June 21, 2009


December 3rd, 2008

From the Gazette article, "Operation WiA Tunes gives gift cards to wounded soldiers"
by Meghan Tierney

Like a lot of teenagers, Cat Calantonio loves music and knows classmates who are joining the Army after high school graduation. The two merged this fall when she launched a project to collect music gift cards for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center.


Calantonio, 17, of Poolesville came up with the idea after she attended a fundraiser for soldiers who were recuperating at the Washington, D.C., medical center's campus.


"I really didn't know what to expect," Calantonio, a self-described "music junkie" who listens to country and indie rock, said of meeting wounded veterans at the event. "I was nervous, I thought they were going to be these banged up guys who were a lot older than me, but they were all 21, about my age. These guys just inspired me as soon as I [left]."

Cat Calantonio, 17, a senior at Poolesville High School, started a charity project through the nonprofit America's Wounded Heroes to donate iTunes gift cards to wounded veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Calantonio's mother, Marci Calantonio, told her that mothers of soldiers said they loved iTunes gift cards, which can be used to download music online, because they can be used from anywhere in the world. The idea for Operation WiA Tunes short for Wounded in Action was born.


"When I told her these guys wanted iTunes, her eyes got big as saucers and she said, I can do that,'" Marci Calantonio said.


Donations to the project, formed under the umbrella of the Poolesville-based nonprofit America's Wounded Heroes, are used to buy gift cards for wounded soldiers recovering at Walter Reed and eventually at U.S. military hospitals across the world. Cat Calantonio discussed her ideas with soldiers, one of whom came up with the project's name, garnered support from charities and is reaching out to corporate sponsors, publicizing the project and making arrangements to do fundraising at schools.


"I've blown off my homework a few times, but to me this is more worthwhile," Calantonio, a senior at Poolesville High School, said with a laugh.


The hope is that the music will boost the soldiers' morale and provide an emotional outlet during recovery, Calantonio said. The project dovetails with an initiative by the nonprofit Soldiers' Angels, which distributes iPods to injured veterans at Walter Reed, her mother said.


"Cat's project is a really cool project that will be a big help to the wounded soldiers. They don't have a lot to do in the hospital and they all love music," said Lynn Fullerton, treasurer of America's Wounded Heroes, the nonprofit that hosted the September fundraiser that sparked Calantonio's idea.


Ten gift cards had been donated to the project as of last week, and two corporations said they would discuss donating, Calantonio said. "You can't help but fall in love. [The soldiers are] such great people," Calantonio said. ".On paper it sounds impressive, but I'm really not that cool. I'm just trying to help."

September 25, 2008

VICENZA, Italy -- The Sky Soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team returned here from a 15-month deployment in Afghanistan.

Members of the 2/503 who were seriously wounded during the deployment were in danger of missing out on the Welcome Home party at their home base, but some very generous people chipped in and gathered enough money to fly the wounded warriors there and back.

$29,900 was raised to get these heroes from Walter Reed and BAMC back to Italy and together with their buddies and families.


Staff Sgt. Erich Phillips, mortar platoon sergeant for Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, also known as "The Rock," was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross Sept. 15, 2008, in Vicenza, Italy for his actions Aug. 22, 2007, at Ranch House in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.

The DSC is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the Army, and only the fifth awarded to a servicemember during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Read the rest of the story here.

November 13, 2007

End of the Day Sgt Josh Sparling, SSG Sean Cannon, CPL Robert Schubert and SPC Chase Matthews with their new shotguns and some unlucky ducks.

You gotta hand it to the Veterans of the American Legion -- they really know how to show the younger Vets a great time! Four wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center were treated to a great weekend of shooting and partying with lots of great gifts thrown in and lots of love and respect shared between old and young.

The weekend started out Friday morning. Robert O'Conner, of Home Mediservice Inc. drove the quartet from Walter Reed to the homes of Dennis Reed and Joe Potter in Centerville, MD. From there they headed out to Pintail Point and the young guys were given their new guns: a Charles Daly from Ducks Unlimited, an H&K from Bass Pro Shops and 2 Brownings from Safari International and Maryland Waterfowler's Association.

Everyone got to shoot and they all bagged at least one duck.

Saturday morning, the gang headed out to property owned by two of the Legion members where they hoped to shoot some more ducks. The ducks decided not to cooperate and flew too high to shoot.

Having fun

SSG Cannon helping SGT Sparling with a decoration.
The soldiers were treated to a great dinner Saturday night at the American Legion Jeff Davis Post and Squadron 18 hall in Centerville. Each soldier was presented with a lifetime membership to the Post, the hard case for his shotgun, and several other items of recognition.

The town of Centerville held a Veteran's Day ceremony at the Town Square. It was attendend by over a hundred people and, naturally, lots of speeches. Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, a former Marine who was greviously wounded in Vietnam, gave one of the shortest!

