them all out. Many of the veterans are old and have no family to visit them. Some of them, when they opened their cards, cried. They cried because someone said THANK YOU to them. They have no one to visit, no one to talk to other then the other vets there.

None of us can know what these deployed, wounded and veterans have gone through. We can only imagine. Think of how it would be for you to be taken away from your family and friends and then shipped off to a foreign land. Think of how you would feel being in 110 plus degree heat day in and day out, having to wear up to 70 lbs of battle gear, not being able to take a shower for days and sometimes, weeks. Wearing the same clothes over and over again. Think of how it would be, knowing there are bad people out there and their sole purpose was to kill you. Every piece of trash along side the road might be a bomb, every person walking towards you might kill you or harm you. Going from town to town, knowing people didn't want you there and in fact, hated you. Knowing bad things happened to those that did step up and help you. You can't go home, you can't sleep when you want to, you can't eat when and what you want to.

Think of how you would feel if you got shot, lost an arm, leg, an eye. Or, you lost one of your best friends because they didn't make it from their wounds. Even if you didn't get hurt, inside you are holding onto things because some of it goes against complete human nature.

That is what our guys face every day they are deployed. That is what our veterans hold onto when they come home. Doesn't matter if they have been home for a day or for 50 years, it never leaves them. One war, they are all hailed heroes and welcomed home. The next war, they are all treated horribly and spit at as they came home. Now, another war rages on and many people want to act like it isn't even happening.

But through all this, our troops are proud. They are proud of their country, they are proud of the good they did and are doing. There are many good things that have come out of past wars and the ongoing one now. They do what they do because their country has asked them to do so. Many people do not agree with the war at all, but to me, it doesn't matter if you agree on the war and the reasons of it, what matters is that we have our fellow Americans fighting a fight and they need us. Sometimes, it is just a simple small thing like a letter asking how they are doing that boosts their morale enough to help them get through that day and to stay alive, or to give them that extra strength to recover.

It is because of their strength and courage that I have the determination to fight my own battle with my health. It is because of their strength and courage that I fight hard for them.

I send care packages, letters and emails, I visit the wounded. I hold blanket drives for the troops in Afghanistan because it gets really cold at night, I am doing a clothing drive for the wounded. If they get wounded in the field, they go to a hospital and their cammies get cut off them and then they are flown home in a hospital gown, not comfortable! I raise money for the wounded and for our veterans. I try to get the word out as much as I can. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes it isn't.

I don't do it alone though, there are times that people will help me and they donate things. I find it never hurts to ask. One time, I asked my mom's dentist for some toothpaste to send and I got a whole case! I went to a company and told them I was raising money for the wounded and they gave me a check for $1,000. I asked for cards for veterans and I got over 2,000 sent to me to give out. I asked for blankets one time and I got over 100. Sometimes, people will give money to buy what I need or to help with shipping.

I have been able to meet so many of our country's heroes and I am so lucky to be able to call them my friends. I am lucky that I have been able to help out so many of those that are fighting and to let those that have fought to know that many people do care. My mom says though that I am the luckiest because of the strength I have given to others, they give me strength back and because of that, I am stronger.

I am proud of our veterans and what they had to endure to make sure that we all get the freedoms we have today. I just try to do my part to make our country better because of them.

Thank you for letting me speak to you today. Never feel like you can't do something or you can't help out in someway, I am proof of that.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Visiting the veterans




There are just certain days, times that will always stick with you forever, they are imprinted in your soul. We just had such a day not so long ago.

Our Patriot Guard Riders had a date set up to go visit the Grand Rapids Veterans Home. They had several thousand dollars of stuff they were donating. Taylor decided she was going to spend some of her care package shipping money and went out and bought up many goodies for the vets as well.

It was also a perfect time to hand out some of the cards she had gotten from doing her card drive for the veterans. It was an emotional place to be, being the first time visiting there. We have been to nursing homes already, but this one was just for veterans. We went into a large room that had probably over 100 vets in there and it really takes your breath away.

Taylor went right in and immediately started working the room, going from vet to vet talking to them. It was so neat to watch. No matter how many times I see it for myself, I will NEVER grow tired of watching my daughter give pure love to these great veterans. The smile on her face, knowing that it is coming from within, and knowing she is so happy and she is in her element. It is just like watching a miracle happen.

Taylor had several hundred cards and each one got handed out. Because of the card drive, many of the cards were addressed to her, as many of these cards came from all over the United States. Many of the veterans handed back the cards, telling her they weren't for them. She explained to each one that yes, the card was for them and what she had done. Many of them cried.

