Opinion: Who were those unfamiliar audience faces at Bush’s farewell address?
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Here, as promised, is some background on the audience you saw listening and applauding President Bush’s Farewell Address this evening. BTW, the complete text of Bush’s address as delivered is available here. And The Ticket took a fun historical look at past presidential farewells right here this morning.
Besides friends and family, including First Lady Laura Bush and their daughters Barbara and Jenna, plus every member of the Cabinet, the audience included people the President had met during his eight years in office. He told a few of their stories in his remarks, but there were too many to mention all.
Even as Texas governor, Bush has strictly confined media coverage of his meetings with survivors and families of disasters or tragedies. So, many of the guests at tonight’s remarks are new to the nation. Reading their short biographies, however, provides some revealing insights into how the president or First Lady came into their lives and stayed in contact with them.
After TV viewers nationwide saw the president’s speech, they also saw him leave the podium to applause. What wasn’t shown one minute later was his return to the East Room where the guests gave him a standing ovation and gathered around him to exchange greetings.
President-elect Obama did not watch the 13-minute speech’s delivery live. He left the presidential guest residence, Blair House just across Pennsylvania Avenue, for dinner out just as it started.
The East Room guests’ backgrounds are below.
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Tonight, the President made his Farewell Address to the Nation from the East Room of The White House. Audience members will include Mrs. Laura Bush, Vice President Cheney, Mrs. Cheney, members of the Cabinet, and individuals the President has met during his time in office.
These individuals have demonstrated great acts of courage and compassion and have inspired the President.
BIOGRAPHIES OF PARTICIPANTS
Bob Beckwith, Retired Firefighter, FDNY (Baldwin, New York)
Bob Beckwith is a retired FDNY firefighter who met President Bush on September 14, 2001, at Ground Zero in New York City. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and despite being retired, Mr. Beckwith went to Ground Zero to aid fellow firemen and rescue personnel to search for survivors amongst the rubble of the World Trade Center. During President Bush’s visit to Ground Zero on September 14, 2001, the President saluted heroes in New York and spoke atop a burned-out fire engine with Mr. Beckwith at his side.
Zach Bonner, Recipient, Presidential Volunteer Service Award (Valrico, Florida)
Zach Bonner is the creator of the Little Red Wagon Foundation, Inc. Following Hurricane Charley in 2004, Zach collected supplies for families affected by the storm, and his grassroots effort resulted in the donation of 27 truckloads of supplies for families in need. After Hurricane Katrina, Bonner organized a toy drive and delivered the gifts to children in hurricane-stricken regions. In 2005, at age eight, Bonner created the Little Red Wagon Foundation as a non-profit organization to provide opportunities for kids to help other kids in need.
He has assembled more than 1200 backpacks, called Zachpacks, filled with donated snacks, personal-hygiene items, first-aid kits, and toys. President Bush met Zach outside of Air Force One when traveling to Tampa, Florida, on September 21, 2006. In recognition for Zach’s....
...volunteer efforts, the President presented him with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.
Thomas Boyd, Graduate, Jericho Program (Baltimore, Maryland)
Thomas Boyd is a graduate of the Jericho Program, which is a program sponsored by the Episcopal Community Services of Maryland, a non-profit, faith-based organization. With funding from the Department of Labor, the program helps men rebuild their lives and return to positive productive roles. Before entering the Jericho Program,
Mr. Boyd spent 20 years of his life using drugs anin and out of jail. It was not until his daughter spoke to him about her concerns for him that he sought the help of this faith-based organization. Following the President’s visit with Mr. Boyd at the Jericho Program, the President invited him as a special guest at the signing of H.R. 1593, the Second Chance Act of 2007, at the White House on April 9, 2008.
