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Editorial: An Operation Hero Miles Update
By Marilyn Clark, League City Area News OnlineAugust 11, 2004
According to a July 20th article in the Houston Chronicle by Rhea Davis, an area marine from Deer Park, Eulice Preston McDaniel III, was killed and others injured on July 17, 2004 when the Humvee in which he was riding overturned during a training exercise in California at March Air Force Reserve Base.
I thought of the December 7, 2003 loss of Army Spc. Ray Joseph Hutchinson when the Humvee in which he was riding was blown up in Iraq by a remotely detonated bomb. Two other soldiers were critically injured (Staff reports).
Hutchinson grew up in League City and graduated from Clear Creek High School.
A December 10th article at Leaf Chronicle.com reported that arrangements had been made for Hutchinson to come home for his grandmother’s heart surgery.
About that time, I wrote a December 18th editorial encouraging people to donate frequent flier miles to Operation Hero Mile so that soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan for emergency and rest and relaxation (R & R) leave could complete the last leg of their journey for free.
Heather Melino, the press secretary of U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), said that Operation Hero Miles was expanded to cover trips by family members to visit wounded soldiers in hospitals both in the United States and overseas shortly after my December 18th editorial.
Furthermore, the Pentagon began paying for the entire trip home for R & R leave but not emergency leave on January 1, 2004.
So far, travelers and airlines (See Ruppersberger’s website - www.heromiles.org) have donated more than 540 million miles to Operation Hero Miles and the Fisher House Foundation. The Fisher House Foundation provides free housing to the families visiting wounded soldiers both in the U.S. and overseas.
These donations have provided 22,000 tickets to servicemen and the families of wounded servicemen.
The www.heromiles.org website also provided information about the "Operation Hero Miles" bill now in Congress. This bill authorized the Department of Defense to assign an office to manage Operation Hero Miles and accept unused frequent flyer miles, mileage credits, or free tickets. The bill expands Operation Hero Miles to all servicemen on emergency leave and the families of all wounded soldiers that have been hospitalized.
Melino said that the Operation Hero Miles bill has now passed both the House and the Senate as a part of the on the Defense Authorization Bill. A Conference Committee will work out the differences between the Senate and House versions of this bill when Congress returns in the fall.
Northwest, Pan-Am, and Southwest Airlines are currently accepting frequent flier miles. Melino said that the other airlines which have participated in the past are planning to reopen donations when the legislation is passed.
Please support our troops overseas by continuing to donate unused frequent flyer miles, mileage credits, or free tickets.
For more information, visit the website, www.heromiles.org
If still more information is needed, contact Heather Moeder Molino, the press secretary of Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger at 202-225-3061
The opinions expressed in this or any other column are those of the author, not the League City Area News Online or its staff or any of its affiliates. Any and all responses to any of the columnists are welcome.
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|The opinions expressed in this or any other column are those of the author, not the League City Area News Online or its staff or any of its affiliates. Any and all responses to any of the columnists are welcome.|
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