There was one veteran in particular that was so touched. He handed the card back, she gave it back to him and told him it was for him. He pointed out the name and she told him that was her name and that she did the card drive for veterans just like him, she told him she did the card drive so that they would know that there are people from all over that are still grateful for them and she also wanted them to know that no matter what, they were not forgotten. He just looked at her for a minute and then he didn't just cry, he sobbed. He laid the card down in his lap and covered his face and just cried. She laid her hand on his shoulder and let him cry. He looked up at her, put his hand on her chest and said "Bless you" At that point in time, I had to turn around and walk out of the room because I myself got so emotional.

It was so neat to see, to see that a simple card of saying THANK YOU touched them all so deeply. To see Taylor once again, feel so at peace and so comfortable, to be able to give her love out and to know she was gaining so much from it.

If you would like to help Taylor continue this by sending cards for the veterans, she would appreciate it.
Many people sent cards addressed with the word VETERAN on it in care of Taylor Batten PO Box 350 Mendon MI 49072
On a side funny note, we have laughed about this ever since it happened......as we were standing out in the parking lot, a veteran wheeled up in his wheelchair. You could tell right away, he was a bit on the grumpy side. He asked us what we were doing there and we told him we had brought stuff. He just looked at us and simply said 'well I hope you brought something good' and off he rolled!!!!

Michigan State Police K9






Taylor has a very deep interest in police work, especially the K9 unit. Seems completely natural given all her military stuff. I have posted about her doing work with the St. Joseph County Sheriff and now, she gets to add being with the Michigan State Police!

There is a trooper that goes to her Marine Corps League meetings and we got to talking about how much she loves the K9, he told me to hang tight and he was going to see if he could do something. Awhile later I got the call that he had set things up, had to go all the way up the brass, but it was ok'd for her to spend a day with some handlers.

Her main guy, Trooper Marhall and his dog Remy were a dream come true for her! Trooper Marshall was like a long lost friend to her and he was more the wonderful. There were 4 troopers all together, Trooper Service and Dodger, Trooper Maki and Mannie, and Trooper Booms and Lex.

Now I have to tell you, almost instantly Taylor and I felt like complete total idiots once we saw the dogs. No one will ever understand just how intelligent these magnificent animals are or how incredibly loyal they are to not only their job, but their handlers unless you see it up close and first hand. No words even come to mind to do it justice.

The troopers took their time to explain every single detail to her and allowed her to help out on a few training exercises. We spent all day long with them and there was not a moment that passed that we weren't in complete and total awe. These guys love their job and they put all they can into it and it shows. In turn, their dogs give that and even more.

She got to help in tracking, drug search, explosives and doing a search for specific items. She got to ride in a MSP Tahoe and if you don't think that made her feel 6 ft tall, you don't know Taylor very well!

Through out the whole day though, I was sat back a few times and just smiled in my heart. Just like all the military guys, these guys took her in and treated her like one of their own. If they skimped on details or what they were doing, they sure didn't make it obvious. They made her feel like one of them, she was there with them and they made sure that she knew what was going on, how and why. They didn't treat her like a sick kid or that anything was wrong with her, they treated her with respect and made her feel like she was important. How do I say thank you for that? How do I make them realize just how special they are for what they did for my child? I think by their actions though, they already know it.

Taylor just had a big heart appointment and it was scary for her. I sent out a small plea for help in keeping her moral up and the email she got from Trooper Marshall, well, it made all the difference in the world to her. My hope is, this is a start of a new friendship for her and a new door for her has opened.

Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell's retirement









Once again, Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell's family opened up their arms and hearts to Taylor and had her come down as a special guest for Lt. Col. Maxwell's retirement and to witness Tim and Shannon renew their wedding vows as they start a new chapter in their lives as Tim retired out of the Marines.

Many of you know of Taylor's story in meeting Tim while at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and then him having her come down to Camp Lejeune for a week. If you don't know the story, scroll on down and read up.......wonderful story!

As usual, Taylor and I were made to feel like one of the family and being at the Maxwell house, many guests came in that Taylor got to reconnect with from her Camp Lejeune visit. She was on cloud nine!

She got to spend an afternoon at Officer Candidate School checking it out. Um, kinda funny to watch all these young officers walking around and seeing Taylor in her utilities. She got several nods and
'hey Gunny'. She definitely stood out, but that only made her stand straighter and walk prouder! It was HOT and humid, but our Sgt. was wonderful in taking the time with her and making sure she was comfortable and explaining everything to her.

