Salute Your Troops Gala guests hear tales of bravery
A crowd that had doubled in attendance in just a year was on hand at the Omni William Penn on the evening of April 16, ready to raise a glass and salute some seriously amazing heroes during the third annual Salute Your Troops Gala.
“It's an honor to be here,” said Sgt. Todd Fritz.
Hosted by the Pittsburgh Social Exchange and benefiting the Wounded Warriors Project, the evening held special meaning for prez Ethan Nicholas, whose buddy, Sgt. Thomas Vandling of Bellevue, was killed by an IED while fighting in Iraq in 2007. “He inspired me to keep doing this every year,” Nicholas said.
More than 250 guests were privileged to hear firsthand the tales of bravery that were nothing short of awe-inspiring and, in some cases, unexpected.
“I went over there a hawk, which is what they used to call people gung-ho about the war, and I came home a well-armed dove,” said former Steelers linebacker Andy Russell, who was shot at by a sniper in Vietnam while on an NFL USO Tour in 1968 with five teammates.
Elsewhere, Sgt. Jeremy Jackson was humbly shrugging off a serious set of hardware adorning his chest, including a Purple Heart. Now medically retired from the Army after serving eight years, he survived being shot by a sniper while in Iraq. The bullet produced an exit wound the size of a softball.
“I miss it, the military life and the action,” Jackson said. “I can take a licking and keep on ticking.”
Among the VIPs were Stephanie Oliver (co-coordinator of the gala with Nicholas), Staff Sgt.Russell Haley, Congressman and U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tim Murphy, Mrs. PennsylvaniaMary Brennan, Miss Pennsylvania Annie Rosellini, U.S. Army Iraq War vet and professional welterweight boxer Sammy Vasquez Jr., Brian Tedeschi and Ben Del Prince.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.