Honoring a War Hero – Spokane, WA March 6-7, 2010

March 27, 2010 by  
Filed under News

I just returned from Washington, where I was invited to be a special guest at the Friends of the NRA Association Banquet in Spokane. Will Parks, Director of Adventure Dynamics, was gracious enough to let me bring my last box of calendars, and more importantly to allow me to present a surprise award to one of the evening’s honored military heroes, Sgt. 1st Class, Josh Olsen.

Josh probably wouldn’t want me to make a fuss over his heroism, but you should know who he is and what amazing things he is doing. In 2003, Josh was severely wounded when his company of the 101st Airborne was attacked in Iraq. The injury forced Josh out of the war, taking one of his legs, but it did not take his spirit. Undeterred, Josh came home and stayed in the Army where he not only became a top competitive shooter with the Army Marksmanship Unit, but also a mentor and instructor to other soldiers.

Amazingly, six years later, Josh returned to Iraq as part of Operation Proper Exit, which is a program that allows wounded soldiers to, in his own words, “go back and exit under their own power.” This is instrumental in helping injured vets deal with their psychological wounds, which are often overshadowed by the physical ones. Josh now mentors other in the program, demonstrating to all of us how truly heroic our men and women in uniform are, and how even after coming home, they continue to contribute in so many incredible ways.

As I presented Josh his brand new 308 Caliber piston action rifle, generously donated by Frank DeSoma of Patriot Ordinance Factory, I was humbled by the opportunity to thank him for his service, which meant so much to me. This, folks, is exactly why I did my calendar project in the first place! Meeting heroes like Josh makes it all worthwhile! In addition, I also got to have dinner with beautiful, 22-year old Shannon Rutlidge, who was the evening’s recipient of the Forrest Ewens Warrior Ethos Award. As an outstanding ROTC cadet from Gonzaga University, Shannon more than earned this award by performing and placing in the top 2% of all cadets in the Nation! She was humble, gracious, and absolutely charming, but make no mistake about it, this girl is tough, and if you needed someone to watch your back, she would be the one you would want beside you!

I can tell you all that I sleep very well at night knowing that it is people like Josh and Shannon who are protecting and preserving our freedoms by serving our great country. Politics aside, they are the heart and backbone of our nation, and it makes me truly proud to know they represent us so well. What a great night I had in Spokane, I cannot thank all the people involved enough for their generosity and warm and welcoming hearts. And just remember, next time you see someone in uniform, just take a moment to say thanks, it is a gesture that means so much.