We got to visit the museum a couple of times and that is where Tim's ceremony actually was as well. At first, I have to say, Taylor was sad that he was retiring out. I think in her heart, she had remembered one conversation he had with her and he told her he would stay in as long as he could and the day he didn't look good in his uniform would be the day he retired out. So, when she got word he was retiring, I know she was thinking WHAT HAPPENED?! But, as you can see in the picture, he still looks mighty fine in his uniform!

Tim will always push for the wounded and he will always give his all to make sure the right thing is being done for his warriors and Taylor knows this.

Taylor got to meet Gen. Amos, the assistant commandant to the Marine Corps. He listened to her story and he gave her such a big hug. He looked around first, then winked and said that it wasn't very often he openly gave hugs out, especially to Gunny's! He thanked her for taking care of his Marines and she told him 'No sir, they are MY Marines!' He gave her another hug!

Another wonderful experience she will cherish forever because of the special friendship she forged with another wounded warrior, one that she looks up to and one that she strives so hard to follow in his footsteps in making sure she does the right thing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Updates

Update, what the heck is an update?! Obviously something I am a stranger to!

There have been many things I have not posted on, Taylor going to see Lt. Col. Maxwell retire, meeting the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, being part of a color guard, getting to spend an outstanding training day with the Michigan state police K9, visiting a veteran's home and the list just goes on......

I will TRY to get updated with pictures SOON!

If by chance you are checking in, please keep Taylor in your prayers and send good juju vibes her way. This coming Friday, she has a big heart appointment at the University of Michigan. This is always a fearful time for her and for her dad and I. Taylor usually is tough as they come, but whenever she has to go up for this appointment, it throws her off a bit. So please, just keep her in your thoughts for her to be strong for this.

Thank you!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Starting out Memorial Day




This is an email I sent out on May 24, 2009:

I have a bit of a funny story from last night to tell and then one hell of an emotional story from today to share with you.

With it being Memorial Day weekend, our radar is up even more so in making sure to look out for veterans. Last night we went out to eat and Taylor noticed 2 men sitting at a table and one had on a veteran hat. She went over, held out her hand to shake his and thanked him for his service. He just sat there and looked at her. She, thinking he might be hard of hearing, said out louder THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. He got this profoundly strange look on his face and said back to her, 'I am sorry, I am not a waiter and I don't work here'.

The look on Taylor's face was about the funniest I have ever seen! It obviously didn't register with him what she was thanking him for, but when he said that back to her, it didn't register to her what he was saying. Finally, she pointed at his hat and asked him if he REALLY served! She was serious, but I about spit out my pop because it was so funny! It all of the sudden came to him what she was thanking him for and he just laughed and hung his head down and shook it back and forth. It was just comical to watch, why he thought she thought he was a waiter, we will never know!

A bit later, another veteran came in and sat down at a table across from the other vets. I got up and gave each table gift cards we had to help pay for their meals. As we were leaving, the older vet came up to our table and thanked us for his meal. He told us that had never happened to him before. He kept saying how appreciative he was that a stranger would do that for him. I told him it was us who was appreciative and it just stuck in my mind and heart, a small gesture turned out to be something more then a small gesture.

Today, we went to a fund raiser for the WWll Honor Flights that Taylor has helped get money for, the group that flew her out to DC with them last year. It was at a small airport and it was a 'fly in' all you can eat pancake breakfast. They had there the 369. She is a Viet Nam veteran medical Huey. She has been lovingly restored back to original condition.

One of the guys that has been instrumental in getting her off the ground just so happens to be someone I went to school with. He is Army and flies the big bad boys of attack helicopters. Anyways, he was the pilot today and both Taylor and Tanner got the chance to go up. Taylor has a Viet Nam friend who was a crew chief on the Huey and he hasn't been up in one since he got back home, in 1968, and he got to go up with them as well.

They went up, with the doors open while flying and came back around and did a low fast fly over. I have to say, standing on the ground seeing that fly at you, not just hearing the THUMP THUMP THUMP but FEELING it, well it was a pretty amazing thing to see and feel. However, it was what happened after they landed that was by far the most emotional thing that has happened in awhile.

Dick got off the Huey and the emotions got the best of him. He broke down and cried. It wasn't just your normal cry though. You veterans know the cry I am talking about. It came from his very core. Taylor wrapped her little arms around him and I think for a minute, she was actually supporting him up. The only thing he could get out between the sobs was a guttural OH GOD, over and over again.

We just let him cry, we hugged him, but we let him cry. After several minutes of non stop sobbing, he was able to compose himself a bit to turn around and look at the Huey, rotors still turning. You could feel the power of it and the whirl of it was almost deafening. He then said something that hit us all standing around him. He started to cry again, and then he said 'all those boys we took out of the jungle, all those boys that never made it to be a dad or a grandpa' He then lost it again.