Kirbyjon Caldwell, Senior Pastor, Windsor Village, and wife Suzette Caldwell, Associate Pastor, Windsor Village (Houston, Texas)
Kirbyjon Caldwell and his wife Suzette are the Senior Pastor and Associate Pastor, respectively, at Windsor Village, a Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. It is the largest Methodist Church in the United States. Reverend Caldwell delivered the benediction at President Bush’s 2001 and 2005 Inauguration Ceremonies, and both Pastors Kirbyjon and Suzette Caldwell were guests of Mrs. Bush at the 2004 State of the Union. On May 10, 2008, Pastor Caldwell presided over the wedding of Jenna Bush to Henry Hager in Crawford, Texas.
Keela Carr, Recipient, Presidential Volunteer Service Award (Apopka, Florida)
In 2007, Keela Carr visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and was profoundly affected by the service members’ sacrifice on behalf of all Americans. In an effort to honor all soldiers and veterans and thank them personally, Carr decided to walk across the United States in what she called her Journey of a Thousand Thanks. Carr began in Barstow, California, on May 26, 2008, and walked nearly 2,700 miles before completing her journey at Arlington National Cemetery on August 8, 2008.
She financed the walk by selling most of her possessions and enlisting help from private donations for shoes, travel, and lodging expenses. For her efforts, Carr was recognized by the U.S. Army’s Freedom Team Salute Program and was named its 500th Volunteer Ambassador. Freedom Team Salute is a U.S. Army program that gives the public the opportunity to thank Army Veterans for their service by recognizing them with commendations. In recognition of Carr’s efforts, the President presented her with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award in Orlando, Florida, on August 20, 2008.
Rocco Chierichella, Retired Firefighter, FDNY (Masthope, Pennsylvania)
Rocco Chierichella is a retired firefighter with the FDNY. On September 11, 2001, Mr. Chierichella left his home and went to Ground Zero in New York City to aid his fellow firemen and other rescue personnel as they searched for survivors from the devastating terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. On September 14, 2001, during the President’s remarks with emergency personnel Mr. Chierichella yelled, “I can’t hear you.” The President then responded by saying, “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
Connie Duckworth, President and Founder, Arzu (Lake Forest, Illinois)
Connie Duckworth is the President and Founder of Arzu, which is a social entrepreneurship not-for-profit venture. Arzu focuses on designing, producing, and selling rugs hand-woven by Afghan women to support education, health care and community-building projects in Afghanistan. Ms. Duckworth is a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council established by President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai in 2002. Arzu has become one of the Council’s most successful programs. Mrs. Duckworth attended the White House Conference on Global Literacy on September 18, 2006, in New York, New York.
Sergeant Neil Duncan, USA (Maple Grove, Minnesota)
Army Sergeant Neil Duncan was severely injured in Afghanistan on December 5, 2005, when an improvised explosive device (IED) ripped through his HMMWV. Neil was seriously wounded as a result of the explosion, and he lost both of his legs, shattered his jaw, broke his elbow and hand, and sustained multiple shrapnel wounds. President Bush met Sergeant Duncan at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on July 24, 2006. During the President’s visit, he invited Sergeant Duncan to come to the White House after he recovered to run with him on the South Lawn. On July 25, 2007, Sergeant Duncan visited the President in the Oval Office and ran with him on the South Lawn.
Lieutenant Colonel Greg Gadson, USA (Chesapeake, Virginia)
Lieutenant Colonel Greg Gadson, USA, was a Battalion Commander of the 2nd Battalion 32nd Field Artillery in Baghdad, Iraq, in May 2007. While returning to the Battalion Tactical Operations Center from a memorial service, Lieutenant Colonel Gadson’s HMMWV was ambushed using an improvised explosive device. The President met Lieutenant Colonel Gadson at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in December 2007.
Lieutenant Colonel Gadson visited the White House twice in April 2008, once as a part of Soldier Ride, an event the President hosted on the South Lawn to honor America’s Wounded Warriors, and as an honorary Captain of the New York Giants, the 2008 Super Bowl Champions. Lieutenant Colonel Gadson also served on the Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, on September 6, 2008.
