“Hey, Mike wants to play 100 holes of golf in one day!” “Wait, what?” “For the Folds of Honor scholarships.” “Sounds great, I’m in!” This was the conversation between Brenda “Gabby” Gregory and her husband, COL (Retired) Kevin Gregory in mid-August.
On September 11th with the firing of two Civil War Pack Howitzers crewed by John and Stormy Brasuk, Mike Rogers – PGA Professional at the Palmer Course, Stonewall Resort and COL (Retired) Kevin Gregory US Army, teed off at 7:12 am with the goal of completing 100 holes of golf and raising $5,000 for the Folds of Honor Charity.
Folds of Honor was founded in 2007 by LtCol Dan Rooney (USAF) when he saw a Soldier in dress uniform on a flight to Grand Rapids, MI (United Flight 664). Little did LtCol Rooney know at that time, CPL Bucklin was escorting the body of his twin brother, CPL Brock Bucklin, home to his final resting place. Remaining in his seat, LtCol Rooney watched out the aircraft window as CPL Bucklin walked alongside the American Flag draped casket to greet and return his twin brother’s body to Brock’s Family and awaiting young son. At that moment LtCol Rooney knew he had to do something to support the Families of fallen military members.
Since 2007, Folds of Honor has awarded over 44,000 scholarships to fallen service members’ families. Expanding their mission to include our First Responders, Folds of Honor now provides scholarships to the family members of those First Responders who have given their full last measure in service to our country. Thirty-four scholarships have been awarded to family members in West Virginia by the Folds of Honor.
Gregory understands the cost of war and the impact it has on the families of the fallen. On his cart was the names of 7 fallen Soldiers he served beside in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003 to 2009. And the name of his cousin CPL Ben Dillon, 3rd Battalion, 75th Rangers, who was Killed in Action in Iraq a month before then LTC Gregory lead his Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 29th Fires Battalion back to Iraq for his third combat deployment. “Downrange when you lose a Soldier, a battle buddy, a friend, it’s tough, there is a hole in your soul, your spirit, but the mission continues and your team moves forward, never forgetting, but you move forward – there’s a job to do. When you return home and meet the family who entrusted their loved one with you and you didn’t bring them home alive – it stays with you – forever…we owe these families so much.”
Mike Rogers was playing the Tri-State PGA Professional Tournament on the morning of September 11th, 2001, in Pennsylvania. Many playing that day, as Mike Rogers did, noticed a commercial airliner on a very low flight path pass over the course – a little later they received word of the attacks. Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, PA, shortly after the passengers fought to regain control of the aircraft from the terrorists that fateful morning.
On Mike’s cart were the names of 6 First Responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. John Forbush of Gassaway was one of those names on Mike’s cart.
“In order to complete 100 holes in a day (5 x 18-hole rounds, plus 10 more holes) you have to have a great support team” Gregory said. Brenda “Gabby” Gregory, Palmer Course Pro Shop & Staff Manager pulled volunteers together to move ahead of the Rogers and Gregory to ask the groups to let them play through. The Steve and Scott Mohr from Fairmont assisted the team by providing hand decorated golf balls with Stars and Stripes and then by clearing course traffic. Stonewall staff provided food and water and kept the team moving. Several other golf staff members volunteered their own time to support as well, Ron Shingleton, Dave Pitcher, Tim Lester, Brandon Gray, Roger Stewart and Larry Lawrence.
By 3:18 pm, it was complete, in a little over 8 hours of running from cart to tee and cart to green, they completed 108 holes! Rogers said, “we were joined on hole 89 by Eric Rogucki, whose father was a Navy Veteran and Gilmer County Fireman, and he gave us a boost of energy to complete an extra 8 holes and finish 6 complete rounds.”
Afterwards, Gregory said “during the event you just keep going, drink water, move out! Now we are done and have time to reflect, it was a great event, and we are getting closer to our goal of raising $5,000 for the Folds of Honor – it’s completely worth the stiff joints and sore muscles.”
Gregory and Rogers wanted to thank all those who donated to the Folds of Honor and to remind everyone they can donate to the Folds of Honor at any time throughout the year. They also ask everyone to continue to support our First Responders and Military members who are standing watch 24/7 ready to sacrifice it all for our Nation.