By now, several of the crew were surrounding him and they were all hugging and most were crying. A pain only they can share and only they know. While we were witnessing intense pain, we also knew we were witnessing intense healing as well. It was then, that we were able to step in and hug each one and say to each one WELCOME HOME. Dick said it was something he couldn't ever describe in words, but what he did say was that while he was up in the air, time stopped and he was transported back. He could feel, smell and every other sense there is, it is exactly what it was like for him before. Then the intense pain of knowing NOW what he lived through, what he saw, what he did, it was just almost to much. The pain of all his brothers that never made it back, it all came to a head for him, so many things he held back and held down, he had no control over. It overflowed his protective gait he said.

We just listened, crying, but listened. Then, he smiled. He said he never got a welcome home. In fact, he got just the opposite and it was very ugly. Since then, he has been told several times welcome home, and it was nice to hear. But today, as he stepped off that Huey, transported back into time, we were there to welcome him home and he said that was the first time he FELT it.

So, last night and today started off our Memorial weekend. A time to laugh, a time to feel pain, a time to reflect and be thankful for those that made it and for those that didn't, a time to witness healing.

Memorial Day



Once again, Taylor was given the amazing honor of marching with over 18 of her hometown's veterans for Memorial Day. The majority of them being WWll heroes. Taylor stood shoulder to shoulder with these great men, marching in step with them, and saluted with them. Once we got to the cemetery, she was the chosen one this year to lay the wreath at the memorial. She did an outstanding job and we are so very proud of her!

These men just love her and are always so happy to have her walk with them. They are just as proud of her as she is of them. We know that in a few years, many of them won't be with us any longer and that is what makes these times she is with them so special. These men have given her life time memories of being with them and them accepting her as one of them. God Bless our veterans!

Living History


To those of you that know WWll veterans, a plea is sent to you from Taylor. DON'T WASTE TIME! Don't put off talking to them, don't put off visiting them, don't put off letting them know you care and that you are so thankful for them. Time is running out and it is running out fast.

We are so blessed to have so many WWll veterans in Taylor's life. They bring so much to her, and she brings so much to them. There is an understanding between them and most always, are in awe of each other!
Take a look at this picture, these are just a few of her friends. But these friends ARE America's history, it is because of them and how and where and when they fought, we have the country we do today.

Between these 3 men, they fought at Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Cape Gloucester, Chosin Reservoir and there are over SIX Purple Hearts between these 3 men. They are a blessing to this country and especially to my Gunny, Taylor Batten.

Marcus Luttrell


How do you meet someone that has a story that so incredible and so beyond comprehension? I still don't know how to do it, Taylor, she just walks right up, sticks her hand out and introduces herself. That is exactly what she did when she met Marcus Luttrell.

For those of you that have had your head in the sand and have never heard of Marcus Luttrell, we say, shame on you! Marcus has a book written about him and his Navy Seal team, called Lone Survivor. I highly recommend this for any and everyone to read.

The story is horrific, sad, amazing, uplifting in that it shows you that no matter...there is hope and survival, but it left me mad. Mad as hell. It made us mad in that our country has sent some amazing young men and women into war and then slaps such restrictions on them. It is those very restrictions that caused the death of Marcus's team, his best friends. They followed the 'rules' knowing full well they were signing their death warrants.

Marcus survived, how he did will always be a mystery. But he did. He now goes all over the country speaking of what happened. I don't know how he does it. Same goes with Taylor though, I don't know how she does the things she does either. I guess, it is only something that true warriors like Marcus, Lt. Col. Maxwell, Taylor and any other wounded, will understand what keeps them going and motivated.

In meeting Marcus, Taylor gave a firm hand shake and looked him in the eyes and he looked back at her. After hearing some of her story and her struggles, his face softened and he looked deep at her and told her that she could get through anything. He then asked her if she knew it. She shook her head yes, and he told her he could tell she knew what he was talking about, then pulled her in for a hug.

Once they were done talking, I witnessed his face harden again. My heart broke in watching this. I once again was able to see from the outside a bonding, a bonding that only she and Marcus know of. A bonding that only the wounded know of. It is something I will never know, something I will never feel. It is amazing when you see it happen, but so incredibly sad in WHY it is happening.

I will not tell more of Marcus's story in hopes that if you don't know it, you will go read it yourself. Then you will never forget it, I assure you that, you won't forget what he went through to be able to stand there and give my daughter a hug. You won't forget those of his team that were lost because of our 'rules' of engagement.

Sturgis and Three Rivers parades





Taylor put out a call for patriotism for 2 local parades, the Michigan Week parade in Sturgis and the Water Festival parade in Three Rivers.