Mike Gottfried, Founder and CEO, Team Focus (Mobile, Alabama)
Mike Gottfried is the Founder and CEO of Team Focus, which helps fatherless boys age 9-17 by providing them with leadership skills, guidance, and an ongoing relationship with a mentor through summer camps and other events. Mr. Gottfried previously was a college football coach at Murray State, Cincinnati, Kansas, and Pittsburgh, and he is now a college football analyst for ESPN. Mrs. Bush visited the Team Focus’ National Leadership Camp in Mobile, Alabama, as part of her Helping America’s Youth Initiative. The President has also welcomed Mr. Gottfried and members of Team Focus to the Oval Office.
Lieutenant Eric Greitens, U.S. Navy Reserve; Recipient, President’s Volunteer Service Award (St. Louis, Missouri)
Lieutenant Eric Greitens serves as a United States Navy SEAL and has deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia. After returning to the United States from Iraq in April 2007, Lieutenant Greitens used his combat pay to help start the Center for Citizen Leadership. The program helps wounded soldiers pursue careers in public service through a fellowship program called The Mission Continues. President Bush presented the President’s Volunteer Service Award to Lieutenant Greitens in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 3, 2008.
Cordia Harrington, CEO, Nashville Bun Company and husband Tom (Nashville, Tennessee)
Cordia Harrington is the CEO of the Nashville Bun Company, and her husband Tom serves as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. The President visited the Nashville Bun Company on July 19, 2007, at the invitation of Mrs. Harrington, who has earned the nickname “The Bun Lady.” The Nashville Bun Company is one of five companies founded by Cordia Harrington under her management company, The Tennessee Bun Companies.
Elizabeth “Beth” Hatton, September 11, Widow, and daughter Terri (age 6) (New York, New York)
Beth Hatton’s husband, Terry Hatton, was Captain of NYFD Rescue Company 1 and was killed in the line of duty while responding to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Following his death, Mrs. Hatton learned she was pregnant, and she delivered their baby daughter Terri on May 15, 2002. Since Terri’s birth, the President has visited with both Beth and Terri.
Steve Hewitt, City Administrator, City of Greensburg, Kansas (Greensburg, Kansas)
Steve Hewitt is the City Administrator of Greensburg, Kansas. On the night of May 4, 2007, a Category 5 tornado struck Kiowa County, Kansas, destroying the City of Greensburg, which had a population of approximately 1,300 residents. On May 9, 2007, President Bush visited the City of Greensburg and pledged assistance from the Federal government. With the leadership of Administrator Steve Hewitt, the City of Greensburg is making progress, and in 2008, he was named City and County Magazine Municipal Leader of the Year.
Mr. Hewitt was a guest of Mrs. Bush at the 2008 State of the Union and invited the President to revisit Greensburg, Kansas, and deliver the Commencement Address at the local high school. The President accepted Mr. Hewitt’s offer, and on May 4, 2008, the President delivered the Commencement Address at Greensburg High School.
Shannon Hickey, Recipient, Presidential Volunteer Service Award (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
At the age of 11, Shannon Hickey started a non-profit organization to further the legacy of her favorite priest, Father Mychal Judge, a chaplain for the New York Fire Department who was killed on September 11, 2001, when he was hit by debris from the World Trade Center. Mychal’s Message is dedicated to continuing the work of Father Judge by meeting the needs of the homeless and sharing his message of unconditional love with others. The President awarded Shannon with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award on September 22, 2004, and she was a guest of Mrs. Bush at the 2007 State of the Union Address.
Arlene Howard, Mother of Officer Killed on September 11, 2001 (New York, New York)
Arlene Howard’s son, George Howard, was a Police Officer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and perished in the terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The President met Ms. Howard on September 14, 2001, in New York, New York. During their visit she gave the President her son’s police badge, which he kept as a reminder of all that was lost and of the responsibilities that laid ahead. The President told this story in his Address to a Joint Session of Congress on September 20, 2001, and he still carries the badge with him today as a constant reminder of the lessons of that fateful day.
