USO, Nationals Celebrate Wounded Warriors, Families
(July 14, 2010)
|WASHINGTON, July 11, 2010 – Like many combat-injured servicemembers, Army
Pfc. Matthew Castillo del Muro has found comfort in family and support.|
Organizations such as the USO, Microsoft Corp. and the Washington Nationals
have helped the airborne infantryman's recovery in ways he never expected,
“The USO is great,” Castillo del Muro said today at Nationals
Park here. “All of the groups really go out of their way to make [wounded
warriors] feel appreciated.”
Wounded warriors and military
family members raise their hats during a special
salute to troops at the Washington Nationals-San
Francisco Giants game in Washington, D.C., July
Castillo del Muro was one of 200 wounded
warriors, active duty military and military
family members honored at the Nationals game
today against the San Francisco Giants. The
celebration was part of USO of Metropolitan
Washington and Microsoft's 4th Annual Salute to
Castillo del Muro is recovering at Walter Reed
Army Medical Center here. He lost his lower
right leg to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on
June 6. Although he endured almost a year of
patrolling Afghanistan's rigid terrain with the
82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat
Team, the 22-year-old is learning that
recovering from his injuries may
be his biggest challenge.
“It's tough, but events like this and support from my family really makes a
positive difference,” he said.|
The troops and their families started the day with a VIP welcome from the
Nationals. The Nationals rolled out the red carpet, literally, as their
guests enjoyed food and drinks at the ballpark's rooftop party deck before
Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, lauded the
organizations for their support. He acknowledged each of the groups for
their steadfast and continued commitment to troops and their families.
“This is an event that happens only once a year,” Chiarelli said. “Their
support of our soldiers, all of our soldiers -- our wounded warriors, our
soldiers who are deployed -- it's absolutely fantastic.”
Nationals' games, in particular, have become known for paying tribute to the
military community, he noted. Such recognition goes a long way for military
families and children who are dealing with deployed loved ones, he added.
“It means so much to the kids, that they know their parents are doing
something special, and their country supports them,” he said.
“We've become Nationals fans, even though those of us in the military have
teams back home that we support,” the general continued. “You can't turn on
a Nationals game or come out to the ballpark without seeing someone from the
military being recognized."
Today, several wounded warriors were out on the field to meet players. One
lucky troop even got to hand off the team line up card to the head umpire.
The troops also were recognized in the third inning with a special salute on
the big-screen monitor in centerfield. Troops waved their hats, smiling
proudly, as the stadium roared with cheering fans.
“This is pretty amazing,” Army Sgt. Matt Lavoir said. “Events like this go a
long way in the healing process.”
Lavoir, 23, also is recovering at Walter Reed. He was injured by a roadside
bomb in September 2008 in Iraq, and has only partial use of his right arm,
he said. He's participated in more than 20 USO-sponsored events while in
rehabilitation here, he said proudly.
“I can't say enough good things about USO and what they do for us,” the
infantryman said. “USO and events like this are a huge help to all of us in
uniform. Their events are a big pick-me-up, getting us out of our rooms and
trying to live life again.”
Curt Kolcun, Microsoft's vice president of U.S. Public Sector, and Elaine
Rogers, USO-Metro president, said it's an honor for their organizations to
reach out in support of the military.
“We're honored by the sacrifice the troops and families make every day for
us,” Kolcun said. “This is just a way for us to recognize and give back to
those who've given so much.”
“This is all of us, our way of really saying to our active duty military and
their families, we really appreciate what you're doing for our country,”
Rogers added. “It doesn't get much better than a special day like today.”
Although the Nationals fell behind early, and were down 5-0 in the top of
the seventh, they sparked a late-game comeback. The Nats scored two runs,
but left the bases loaded going into the eighth. The Giants closed the game
However, it wasn't a total loss, Lavoir attested.
“It's a great day for baseball, and it was a great tribute to our military,”
photo by Army SFC Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
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