Taylor wanted to have people walk with her, carrying an American flag. We also had banners made up, the message was simple but to the point SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS AND VETERANS.

Sturgis weather was rainy. It called for a slight chance of rain and that slight chance of rain turned out to be ALL rain! But we had people show up and many of them all said the same thing, our troops go through much more then this! Taylor's goal was for 100 walkers, while she didn't get 100, it was pretty close and those that did show up, made up for those that didn't!

Three Rivers weather, well that was a different story. It was HOT and HUMID and just down right miserable. The showing was a bit less then the Sturgis parade, but the reception we got in Three Rivers was almost more then you could take! Almost the whole route people stood and clapped and cheered. It was amazing, as you passed people, you could almost pick out all the veterans in the crowd. Standing tall, holding their hands over their hearts, some saluting as we walked by. Many of these were from the WWll era and it was emotional for many of us.

Taylor would like to make sure that those that took the time to show up and walk with her, it meant so much. Thank you for your support once again.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Parade update

We got updates on the parade for this Saturday, May 16.

We need to have everyone there as close to 11:30 as possible. The parade starts at 12.

To park, you have to go to the Sturgis High School. There is parking EAST of the High School (Franks Ave entrance) or the Eastwood School parking lot (east of the high school football field, Franks Ave entrance). There are going to be many roads closed so it will be best to use Chicago Rd (US 12) and turn SOUTH onto Franks Ave. Park your cars and then you have to walk to the line up which is on Ivanhoe. You should be able to see where everyone is going. Our parade entry number is 58. Thank you everyone. This is going to look really nice to have all our flags flying. I want people to know we care, I want veterans to know we care. The parade ends this year at the Sturges-Young Auditorium.

Taylor B

Monday, May 4, 2009

Thanking a veteran


Some of you may remember, Taylor held a card drive so that she could deliver cards to veterans in nursing homes. I am very late in posting this, but we were so happy with the turn out. Taylor got cards from all over the United States and some came from as far away as Iraq! Taylor was able to collect over 2,000 cards. If you are still interested, please send more and she will keep on delivering them!

Here is a picture of her delivering a bundle of cards to a veteran. He was so happy to have someone there to talk to. He was a farmer before and after his service time and he was so proud of his tractors and to be able to talk to someone about them. He just kept looking at her like he couldn't believe that someone had actually come to visit him!


She is wearing her Explorer outfit, for as soon as she was done visiting, she had to go to the St. Joseph County Jail for her first ride along! Boy, did it turn out to be exciting for her. They weren't even out on the road more then a few minutes and already had someone pulled over. Here is a picture with the officer she did her ride along with.


Taylor is working hard as ever on her up coming projects. We are now making plans for her 2nd annual big fundraiser for the veterans, which should be in August.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Article in paper

Here is an article that was written about Taylor's DAR award she received from the Daughters of the American Revolution, for the state of Michigan. Also, yesterday in the mail, Taylor got a letter congratuling her on winning the Eastern Central division of the United States from the DAR for her work with veterans and active duty. We aren't sure what all is happening with that, but once we find out more, you know I will update! Once again, VERY PROUD of Taylor and her selfless work she does for our military.

Taylor Batten honored at state DAR meeting
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Above and beyond - Pictured with Taylor Batten are, from left, DAR members Rebecca Shank, Jan Streeter and Katherine Langworthy. Photo provided
Published:
Wednesday, April 22, 2009 2:54 PM EDT
E. LANSING — St. Joseph County’s very own Honorary Marine Gunnery Sgt. Taylor Batten was named the State DAR Veteran Patient Youth Volunteer for 2009 at the State Awards luncheon in East Lansing.

Taylor, a ninth grade student at Mendon High School, has devoted the past four years supporting our troops overseas and the wounded veterans in hospitals. Averaging 400 or more hours a year, she sends cards, letters and packages, visits hospitals to cheer up the wounded and attends funerals of our fallen heroes.

Taylor has been adopted by the Wounded Warriors and supports the Children of Veterans Organization. She is also a member of the Patriot Guard Riders often attending funerals with them. In addition she works with other groups that have similar focus, the American Legion and the Blue Star Mothers.

On hand to honor Taylor were six members of the Abiel Fellows Chapter that nominated her. Also in attendance were her parents Kevin and Cathy Batten, Mendon High School Principal Jay Peterson, State Senator Cameron Brown and special guest Commandant Bob Cook of the Kalamazoo Marine Corps League. DAR members from across the state and their guests gave her a rousing standing ovation.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

NEED HELP!!!!!