Jeff and Peggy Hubbard, Parents of Lance Corporal Jared Hubbard, USMC, and Corporal Nathan Hubbard, USA, and son, Specialist Jason Hubbard, USA (Clovis, California)
Jeff and Peggy Hubbard are the proud parents of Army Specialist Jason Hubbard. The Hubbards’ two other sons, Marine Lance Corporal Jared Hubbard and Army Corporal Nathan Hubbard, were both killed in Iraq; Jared died on November 4, 2004, and Nathan died on August 22, 2007, respectively. Their brother, Army Specialist Jason Hubbard, was discharged from the Army as a sole survivor, but because of antiquated laws, he was denied separation benefits. On August 29, 2008, the President welcomed Jeff, Peggy, and Jason Hubbard to the Oval Office as he signed H.R. 6580, The Hubbard Act, which provides sole survivors a number of benefits already offered to other soldiers honorably discharged from military service.
First Lieutenant Andrew Kinard, USMC (Spartanburg, South Carolina)
First Lieutenant Andrew Kinard, USMC, graduated from the United States Naval Academy on May 27, 2005. President Bush was the keynote speaker at the commencement address and presented Mr. Kinard with his diploma. On September 11, 2006, First Lieutenant Kinard was deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Marine Division’s 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
Two months into his tour, First Lieutenant Kinard was on patrol in Iraq and was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED). He lost both of his legs, one above the knee and other at the hip, and caused several other internal and external injuries. The President visited First Lieutenant Kinard and other wounded service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on March 30, 2007, and the President saw First Lieutenant Kinard again in Columbia, South Carolina, on November 2, 2007. First Lieutenant Kinard was a guest of Mrs. Bush for the 2008 State of the Union Address, and he participated in April 2008 as part of Soldier Ride, an event the President hosted on the South Lawn to honor America’s Wounded Warriors.
Wendy Kopp, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Teach For America (New York, New York)
Wendy Kopp is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Teach For America, the national corps of recent college graduates who commit two years to teach urban and rural public schools. Ms. Kopp proposed the creation of Teach For America in her undergraduate senior thesis in 1989, and she has spent the last 19 years working to sustain and grow the organization.
In the 2008-2009 school year, more than 6,000 corps members are teaching in our country’s neediest communities, reaching more than 400,000 students. They join more than 14,000 Teach For America alumni who are already assuming significant leadership roles in education and social reform. Ms. Kopp was a guest of Mrs. Bush at the President’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress on February 27, 2001, and the President also presented her the Presidential Citizens Medal on December 10, 2008, in the Oval Office.
Shannon Maxwell, Recipient, Presidential Volunteer Service Award, and husband Lieutenant Colonel Tim Maxwell (Jacksonville, N.C.)
In October 2004, Shannon’s husband, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Maxwell, USMC, was severely wounded in Iraq after shrapnel from a mortar attack left him with a penetrating traumatic brain injury. Shannon co-founded Hope for the Warriors, a non-profit organization whose mission is to enhance the quality of life for service members and their families nationwide who have been impacted by injuries or death in the line of duty. The President presented Mrs. Maxwell with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award at the White House Military Spouse event on May 11, 2007.
Julio Medina, Executive Director, Exodus Transitional Community (New York, N.Y.)
Julio Medina was arrested as a teenager for selling drugs, leading to a 12-year prison sentence. During his prison sentence, Mr. Medina obtained his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany and a Masters of Professional Studies from the New York Theological Seminary. In September 1996, he was released from prison and began work as a counselor with substance addicted and HIV/AIDS-affected individuals.
In 1999, Mr. Medina obtained funding to form the Exodus Transitional Community (ETC), a safe haven where ex-offenders seek help and support. Mr. Medina was a guest of Mrs. Bush at the 2004 State of the Union.
