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Warrior Canine Connection Newsletter - March/April 2014

The Valor Litter Issue
Miss Pink – “Goldie”
Goldie is named for All Gold Star Mothers, Everywhere.

The Gold Star Mothers Club was formed by Grace Darling Seibold of Washington, D.C., whose son, George, was killed in action during the First World War. She channeled her grief into positive action by joining with the mothers of other fallen Warriors to visit Service Members recovering in area hospitals. The Gold Star Mothers Club was officially created in 1928.
The name comes from the custom of families of active Military hanging a banner called a service flag in a window of their homes. A dark blue star on the flag indicated a living Service Member; a gold star indicated that the Service Member lost his or her life in service.
Today, the mission of the Gold Star Mothers Club is to provide emotional support to other members, to do volunteer work with Veterans and in Veterans Hospitals in particular, and to foster a sense of respect and patriotism for the United States Armed Forces. 
Mr. Black – "Paul"
Mr. Black is named for Marine Corporal Paul Allen.

Paul Allen was born and raised in Woodstock, Illinois and was a member of a patriotic family – proud of his father and uncle’s military service during the Second World War. In high school, Paul moved with his family to Rochester, Minnesota, where he attended John Marshall High School. In June 1965, Paul graduated from high school, and signed with the United States Marine Corps.
During the battle of Khe Sanh, Corporal Allen was promoted to the position of ‘Crew Chief’ of a Huey helicopter. On April 11th 1968, Corporal Allen’s Huey was escorting two medical evacuation helicopters carrying wounded out of the hills above Khe Sanh.

The lead evacuation Huey broke out of some low clouds right above Corporal Allen’s, and the two helicopters collided and spiraled to the ground. Corporal Allen, along with eleven other Marines, died instantly. His family honors his memory, and his service to our country.

Marine Corporal Paul Allen
Mr. Purple - "Mike"

Mr. Purple is named for Army Private First Class Michael Metcalf.

PFC Michael Metcalf knew he wanted to be in the military from a very young age. He spent his last years of high school at a prestigious military academy in Wisconsin and joined the Army right after graduation. On March 22, 2012 Metcalf started his first tour in Afghanistan.
PFC Michael Metcalf was Killed in Action on April 22, 2012 when the MRAP vehicle he was driving struck an improvised explosive device (IED) near Ghazni, Afghanistan. Mike was Quick Response Team member and was coming to the aid of his injured comrades when he was killed.
He was a paratrooper assigned to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, and was conducting combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his actions.

PFC Michael Metcalf
In Other News...

Fundraising -- We are thrilled to announce that we have been invited to participate in the second annual Veteran's Charity Challenge, sponsored by CraigConnects and featured on the Crowdrise website. the challenge will run from May 22 - July 3, 2014. More details to come in the near future!!

Research -- WCC Director of Research Meg Daley-Olmert was recently invited to give a Tedx Chester River talk called, "Stay, Sit, Heel: New Rules for the Human-Animal Bond," examining how humans have benefitted psychologically and physiologically from living with animals.You can watch it on YouTube here

West Coast Programs -- The West Coast pack celebrated their one-year anniversary in the new Welcome Center of the Palo Alto VA Health Care System's Menlo Park Campus. The celebration -- along with plenty of photos -- will be included in our next newsletter.
Warrior Canine Connection is a pioneering organization that utilizes clinically based Canine Connection Therapy to help wounded Warriors reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other.

Warrior Canine Connection is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization. Visit us on the web at

All photographs of the Valor Litter courtesy of Bonnie Grower Photography --

Meet the Valor Litter!
In late April, we announced the names of our Valor Litter, along with the stories of the remarkable men and women for whom they're named. Here are their stories.
Miss Green - "Lily"

Lily is named for Navy Nurse Corps Lilian M. Murphy.

Lilian M. Murphy, served in the Naval Base Hospital in Hampton Roads, VA. During the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918, Navy medical professionals were among those overwhelmed trying to fight the virus, for which there was no cure. In 1918, more than 120,000 Navy and Marine patients with influenza were admitted at Navy medical facilities. It is estimated that 50 to 100 million people died worldwide; in the United States alone, the number of fatalities was more than 500,000.
Lilian Murphy distinguished herself through service and devotion to duty during the pandemic. She worked day and night among the patients until she was stricken with the disease, as a result of which she lost her life. She was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for her heroic actions, and was one of four nurses given this decoration of valor in 1918.

Lilian M. Murphy
Mr. Blue - "Donnie"

Mr. Blue is named after Marine Lcpl Donnie A. Geerdes.

United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Donnie A. Geerdes was born May 16, 1949 and grew up the middle of three children in Rochester, Minnesota. Donnie, who came from a military family, was determined to serve his country as a Marine and enlisted during his senior year at John Marshall High School.
In May 1968, LCpl Geerdes earned a Purple Heart after being wounded in the shoulder by sniper fire. As soon as he recovered, he rejoined his unit in Quang Tri and resumed the point position on patrol.

On June 13th 1968, almost exactly one year from his high school graduation, LCpl Donnie Geerdes voluntarily took the spot of another Marine – a friend – and headed out as the Lead Patrolman on patrol in Quang Tri Province Vietnam. That day, he was KIA – Killed in Action by a sniper. His name is inscribed on it: Panel 57W, Line 9 of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, DC.
Donnie’s sister, Doris Brown, said that Donnie would have been honored but overwhelmed by the Warrior Canine Connection nomination.

Marine Lcpl Donnie Geerdes
Mr. Red – "Murphy"

Mr. Red is named for Navy Captain Steve Murphy.

Captain Steve Murphy, USN, was a 1991 graduate with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy. His 22-year career in the navy was marked by numerous deployments, as well as domestic and international advisory, intellectual, and academic opportunities. Steve's personal awards included the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), and the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards).

Steve came from a family with a history of service; his father is a WWII veteran, and his uncle perished when the warship he served on was torpedoed. His oldest sister is a retired Air Force officer. He possessed a rare blend of humility, leadership, humor, work ethic, intelligence, curiosity, and an unwavering faith in God.
When his family was given the opportunity to volunteer for and work with the dogs of Warrior Canine Connection, he enthusiastically lent his support. WCC’s dogs provided loving comfort during his battle with cancer, which sadly ended in 2013. His family can’t think of a better way to honor his memory than to share his name with a service dog.

Captain Steve Murphy
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