Taylor needs your help! The Michigan Week Parade is coming up, May 16th to be exact. Taylor wants to get as many people as she can to walk with her in the parade, carrying American flags (provided) to show that patriotism is alive. Her message is simple, WE SUPPORT OUR VETERANS AND TROOPS.

Her goal is for 100 people to walk with her. How glorious would that be to see 100 people walking in the middle of a parade, carrying 3 x 5 flags attached to 6 ft poles?! HELP TAYLOR AND SHOW UP, HELP HER SPREAD THE WORD!

I hope the flyer she had made shows up big on the blog, I still haven't mastered on how to make large pictures show up.

Monday, April 6, 2009

2009 Outstanding Youth Volunteer for Veterans






What do you say when you get a phone call telling you that your daughter has been chosen to get an award for the whole state of Michigan for her work for the troops and veterans?

I got such a phone call about a month ago from the Daughters of the American Revolution. This is not the first time they have honored Taylor and her work she does for the troops. Last year, they awarded her with the Mary Desha Founders medal for her tireless work. This year, she was chosen for the whole state of Michigan.

We went to the awards ceremony on 3-31-2009. Taylor brought her dad and I, her principal Jay Peterson and the Marine Corps League Commandant of the Kalamazoo detachment. Also present was Sen. Cameron Brown. Taylor was not able to sit with us, as she had to sit at the head table. As the ceremony started, they called her to the stand and the state regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution started talking about Taylor and listed off everything she has done.

Now mind you, I have been with Taylor through all of this. We know what she has done and I myself have listed them all a few times, however, that is completely different then sitting back and listening to it being said out loud by someone else.

I sat in the audience and listened to each thing Taylor has done be listed off. I sat back and listened to the audience gasp at different times. I then heard out loud, about Taylor's illness and it literally took my breath away for a moment. It was like I was listening through someone elses ears and hearing all this for the first time. My heart ached with pride. Then, I watched as Taylor got this full faced beautiful smile. One that we don't normally see, especially when she is being talked about. I think she must have felt like I did.

I then watched the audience of about 300 give her a standing ovation that lasted for quiet some time. I watched as many wiped their faces of tears. It wasn't until after the ceremony was over that I realized that Taylor was the only individual that got her own standing ovation.

I thank the Daughters of the American Revolution for their continued support of Taylor and their continued recognition of her, especially the Abiel Fellows Chapter. I thank my daughter, GySgt. Taylor Batten, for her selflessness when it comes to her beloved troops. I thank her for looking beyond herself and doing what is right, because it IS right. I thank her for being my daughter and showing me the true meaning of so many things.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Emotional reunion



Here are a few pictures of the two cousins Taylor was able to bring together. The story is posted in the following entry. Sometimes, when you see a picture, there really aren't much words that can be used and I feel this is one of those times.

Military Appreciation Night



Here is a copy of an email I sent out:

Hello everyone,

I am sending a link to youtube for you to watch. This was taken last night, 2-18-09, at Taylor's school.

A little over a year ago, Taylor came home and was upset about walking down the hall and seeing trophy cases full of trophies for sports and academics but nothing for our military. We told her to do something about it.

She went before the school board and didn't ask, but demanded that it be changed. They all sat before her smiling, how could they say no not only to Taylor speaking from the heart but also for such a noble cause.

She had a plaque made up, a flag flown over our state capital and a flag flown over Washington. There was also a flag that was flown over Iraq by a Mendon high school student who went on to be in the Marines.

She called upon the military recruiters and they all stood with her at half court for the presentation during a basketball game. It was a pretty neat night and I know most of you have already heard about that night.

Well, everything was finally put together and it took a long time to get things done. She wanted to have a 'final' dedication for the display and things started rolling. It ended up being more then just a dedication to the military veterans of her school. It ended up being a very emotional reunion of two cousins that are very closer then brothers.

There is a young man from Taylor's school that became a Marine after he graduated. Taylor never knew him, he is much older. On one of his tours in Iraq, he was severely wounded. Once we found this out, Taylor then wanted to meet him. Taylor and Sgt. Dean Cugliotta have since become very good friends. She has involved him in many things and even got him to join the Marine Corps League with her.

Dean suffered a TBI and lives daily with post traumatic stress. As you can imagine, some days are much better then others and as of late, the bad days seem to outnumber the good days for him. This has weighed heavily on Taylor.

Dean's cousin is active duty and stationed in CA. We kept waiting to have the dedication because we kept thinking that Thomas was going to be coming home. The Marines had other ideas and he couldn't come home, then he was, then he wasn't and it went on like this for quiet sometime. We finally decided to have the dedication now and once Thomas was able to come home, we would do something special for him. After all, he did have a flag flown that is part of the display.