Aviation Survival Technician First Class Willard “Wil” Milam, USCG (Phoenix, Arizona)
Petty Officer Willard “Wil” Milam entered the Coast Guard in 1992 after serving six years in the Navy. On February 10, 2007, Petty Officer Milam responded to a distress signal in the Bering Sea. When arriving on location, he located a life raft from a boat that had sunk an hour earlier. Petty Officer Milam deployed into the 40-degree water to begin to rescue four individuals who were mildly hypothermic.
Even though Petty Officer Milam began to feel numbness in his legs due to the cold water, he was able to successfully rescue all four survivors in the life raft. Petty Officer Milam’s military decorations total nearly 45 awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals, three Letters of Commendations, the 2007 Coast Guard Foundation Award for Heroism, and 2007 Captain Frank Erickson Aviation Rescue Award. Petty Officer Milam was a guest in the First Lady’s Box during the 2008 State of the Union Address.
Tracey Miller, Principal, Dublin Coffman High School (Dublin, Ohio)
Tracey Miller is the Principal of Dublin Coffman High School located in Dublin, Ohio. Previously, he was the Principal at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio, where President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act on January 8, 2002. This bipartisan law brought both Republicans and Democrats together to expand opportunities for American children of all backgrounds and to provide all our children with the quality education they deserve while preserving local control. President Bush transformed the Federal government’s approach to education through NCLB and the results are clear: African American and Hispanic students have posted all-time highs in a number of categories.
Homira Nassery, First-Time Voter from Afghanistan (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Homira Nassery was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and later left the country as a child with her family. She worked as a public health and gender specialist for the World Bank in Rwanda, Eritrea, Mozambique, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan, working for Save the Children, the non-government organization that offers health and early child development programs in Northern Afghanistan, as well as the United Nations in Kabul, and USAID in Helmand province, the latter being the center of Taliban activity and an active combat zone.
In 2005, Ms. Nassery was a guest of Mrs. Bush in the State of the Union Box, representing all first-time women voters in Afghanistan. Ms. Nassery now works on fragile states for the World Bank in Washington, D.C, and hopes to return to Afghanistan to continue the struggle against extremism.
Judea Pearl, Father of Daniel Pearl (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Judea Pearl is the father of Wall Street Journal Reporter Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002. The President welcomed Judea and Ruth Pearl to the White House for the 2007 Hanukkah Reception, where the menorah used for the ceremony belonged to the family of Daniel Pearl. After an exhaustive search involving 12 cousins in three countries, the Pearl family located the family menorah that Chaim Pearl, Daniel’s great-grandfather, brought with him from Poland to Israel in 1924.
In the video message recorded before Daniel Pearl was killed on February 2, 2002, he referenced his great-grandfather Chaim by stating “Back in the town of Bnei Brak there is a street named after my great grandfather, Chaim Pearl, who was one of the founders of the town.” The Daniel Pearl Foundation was founded in 2002 to confront the hatred that took Daniel’s life and to promote cross-cultural understanding through journalism, music, and dialogue.
Sergeant Max Ramsey, USA (Hilton Head, S. C.)
Army Sergeant Maxwell Ramsey was severely injured in Ramadi, Iraq, on March 1, 2006, when an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated under his HMMWV. As a result of the explosion, Sergeant Ramsey was seriously wounded, resulting in the loss of his left leg above the knee, and the breaking of his right ankle. President Bush first met Sergeant Ramsey at Walter Reed Army Medical Center during a visit with wounded military personnel on July 24, 2006. President Bush invited Sergeant Ramsey to come to the White House after he recovered to run with him on the South Lawn. On July 25, 2007, Sergeant Ramsey visited the President in the Oval Office and ran with him on the South Lawn.
Dr. Tony “Doc” Recasner, Principal, Samuel J. Green Charter School (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Dr. Tony “Doc” Recasner is the Principal of the Samuel J. Green Charter School located in New Orleans, Louisiana. On January 9, 2006, Samuel J. Green Charter School merged with the highly successful New Orleans Charter Middle School (the first charter school in New Orleans), which was flooded and destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, and re-opened to serve 350 students, kindergarten through eighth grade. President Bush visited the school on March 1, 2007, where Dr. Recasner led the President on a tour of classrooms, and the President delivered remarks on education at the school.
