Veterans Day Volunteering

Patriot Point thanks the senior members of the Gonzaga College High School lacrosse team for spending their day off from school for Veterans Day volunteering at Patriot Point. The group arrived in the morning and spent several hours moving boxes, clearing brush and other chores to help improve the property.

The visit was Coach Casey O’Neill’s idea after he participated in the 2018 DC Touchdown Club True Heroes Golf Tournament benefiting Patriot Point.

“I was sitting there at the event, making small talk and looking at what Patriot Point is,” O’Neill said, noting that in the past his teams have sent packages to service members abroad and done volunteer work with Children’s Hospital. “I told [Patriot Point founding partner] Stuart [Plank] and [Military Bowl Foundation President & Executive Director] Steve [Beck] that I would love to bring the team to Patriot Point. I don’t know if they thought I was serious or just making small talk, but I followed up with Steve.”

The trip was an eye-opener, O’Neill said, noting that in addition to doing work at Patriot Point, his players had the opportunity to tour the property and meet Gold Star families who were visiting.

“I can’t say it enough, the boys loved it,” O’Neill said. “They were tired when they got home. But one dad reached out to me and said, ‘My son doesn’t ever talk around the dinner table, but he couldn’t stop talking about his day.’ It was really neat to see first-hand exactly what Patriot Point is and how special it is.

Veterans Day Gold Star Families

Patriot Point hosted a group of five Gold Star families for a retreat this past weekend.

“It was awesome, very peaceful and restful and something we all needed,” said Jane Horton, whose husband, Specialist Christopher Horton, was an army sniper killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. “Stuff we used to do with our loved ones – I used to fish with my husband – and things many of us haven’t done in years or ever done.”

The group arrived on Friday for Veterans Day weekend and stayed through Monday, enjoying many of the activities Patriot Point has to offer. They fished, enjoyed a duck hunt and went skeet shooting. “And relaxed,” Horton added.

“It was a fantastic weekend,” said Kylie Owen Willis, whose father, Staff Sergeant Kirk Owen, was the squad leader for the scout and sniper platoon on which Horton served; Owen was killed in action one month before Horton. “We got together as mostly people who didn’t know each other at the beginning of the weekend. We hunted duck together, cooked for each other, sat around the fire and roasted marshmallows together. We could be ourselves and there were people who could understand what I had been through.”