This as well weighed heavily on Taylor. She knew how things were tough for Dean now and she knew that a visit from his cousin was just what he needed. Now, how to do it? Taylor decided that Thomas WAS coming home. But, she didn't want Dean to know we were going to work on it in case things didn't work out. With Gunny Batten on the job, you just know it was going to get done and sure enough, it did!

It was decided that this was going to be a surprise to her very good friend Dean. We got travel arrangements all set and then went about a well laid out plan on getting him home from California and then coming into our small town with no one knowing.

Once again, Taylor called upon the recruiters to stand with her for this and they gladly were there for her. Many veterans showed up. Thomas showed up in his blues and Dean did as well. He did much fretting over wearing them and looking good. He almost wasn't going to wear them, but he got an order from the Gunny and he had to wear them.

We had Dean stand with his back to a hallway and we got everyone gathered up for the presentation, colors was called and Dean stood at attention. That is when Thomas walked up behind him. What happened next is something I can't really describe, as no words do justice to the raw heartfelt emotions that took place. Dean was told to turn around and when he did, Thomas's face was right there. It took Dean a moment to register and once he did, he just lost it.

He wasn't the only one, everyone broke out in tears. It was one of the most beautiful moments I have ever witnessed. Once they were done hugging, it was Taylor's turn to talk. Normally, she is a ball of fire when it comes to talking, but even she was thrown by what had just happened and she was a bit lost on what to say. I think, considering the hard work she put into this dedication and reunion, she was really tired but did an outstanding job.

The news was there and had it on and I have to say, the footage they caught was outstanding and they really did capture the true emotions of it. But anyways, here is the video that was sent to me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ettVdPh8qPw
I have a few pictures to post on this entry and then I will post two pictures by themselves. You will see why they need to be by themselves.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Coins


I realized there was a little story that I hadn't posted about. When Taylor was going to Bethesda for her medical testing, we knew it was going to be really close to the Marine Corps birthday. We had contacted Sgt. Grits and told them of Taylor and her going to visit the wounded. They immediately sent her some beautiful birthday coins to give out to the wounded. Unfortunately, the coins came in after we left and she wasn't able to hand deliver them to those she visited. When we got back home, the coins were here and she was able to send them back to the National Naval Medical Center to be given out to those that she visited.

We had an idea though. I am sure you have read about Taylor being able to fly back to DC a few weeks after her medical testing with the WWll veterans for the day. She thought who better to get some of those birthday coins then some WWll veterans! As it happened to be, the minute she walked into the airport terminal, she saw a man sitting there with a Marine hat and she immediately walked over and shook his hand and said 'Happy Birthday Marine' You should have seen the look on this old man's face! He stared at her deeply and intently for what seemed forever, then his face softened and he reached out his hand and said thank you. She had one of those coins in her hand and as they shook, she slipped it from her hand to his.

He opened his hand and looked at what was held in his palm. He looked at her and gave her a wonderful smile. Once she told him she was a Gunny, boy did he ever straiten up his stand! Once in DC, they were buddies while walking around and Taylor was able to hand out more birthday coins that day to many other WWll veterans.

Because I wasn't there in DC with her, I wasn't able to get pictures of her handing these out, but I did get one of her giving out her first one and through that simple hand shake, saying Happy Birthday and handing over a coin, Taylor gained yet another new friend.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Taylor Batten!





Jan. 23 was Taylor's birthday. First off, I want to thank everyone for their overwhelming wishes for her! She got phone calls from all over the United States not to mention all the emails and cards she got. All the way from Iraq, California to New York.

She got a special surprise in the form of a beautiful floral arrangement. The 2 wonderful ladies that sent it to her said that while she may be a hardened Gunny, she is still a young lady! Thank you!

Taylor got a rifle/shotgun combo. She has wanted to have her own rifle for awhile now. She has taken the hunter safety course with her younger brother as well as what she was taught at Camp Lejeune about safety. She also got some other training in her Explorer program with the sheriff department. Do I need to say how excited she was? The girl would have slept with it had I allowed it!

It is always during her birthday celebration that I am able to sit back and just marvel at Taylor. That is when I am able to reflect on just what a wondrous gift she is to us. She beat the odds by even being born. Remember, with her medical condition, less then ONE PERCENT even survive birth. I think back to all her hard struggles she faces each and every day with each and every breath she takes. Yet, she never gives up, she keeps moving forward and fights. She not only fights for herself, but she fights for others as well.

