Message from Dave

August 11th, 2018
Fall Packing 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...

Troop News

News articles on our Troops!! If you have a news article, please email it to us and we can get it posted on the site!

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.

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.


Local Soldier Comes Home for a Visit.

Troop News


Family couldn't be prouder of soldier

Updated: Friday, 07 Oct 2011, 8:43 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 07 Oct 2011, 8:43 PM EDT

Stef DiPietrantonio
Stef DiPietrantonio
FOX 13 News

LARGO - When Angela Longgood saw her son walking down the gangway dressed in full
camos, she nearly collapsed.

The proud mother from Largo rushed to her son Anthony, who was among the dozens of
soldiers returning home for two weeks. Friday was the 10-year mark of the War in
Afghanistan, a time to remember the many soldiers in the line of duty.

"Oh, I'm so happy," Longgood said tearfully as she and Anthony's father Jeff hugged and
kissed him.

Anthony Cook, 24, has been gone for more than a year in the mountains of Afghanistan,
and his return was an emotional one for loved ones, including fiancée Veronica Vilar.

"I missed you," she told Anthony.

"I was pacing, I was pacing," said his baby brother Jarred. "I was so excited to see him. It's
just me and my brother, so it's my best friend, my brother, my inspiration, my role model."

His father Jeff was beaming from ear to ear.

"It terrifies me, but he's tough," Jeff said proudly. "He's doing what he loves to do, and he's
serving his country, and I'm very proud of him. I just -- words can't say it."

Cook comes from a long line of soldiers in his family. He is an Army Specialist serving in
the Infantry.

He held hands with Miss Vilar all the way down the escalator. She said it’s been tough while
he’s been gone. They try to talk via Skype whenever they can.

"Honestly, we get to talk about 30 minutes,” she said. “They're timed … We Skype every
once and a while unless the generator crashes or they're getting bombed.”

Those times are the toughest.

Cook was in a mountaintop outpost – one of the first lines of defenses for soldiers in
Afghanistan right now.

"This is where it's happening,” Cook said of the outposts. “This is where they'll bring in
weapons. This is where they'll bring in drugs, bring in money, all through here down the
border, so we're here to just make that harder for them.”

They get hit with a lot of indirect fire, mortar and rockets.

"It makes you like a deer during hunting season," he said. "Every little noise you hear,
you're always … listening. It makes you very aware. Oh, we're like mountain goats up
there. We've gotten pretty good at climbing around the mountains.”

Cook said thinking of his family has helped get him through war. There to meet him
at the airport was a stretch Hummer – the perfect way to start vacation.

His mother said she would have gotten a helicopter if she could have.

Cook will get to stay home for two weeks to enjoy some of mom’s cooking, and mom
says he needs it.

He’s lost 20 pounds fighting overseas.

Cook simply said he’s been on a diet.

“On a diet called Afghanistan,” he said.



10 years in Afghanistan: With US troops on a mountaintop outpost

Troop News

By Matt Ford, Associated Press

It was the first thing I saw when I landed at Forward Operating Base Tillman in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktika province: a craggy mountain with several huts perched right at the peak, a place called Outpost One. I wanted to meet the men who lived on the mountain.

U.S. Army soldier Pfc. Kyle McClintock, 23, as he stands guard at Outpost One on a mountain top overlooking Forward Operating Base Tillman near the Pakistan border. Growing up, McClintock hated that his mom and dad were in the Army. As Army reservists, they would be gone for long periods. His father fought in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, and his mother served in Afghanistan along the Uzbekistan border.

In the remote mountainous regions along the Pakistan border, these outposts are the first line of defense against the Taliban, members of the Haqqani network and other insurgents that move into Afghanistan from Pakistan’s tribal areas.

The outpost used to be located much lower on the mountain, but it was overrun in 2007. In Afghanistan, the oldest tenet of warfare still applies: The advantage goes to he who holds the high ground. So they moved the outpost as high as they could – to the summit.


There is no running water, so they wash themselves with bottles of water and spit toothpaste over a cliff. The soldiers take turns standing guard on the roof of one of the makeshift structures built out of plywood and sandbags surrounded by multiple gun positions and surveillance equipment.

The rest of the soldiers entertain themselves any way they can. They watch movies on their computers, play cards and lift weights with a bench press and two dumbbells. They don’t know what unit before them brought the weights up the side of the mountain, but they're glad they did.

I was taken by how young most of the men are. Now in their early 20s, they were just children in grade school when the war began and they have little recollection of the initial invasion.

Now they sit on top of a mountain in Afghanistan, at war.


Our Next Event

Come Join Us in August!
We are holding our
2018 Holiday Packing Event!

November 10th, 2018

Sea Dog Brew Pub Treasure Island

9610 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island, Florida 33706

(727) 954-7805

Come help us send a little love this Holiday Season!

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