Warrior Aviation is under application review for 501(c)(3) non-profit status and is comprised of a team of individuals and assets assembled together to bring rewarding opportunities to those who have served their country and sacrificed tremendously in the process, yet still strive to give even more of themselves. Sgt. Neal Duncan put it best when he said, "I can provide the will and strength but there has to be opportunity." Warrior Aviation aims to be the provider of that opportunity, allowing Sgt. Duncan and his fellow veterans to return to a productive work life and solid economic citizenship. As an experienced team of aviation enthusiasts and business leaders, we have assembled a five-part program designed to create and deliver opportunity:
These programs coexist in a cyclical structure enabling our veteran participants to embark on a fulfilling path towards a new and rewarding career. Social awareness needs to be created about the existence of these programs and that opportunity exists for those who want to regain a career.
The Warrior Empowerment Team provides the Training, Mentoring and Job Placement Assistance to our enrolled members. Training is divided among various career paths, with mentoring and job placement designed to carry the apprentices into their new careers. Training includes Private and Commercial Pilot License, Certified Ground and Flight Instructor, Airframe and Power Plant Mechanic, Avionics Technician, and Air Traffic Controller. Mentoring includes a career track sponsor and corresponding liaison that will work with the wounded warriors throughout the empowerment process. Job Placement includes pre-defined positions in major corporations in the aviation industry as well as potential public sector placements.
Warrior Flight Team:
The Warrior Flight Team provides both the Enrollment and the Recruitment portions of our program. These components are designed to expose new candidates to their options and potential career paths, and ultimately enroll them into our empowerment programs. We reach out to veterans groups who have interested wounded veteran participants and solicit their participation in our public awareness campaigns and honor ceremonies.
We conduct these campaigns at large well-attended events like air shows and sports contests where millions of people can publically recognize and honor the veterans for their sacrifices. The wounded warriors can enhance their own healing process through the social networking aspects of these large public events and through renewed camaraderie with fellow veterans who have had similar experiences.
We work with many veterans organizations to solicit participation from their registered members so they may be included in the opportunities we provide.
P.O. Box 3728
Frederick, MD 21705-3728
Wayne and Angie Eggleston were both active duty Air Force. Theirs was a typical dual-career life of juggling home, parenthood, and work until a day in June, 1997, when their 16 year old son, Chris, did not come home from school. For five days hundreds joined police in searching for the boy until two Special Operations soldiers found his body, tied with rope, buried in a shallow grave behind his high school.
During these excruciating days, the entire Fort Bragg and Fayetteville, North Carolina community wrapped its arms around Angie and Wayne, holding and supporting the devastated couple with acts of kindness that continue even to this day. Somehow they survived the initial shock, the investigations and the trials. "Without our faith and the overwhelming support of family, friends and strangers, we would not have survived."
Two years after Chris's death, Angie and Wayne retired from the Air Force and moved to Myrtle Beach where they later opened their own business, Wayne's View Photography.
Little by little, time helped lift the fog of despair lodged deeply in their souls. Finally rounding a bend in their lifelong journey through grief, Angie often remembered the amazing gestures of kindness and support they had received throughout the ordeal, especially from those in the Fort Bragg Special Operations area. Over weeks and months, she and Wayne began to talk about finding ways to step outside their grief, show their appreciation to the military community, and keep the memory of their son alive. Gradually, a grand idea took shape, one which would focus on a happy event and provide the opportunity to pay it forward to those currently in uniform.
Soon their idea became reality: a nonprofit project named "Operation Happily Ever After" which will provide a Myrtle Beach dream wedding for a lucky military couple. Drawing on their experience as wedding photographers and their contacts with other wedding professionals, Angie began contacting local vendors, asking them to donate their time and skills for this good cause. The Egglestons were amazed at the generous and enthusiastic response they received. With the exception of the rings and dress, everything will be provided, including the wedding ceremony, a reception with all the trimmings, luxury beachfront resort accommodations for the wedding party, and a three-night honeymoon stay. At the same time, Operation Happily Ever After will raise awareness and funds to help support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a non-profit organization which assists military members and their families.
For the Egglestons, life will always have a bittersweet edge. Nothing can ever change that. However, by holding on to one another and moving beyond personal pain, Angie and Wayne have created a living tribute to their son which will provide a dream come true for one special couple and lend assistance to countless members of the military community which was there for them in their darkest hour. The Operation Happily Ever After logo aptly symbolizes each of these: a military dog tag on a metal chain intertwined with a pair of wedding rings, one bearing the discreet engraved initials of their beloved son Chris.
To learn more about the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, go to www.fallenheroesfund.org