She got an email that really brought me to tears and made me realize once again, she is not only a gift to our family, but to others as well. The fight she fights, encourages others and I wanted to share part of that email with you:

I waited until today to send this because I wanted you to understand a few things about me, Gunny. I have the utmost respect for you! You are the fighter that inspires me when my cancer gets me down. I think of such a beautiful young lady fighting the good fight and I feel so much better. When the Good Lord gave us you, Gunny, He gave us a precious gem to be admired from avery angle. You are inspirations to alot of old Fellows that have lived our lives and forget that you are going on your way, carrying out your everyday affairs and such. It is with great pleasure that I wish you a Very Happy Birthday, and I hope God grants you many, many more, as I know he will. Happy Birthday Gunny Taylor, from this old broken down Marine.

She also had her free throw contest and won once again. For this particular contest, this is the 4th year in a row she has won the 1st round. It has always amazed us how she does it. She is this tiny little thing, with great visual spatial difficulties. Yet, for about the last 5 years, she has been able to stand at the free throw line and make shot after shot. She can even stand BEHIND the 3 point line and swish it in! She beats the big boys and no one ever seems to want to challenge her because they know it is a losing cause.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Army vs Marines




Seems there is a bit of rivalry between branches of the military. Always has been and always will be. Some boost they are better then the other, while the other will say the same. I know you all know what I am talking about!!!!!

While Taylor is a Marine, hard core and hard charging, she has a wonderful supporter in SFC Noble, Army recruiter. Taylor LOVES being a Marine and it is something she is damn proud of. She is also very proud to be an American and very proud of the other branches that have and are now serving. Many of her very first pen pals were Army. And you all know of her love for Marty Horn at http://www.anysoldier.com/ and he has been VERY good to her as well.

A while back, Taylor needed some help and called on the recruiters of all branches and they all showed up to help. She stood so proud with them. Then, she needed more help and the Marines said they would be there and guess what? They didn't show up. (gulp) Who showed up though just as he promised? Yup, Army, SFC Noble! He has been there for her on anything she has asked and we love him for that.

The Army just had a presentation and asked us to be there. I knew they were going to give a plaque to Taylor. What Noble didn't know was that, Taylor thinks the world of him as well and before HE could present to her, SHE presented him with a certificate of appreciation! Hers thanked him for being there and helping and his was about Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. He feels she holds all of these traits and I have to agree.

She stood and talked about how the Marines and the Army have to razz one another, which she is more then glad to do, but they also have to respect one another and that she whole heartily respects and appreciates her friend, SFC Greg Noble.

Every time we talk to him, he just gushes at how amazing and outstanding Taylor is in all she does for the troops. He beams when he talks about her. Taylor does just the same when talking about him though and is always sure to point out that while she is a Marine, he has been there for her every single time she needed it and that means the world to her.

She did have to do a bit of a devilish giggle though, when it came time to take a picture of her and Noble together, she wanted it taken under a Marine Corps picture! He laughed and said he would do it only for her, but they compromised and stood at a neutral point!!!

We went out to eat last weekend with Grampy Guns (retired Master Gunnery Sgt whose nick name is Grumpy, except for when it comes to Taylor) and when we walked in, we saw a table full of Army guys. Taylor walked up to them and shook each of their hands and then was able to give out Patriot Guard Rider coins to each of them. We got a picture of her with them and she is sitting on one of the guys laps. Now let me ask you this, how many pictures have you seen of a Marine sitting on an Army guys lap?!?! ( I do find the look on the guys face whose lap she is sitting on very funny! Maybe he didn't like a Gunny sitting on his lap?! Really, he was very nice and offered up his lap to her!)

Presidents Own Marine Corp Band








Taylor has been to Washington twice now for her medical testing. Each time, she has been there just shy of being able to see the drill teams at 8th & I or the Sunset Parade. It upset her both times, as she really wanted to see these.

The Presidents Own Marine Corps Band was coming to a university close to us and it was set up so that Taylor could go there and meet the band! To her, this was exciting because she had missed out on her chances while in Washington and this was like they were coming to her! We were so incredibly lucky as Taylor got to bring her good friend, Sgt. Cugliotta with her and they were taken back stage before the concert to meet with Col. Colburn. They then were taken back behind the band and able to meet many members of the band. We got special seats up close and let me tell you, the band was amazing. Listening to them, just made you so proud of your country!

During intermission, they were taken back stage again and able to meet up with Col. Colburn again as well as other members of the band. Both Taylor and Dean were given special coins and it was a great night. One that Taylor won't be forgetting any time soon.

Once again, Taylor was shown just how much she is appreciated for all her hard work and as always, it just made her glow and made her stronger. I can't thank everyone that was involved enough for making sure this happened for her.

Now if we can only get her to meet the Commandant!!!!