Message from Dave

August 11th, 2018
Fall Packing Event

210 BOXES PACKED AT THE EVENT!!
More arrived over the last week, and more boxes are being packed. So far, 211 BOXES HAVE BEEN SHIPPED OUT!!

Our Fall Packing Event was hosted this year by the American Legion Post 273 in beautiful Maderia Beach, FL. Our event had a HUGE turnout, and included many new members and quite a lot of fantastic donations for our troops! We had a great time and had so many incredible folks out there helping us do what we do.

For a couple of months prior to the event, we began gathering goods for the boxes. Bay Care in the bay area held a packing drive that was so successful, we actually shared the good fortune with another troop packing organization! We had more than two pickup truck loads of goods from Bay Care to begin our packing. When we arrived at the legion to begin setup, we were greeted by a pleasant surprise from the new SLYCE Pizzeria there on Madeira Beach. They had sent over a pallot of snack goodies for our boxes! THANK YOU SLYCE!!

 

Read On...

News

Welcome Home 1LT Ryan Berg!

Group News

On June 2nd, we got the honor of welcoming home another one of "our guys". 1LT Ryan Berg, commander of the Florida Army National Guard's 856th Quartermaster Support Company and the rest of his unit arrived back after nearly a year in Afghanistan. We were there with family and friends to welcome them home and thank them for their service.  Another surprise was in store as Ryan presented our founder Dave Dabney with a flag for the group on behalf of his company in Afghanistan.  Thank you for your service, Ryan!  We're happy we could send you and your crew a piece of home!

 

Full Throttle Magazine

Group News

Full Throttle Magazine invited Tampa Bay Troop Support to their 17th Anniversary party at Quaker Steak & Lube.

They also gave us a great booth location on the main area (free!), and the proceeds from the 50/50 raffle too!  As a result we raised well over $300 for the day!! This will ship another 22 boxes over to our troops overseas.
THANK YOU!

A big thanks to our own Lt. "Redneck" Ryan Berg and Full Throttle Magazine's Al "Dew" Swetay for making this happen! We look forward to working with Full Throttle again in future shows. These folks at Full Throttle Magazine are truly great people and tremendous supporters of both our troops, and the biker community.

So I want everyone to go visit the Florida Full Throttle web page, and they are on Facebook too. Let them know how much we appreciate what they did for us! Let them know you heard about their support to our great effort!

 

Twin Marine Snipers Return Home

Troop News

After harrowing duty in Afghanistan, twin brother Marines finally home to Tampa Bay

By Dan Sullivan, Times Staff Writer - Tampa Bay Times


Max, right, and Jake Gauthier were wounded in Afghanistan. Max lost a leg and Jake’s face was hit by shrapnel. Jake has talked about becoming a fireman after he is discharged. Max is interested in law enforcement, but his heart is still with the military.

 


TAMPA — The crowd assembled slowly around the walkway where the Marines would arrive at any moment. These were not just any Marines.

Jake Gauthier carries a long horizontal scar on his left cheek from a piece of shrapnel, hurled during a firefight this summer.

Max Gauthier walks with a limp, clutching a cane. Metal rods prevented him from losing his left leg. A wooden prosthesis stands where his right leg once did, bearing the name and insignia of their unit: 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

Max and Jake Gauthier are twin brothers. They were both snipers, serving in Helmand Province, one of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan.

When Max lost his leg in July from the blast from an improvised explosive device, the military plucked Jake out of the battlefield. They most recently were in California, where Max underwent therapy at a military hospital.

On Sunday at Tampa International Airport, they came home.

• • •

Max is older than brother Jake by one minute. The two joke that the younger one followed the older one, but throughout their lives the brothers have been neck-and-neck.

As students at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, they studied, competed on the swim team and courted their future wives. Max has talked since childhood of a career in the military, but after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, both proclaimed a desire to serve their country.

After their 2007 graduation, both married their high school sweethearts and enlisted in the Marines. Jake was assigned to a Washington, D.C.,-based platoon while Max worked a nuclear security post in Georgia. They missed each other, but time drew them back together.

By 2011, the twins were both lance corporals and had trained together in sniper school at Camp Pendleton in California. They got assigned to the same unit, H and S Company. Their next stop: Afghanistan.

• • •

Jake had a bad feeling before he knew what had happened. He heard the explosion. Moments later, a Marine radio confirmed what he had already felt.

Max had just finished checking the ground for improvised explosive devices when he took his next step and found himself caught in a massive blast. A 25-pound IED threw him into the air. His right leg was blown off and the other leg was nearly lost.

Some of his fingers had been severed, but medical personnel later were able to sew them back on. A severe concussion left him with memory problems.

"There was a little while there when I thought I wasn't going to see Florida again," Max said.

• • •

David Gauthier paced the empty walkway as he waited, cellphone in hand, and turned around occasionally to shake hands and chat with the more than 200 people who turned out to welcome his sons home.

Some were family. Some were friends. Some were veterans who had served in Afghanistan or Iraq or Vietnam. Some had never met the Marines or their families.

Gauthier has the face of a man who has seen his share of dire struggles. A Navy man, he served in Vietnam. But when he talks about his twin sons, his eyes tear up and his voice quavers.

"This is truly overwhelming, a response like this. It says a lot for my sons," he said. "Other than their birth, it's the best thing that's ever happened."

His wife, Darlene, was never happy with her sons' decision to join the military. Her nights were sleepless and she couldn't eat after both boys deployed in March.

No one notified her when shrapnel scarred Jake's face in a June firefight. She read about it in a military newsletter.

A month later, she nearly collapsed when the phone rang and the caller ID read "Quantico, Va."

She flew to San Diego when Max arrived there, 10 days after he was nearly killed. Jake was soon to follow as his brother underwent five months of therapy.

• • •

The crowd waved American and Marine flags and held up banners. As an airport tram approached, voices hushed and arms raised signs and heads peered over shoulders to catch a glimpse of the reunion.

Wild cheers and applause and kisses from relatives greeted the surprised brothers.

Max's wife, Nicole, was there with their 3-year-old daughter, Sydney, as was Jake's wife, Becky, who is expecting their first child.

They made their way out of the airport to the curbside, where more than 50 motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard Riders revved their engines before leading the way for the black limousine that took the Marines to Seminole, where their parents live.

Jake has talked about becoming a fireman after he is discharged in January. Max has until June to decide. He's interested in law enforcement, but his heart remains with the military.

"I've been pushing to go back," Max said. "I'd like to try to stay in the Marines."

For now though, it's just good to be home.

The Gauthier twins and their father, David, are heartened to see members of the Patriot Guard Riders at the airport. They led the way for the black limousine that took the Marines to Seminole.
[TYLER TJOMSLAND | Times]

Dan Sullivan can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (813) 226-3321.

 

Spring Packing Event Featured on Bay News 9

Group News

Special thanks to Bay News 9 for covering our 2013 Spring Packing Event for the troops!

 

 
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