Colleen Saffron, Recipient, Presidential Volunteer Service Award (Harker Heights, Texas)
In May 2004, Colleen Saffron’s husband, Staff Sergeant Terry Saffron, USA, was severely injured in Iraq. In March 2007, she partnered with a Navy and Air Force spouse to create Operation Life Transformed, a non-profit charitable foundation that educates and trains military spouses and caregivers of war-wounded troops in accelerated certification programs, such as medical coding and transcription that will allow them to work from home while caring for their loved ones. Colleen, who is legally deaf, is also a volunteer with Texas Hearing and Service Dogs, an organization that trains dogs, free of charge, to assist people living with deafness or mobility-related issues. The President awarded Mrs. Saffron with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award at the White House Military Spouse event on May 6, 2008.
Windy Smith, Guest Speaker, 2000 RNC Convention (Knoxville, Tennessee)
Windy Smith, who has Down Syndrome, wrote a letter of encouragement to the President when he was the Governor of Texas. It had such a positive impact on the President that Ms. Smith was asked to read the letter aloud at the 2000 RNC Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In her letter, she told the story of why she supported George W. Bush for President and about her own accomplishments as an individual with special needs.
Windy also served for four years on The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. She has made several TV ads to help recruit special education teachers in Tennessee. Using the theme of encouragement, she tells others to try your best and help others to make a difference for good in the world. Joining Ms. Smith are her parents Dr. David and Vicki Smith. The Smith family is from Knoxville, Tennessee.
Kevin Sterne, Graduate Student, Virginia Tech (Eighty Four, Pennsylvania)
Kevin Sterne is a Graduate Student at Virginia Tech and was a 2007 graduate of Virginia Tech with a double degree in Electrical Engineering and in Media Communications. Mr. Sterne was in Norris Hall on Virginia Tech’s campus on April 16, 2007, when a shooter went on a rampage killing 32 people and then himself. Mr. Sterne used an electrical cord as a tourniquet to stop his wounds from bleeding until the rampage ended, and he could be carried to safety by emergency personnel.
The photograph of Mr. Sterne being carried by rescue workers with the tourniquet around his wounded leg became a defining image of the worst school shooting in our country’s history. Mr. Sterne was the guest of Mrs. Bush at the 2008 State of the Union.
Kerri Walsh, Gold Medalist, U.S. Beach Volleyball (Saratoga, California)
Kerri Walsh won Olympic Gold at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The President welcomed Ms. Walsh and other Olympic athletes to the White House for dinner prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics to wish them well. The President also traveled to Beijing, China, to cheer on Team USA and watched Kerri Walsh and her Beach Volleyball partner, Misty May-Treanor, compete for Olympic Gold.
Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, Navy (Retired), U.S. Malaria Coordinator, President’s Malaria Initiative (Washington, D.C.)
In June 2006, Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer was appointed by President Bush to be the U.S. Malaria Coordinator for the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). The PMI is a historic $1.2 billion, five-year initiative to halt the spread of malaria in Africa. Announced by President Bush on June 30, 2005, it is a collaborative U.S. Government effort led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the Department of State, the White House, and other government agencies. Rear Admiral Ziemer previously served as Executive Director of World Relief, which provides disaster response, community development, child/maternal health, HIV/AIDS, agricultural assistance, and microcredit programs in over 30 countries.
Staff Sergeant Christian Bagge, USA (The Dell, Oregon)
In 2005, Staff Sergeant Christian Bagge, USA, lost both of his legs in Iraq when a roadside bomb hit his HMMWV. He was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, to be treated and to begin his recovery process. President Bush met him at Brooke Army Medical Center while visiting wounded military personnel on January 1, 2006. President Bush invited Staff Sergeant Bagge to come to the White House after he recovered to run with him on the South Lawn. On June 27, 2006, the President welcomed Staff Sergeant Bagge to the White House and the two ran together on the South Lawn.