Our heroes were warmly welcomed by the crowd and the gratitude for their service and sacrifice was made apparent.


The Times Herald of Port Huron, MI, did a really nice article this weekend about the charity America's Wounded Heroes and the duck hunt event. For pics of all the fun stuff and some serious photos, see the Photobucket album here.



October 16, 2007

America's Wounded Heroes Sponsors a Night of Comedy

Every three months, Recon Comedy in association with America's Wounded Heroes brings top standup comedians and talented musicians for the soldiers and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This was our fifth show since starting a year ago.

The comedians performing are currently touring the clubs across the country, and have come as far as Michigan, flying into Washington, DC to perform. Sometimes, donations have helped defray the travel costs. Many times, the performers arrived at their own expense.

The show started about 4pm, when I took an hour to set up my equipment, Mike Sparling hauled the sound equipment to the show in his SUV.

Comedians, Kelly Terranova, http://www.myspace.com/kellyterranova, and Chris Barylick, http://www.myspace.com/chrisbarylick, arrived early. They enjoyed talking with the soldiers while enjoying delicious food provided by AWH. Soon after, singer Noel McLeary, http://www.noelmclearyonline.com/, arrived.

Around 5:30, the girls from WiseAcres arrived...Katie, and Jessica. They got to sit and talk with the soldiers for about 90 minutes as the time for the show approached. FYI, Katie is heading to Chicago in a few months, to join the Navy, to be a medic.

Noel sang her heart out. She is so talented. Her voice is stronger than that of a person twice her size. Her singing brought in at least a dozen soldiers just to hear her sing. They stayed for the rest of the show, and that is always good.

Next was special guest, Bert Caswell, who works at the Capital Building. It was his first time at a mic, but he did very well, doing a few presidential impressions, and then reading a poem he wrote that is now part of the Congressional Record.

Sensei Ern did his standard set.

Chris then had his turn. He delivered 15 minutes of solid material. After the show, several soldiers had good things to say about him.

Kelly brought 45 minutes of solid laughter.

Noel finished the show with three more songs. After the show, she met a couple soldiers have connections that could advance her career.



August 20, 2007


Thanks to all who voted for AWH as your favorite charity!

We came in 3rd in VAJoe's Charity for Charities contest and couldn't be happier. There was some awesome competition between a whole bunch of very deserving charities and Troop Support organizations.


Thanks Again to VAJoe's for the oportunity to participate and collect some much needed $$! See our interview along with the other winners.

August 13, 2007


Michigan Radio News - Father of Wounded Soldier Helps Others, by Charity Nebbe


On November 20th, 2005 Joshua Sparling, a soldier from Greenwood Township, Michigan, was seriously injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq. In the year and half that has passed since that day Sparling has undergone almost 40 surgeries, and he still has two more to go.


His father Michael Sparling has been with his son every step of the way. The time he's spent with his son has cost him his job and meant a long separation from the rest of the family, but Mike Sparling has taken on yet another challenge this time not just for his son, but for all wounded servicemen and women. He has founded the group America's Wounded Heroes and he hopes the group will provide support as wounded veterans make the transition from the hospital to the homefront.


He talked with Michigan Radio's Charity Nebbe from his son's hospital room at Walter Reed Medical Center.


August 11, 2007


America's Wounded Heroes, Soldier's Angels and FreeRepublic.com feed the 82nd Airborne at Walter Reed Army Medical Center

82nd Banner


Well, maybe not the whole division, but at least 300 Soldiers, family and friends gathered behind the Malogne House for a great party and lots of good food.


crowd gathering chow line cooks


July 29 , 2007


Michigan Times Herald, Father starts vets group -- Man hopes to support injured soldiers, families By MOLLY MONTAG


It doesn't matter how a serviceman is injured - a robber's bullet, arsonist's fire or a terrorist's bomb. Michael Sparling of Greenwood Township says he wants his newly-formed group to help them all.


America's Wounded Heroes aims to fill the gap as soldiers and other servicemen leave hospitals and learn to live with their injuries.


"I see so many guys and families leaving Walter Reed and Bethesda, Md., with absolutely nothing," Sparling said. "(They) don't have anything to go back to because their lives were the military." He was inspired to start the group by the soldiers he met at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C.


Mike Sparling

Sparling spent countless days in and around the hospital since his son Joshua, a paratrooper in the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne division, was injured last year by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Joshua Sparling, 25, a Yale High School graduate, has undergone nearly 40 surgeries to repair the damage and still has two more to go.

The organization not only will benefit soldiers injured in battle, but paramedics, firefighters, police officers and other servicemen. Soldiers do not have to be deployed to receive help, Sparling said.


"If you get hurt defending Americans, you have just as much right to our foundation as a soldier fighting in Ramadi, Iraq, because they're (all) protecting us," Sparling said.


Read the rest (Link no longer available)