Operation Never Forget

VJ Exclusive

The sacrifice, honor, and recognition of our American soldiers



The mission: To preserve their legacy and pay tribute to their families


Operation Never Forget was created to memorialize the over 3,300 soldiers of the United States Armed Services who have put lives on hold and their life on the line for America.  They fought a good fight, and unfortunately their lives were cut  short while fighting the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, with individual “life like, life size” bronze bust statues of these brave men and women, assuring that they and their families will BY NO MEANS be forgotten for their sacrifice.


The Goal:


Operation Never Forget main goal is to help many families across America who has lost their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and husbands and wives in the war on terror.  Operation Never Forget will provide a source of healing to the families by giving back to them and their communities a small piece of what was lost. 


How we honored our brave soldiers who have sacrifice their lives ensuring the freedom of the American people. 


The Tribute:


Friday June 27, thru Sunday June 29, 2008, families of eight US Army 160th SOAR Airborne, based from Ft. Campbell Kentucky; and families of 12 US Navy SEALs were brought to San Diego for two ceremonies.


The ceremonies:


  • One was aboard the USS MIDWAY, and later that evening at PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres.
  • FAM brought more than one-hundred family members from around the country to receive honors prior to the MLB game between the San Diego Padres vs. Seattle Mariners.
  • On Friday June 27, the California Highway Patrol in a twenty-vehicle motorcade escorted twenty families from the downtown Gaslamp Marriot Hotel to Naval Special Warfare Command at 2000 Trident Way to meet with RDML Garry J Bonelli.  The families toured NSW facilities including the headquarters, BUD/S training and Special Boat Team Twelve. Highlights included the viewing of the memorial plaque and the high-speed MkV boat rides.
  • Afterwards, the families were escorted to the Seals bar McP’s restaurant for a social and BBQ dinner that included an overflow crowd of an estimated four-hundred patrons.


“Lone Survivor”, Marcus Luttrell, Navy Cross recipient, best selling author and the only survivor of the heroic firefight was present along with his parents and younger brother Scott.  The parents and widows of the other men included:


  • Medal of Honor recipient LT. Michael P. Murphy, US Navy SEAL (awarded posthumously)
  • Navy Cross recipient Matthew Axelson, US Navy SEAL (awarded posthumously)
  • Navy Cross recipient Danny Dietz, US Navy SEAL (awarded posthumously)
  • Sixteen Medals for Valor to the remaining 16 soldiers and sailors who were aboard the MH-47 helicopter (all posthumously).


Operation REDWING was the largest loss of Special Operations personnel in a single incident in the history of the United States dating back to World War II.  This project gave these families the opportunity to unit together as one.


On June 28, there was a ceremony aboard the USS MIDWAY where the families of these nineteen fallen heroes, and the one survivor, US Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, were honored and recognized for their sacrifices. The event was capped by a moving speech about sacrifice, courage and tribute delivered by Academy Award winning actor, Jon Voight.

The event was followed by a pre-game tribute paid to the fallen heroes and the families in front of 35,000 fans. The San Diego Padres and US Navy contributed to dignify the events. 


Other notables:

  • Tom O’Gara provided five Bentley’s for families transportation.
  • CHP provided honors motorcade motors escort.
  • Rawlings/Louiville Slugger provided etched bats/balls.
  • Major League Baseball star Dave Stewart and FAM director Lonnie Murray presented a Mike Faketty custom paddle to the USS Midway.
  • Marcus Luttrell threw out first pitch to MLB legend Dave Stewart.
  • 4 Navy F-18 fighter jets performed a fly-by
  • The Navy ‘Leap Frogs’ performed the demonstration jump.
  • Leland Grant performed the National Anthem live!


Operation Never Forget will continue to honor more of their heroes as time progresses.  But before I go let us keep in mind; there is nothing nobler than to protect the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, especially in the non-selfish way of protecting America and other who are foreign to our own country. That is what our heroes are doing – insuring that the same freedoms we enjoy here in the United States are available to all who want them. That is what America is all about – freedom, life, and the pursuit of happiness.   This is why we need to honor the soldiers that sacrificed their lives so others can have a life that’s worth living.



Stacey Chillemi, is a highly versatile author, freelance writer and speaker with more a decade of experience. She is an award winning writer, motivational, inspirational, and self-help speaker. She was the managing editor for the magazine UZURI and worked for a major television network. She has been featured in Woman’s World Magazine, the New Jersey Star Ledger, and the Asbury Park Press. Her website is http://www.authorsden.com/staceydchillemi and http://stores.lulu.com/staceychil


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