John Gonsalves, President and Founder, Homes for Our Troops (Taunton, Massachusetts)
John Gonsalves is the President and Founder of Homes for Our Troops, which is an organization that assists severely injured military personnel and their immediate families by collecting donations, building materials, professional labor, and coordinating the process of building a new home or adapting an existing home for handicapped accessibility. On January 14, 2009, the President welcomed John Gonsalves into the Oval Office.
Thandazile Darby, South African Native, PEPFAR Recipient, and daughter Emily (age 8), and son Lewis (age 7)
Thandazile Darby from South Africa is a 39-year-old single mother of two children, Emily, age 8, and Lewis, age 7. After finding out that the family was HIV-positive five years ago, Thandazile Darby and her children received life-saving antiretroviral treatment at the McCord Hospital’s Sinikithemba HIV Center, which is supported by the American people through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In December 2005, the President and Mrs. Bush welcomed the Darby family to the White House during a World AIDS Day speech.
Today, Thandazile and her children are in good health, and Thandazile continues to be a supportive mother, whose main focus has been caring for her children. She is passionate about helping people understand more about HIV and has counseled many of her friends and family to get tested for HIV.
Guy “Buck” and Tess Davis, Parents of Specialist First Class Steven Davis, USA, son Sergeant Christopher Davis, USA, and daughter-in-law Michelle Davis (Woodbridge, Virginia)
Army Specialist First Class Steven Davis was killed in Iraq on July 4, 2007, when insurgents attacked his unit with grenades. At the time of his death, his mother, Tess Davis, was working as a paramedic in Iraq, and his grandfather was in the country as a mechanic. Specialist First Class Steven Davis’ younger brother, Sergeant Christopher Davis, also served in Iraq and their father Guy “Buck” Davis is also an Army Veteran. The President spoke about Steven’s death and his family’s commitment to the United States in his speech to the 89th Annual National Convention of the American Legion on August 28, 2007.
Technical Sergeant Israel Del Toro, USAF (Chicago, Illinois)
Technical Sergeant Israel Del Toro, USAF was deployed in Afghanistan and was on a mission to retrieve a combat team when his vehicle was the target of an IED attack in December 2005. He sustained severe burns to his face, arms, and hands, with lacerations to his upper arm and left thigh, in addition to inhalation injuries.
Burns covered 80 percent of his body, and he lost the top portion of all fingers, his left ear, and nose cartilage as a result. President Bush visited his hospital room on January 1, 2006, at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Technical Sergeant Del Toro was unaware of the President’s visit as he was in a medically induced coma until April 2006. Since that time, Technical Sergeant Del Toro has made a miraculous recovery, motivated largely by his desire to set a good example for his young son.
Former Senator Bob Dole (R, KS), Co-Chair, President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors (Russell, Kansas)
In March 2007, President Bush selected former Senator Bob Dole as Co-Chair of the Commission on Care for Wounded Warriors, along with former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala. The President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors conducted a comprehensive review of the care provided to service members returning from the Global War on Terror from the time they leave the battlefield through their return to civilian life.
Born in Russell, Kansas, Senator Dole has served his country in several capacities, including as a soldier in World War II, a Representative, a Senator, national chairman of the Republican Party, President Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976, and the Republican Party nominee for president in 1996. In 1997, President Clinton awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also received the American Patriot Award in 2004 for his lifelong dedication to America and his service in World War II. Senator Dole was a guest of Mrs. Bush at the 2008 State of the Union.
Mohamad Kalyesubula, Uganda Native, PEPFAR Recipient
Mohamad Kalyesubula is a 48-year-old Ugandan and father of six. After falling gravely ill in May 2003, he went to The AIDS Support Organization (TASO)’s Entebbe clinic, where he was tested for HIV, received an HIV-positive diagnosis, and he was enrolled in care services. In July 2003, while Mohamad was bed-ridden and had little-to-no immune system, he met with President Bush and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during President Bush’s visit to Uganda.
In October 2003, Mohamad started antiretroviral treatment at TASO’s Entebbe clinic, which is supported by the American people through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In July 2008, Mohamad visited the White House as a guest of President Bush to attend the signing of H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008. Today, Mohamad is healthy, happy, and a contributing member of his community. He volunteers at TASO Entebbe, giving health talks and distributing basic health care kits to newly diagnosed clients and their families.
Staff Sergeant Scott Lilley, USAF (Roswell, New Mexico)
Staff Sergeant Scott Lilley, USAF, suffered severe head injuries from an IED attack in Baghdad, Iraq. Scott’s parents Frank and Jolene Lilley met the President after a Marine One arrival rope line at the White House on May 13, 2007.
Following that meeting, the President called Staff Sergeant Lilley’s hospital room to invite Staff Sergeant Lilley and his family to the 4th of July celebration at the White House that summer. After the 4th of July celebration the President invited Staff Sergeant Lilley and his family to visit the Oval Office on May 20, 2008, to get a first hand update on Scott’s recovery.
Specialist Sergio Lopez, USA (Joliet, Illinois)
Specialist Sergio Lopez was injured on January 4, 2006, while serving in Baghdad, Iraq. He was severely injured and was forced to have below the knee amputation on both of his legs. The President met Specialist Lopez on July 24, 2006, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was sworn-in as an American citizen during a naturalization ceremony.
Staff Sergeant Aubrey McDade, Jr., USMC (Parris Island, South Carolina)
Staff Sergeant Aubrey McDade served in Iraq from March 2003 to October 2003. He returned for his second deployment from June 2004 through February 2005. While in Iraq, Staff Sergeant McDade was a Machine-Gun Squad Leader with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
At age 27, he is now a Mortar Section Leader with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division. For his heroic actions in Iraq, Staff Sergeant McDade was awarded the Navy Cross medal, the second highest medal to be awarded given for valor. Staff Sergeant McDade was a guest of Mrs. Bush at the 2007 State of the Union.
Sergeant First Class Mike McNaughton, USA (Denham Springs, Louisiana)
Sergeant First Class Mike McNaughton, USA, was stationed in Afghanistan and was working on a mine-clearing operation when he accidentally stepped on an undetected mine. Sergeant First Class McNaughton suffered amputations of his right leg above the knee and the third and fourth fingers of his right hand. The President met Sergeant First Class McNaughton in January 2003, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and the President ran with him on the South Lawn of the White House on April 14, 2004.
Bill and Janet Norwood, Parents of Sergeant Byron Norwood, USMC (Pflugerville, Texas)
Janet Norwood wrote a letter to President Bush in December 2004 expressing her support for our troops in Iraq. Her son was 25-year-old Sergeant Byron Norwood, who was killed in combat on November 13, 2004. Janet and Bill Norwood were special guests of Mrs. Bush at the 2005 State of the Union. The President also welcomed the Norwoods to the Oval Office for the signing of H.R. 1001, the Naming of the Sergeant Byron W. Norwood Post Office Building, in Pflugerville, Texas.
Agnes Nyamayarwo, Uganda Native, PEPFAR Recipient
Agnes Nyamayarwo is a Ugandan nurse, mother, and activist living with HIV/AIDS. She lost her husband and youngest child to AIDS in the 1990s, and another son ran away from home to escape the stigma associated with the disease. Agnes honors their memory through her work with The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) in Uganda, where she works with HIV/AIDS patients, orphans, and mothers.
She is a member of the TASO Board of Trustees, representing the views of people living with HIV/AIDS served by the 11 TASO service centers and 22 “mini TASO” public health units across Uganda. In July 2003, Agnes met President Bush at TASO’s Entebbe clinic, which is supported by the American people through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). She met the President again in July 2008, at the signing ceremony of H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008. # # #