Operation Trade Days in Canton, TX, is the first operation my husband, Kelly Passmore, and I have deployed on with Team Rubicon. In February 2016, he retired from the military after 24 years of service with the United States Air Force. Our family’s transition from military to civilian life was challenging because we miss our military family terribly. Naturally, it felt great being surrounded by other veterans on this operation.
In Canton, we got the opportunity to serve a USAF Vietnam veteran who lost everything during the recent tornado. Behind his home was a workshop, which stored many family heirlooms and cherished keepsakes. The tornado picked up the workshop, foundation included, and flipped it leaving a four-inch concrete slab with rebar atop the shop, tools, and all his treasures. When our strike team arrived, the gentleman only had one request—he wanted us to retrieve his golf clubs.
Region VI volunteers jumped into action and spent the day slamming sledgehammers into concrete and rummaging through the rubble. We recovered tons of valuable items for the family, including his wife’s great grandmother’s wedding hat from the 1920’s, photos of her late mother, and a high school varsity letterman jacket that belonged to the wife’s brother who passed away two years ago.
The Vietnam veteran’s wife was the only granddaughter for five generations in her family, so she held many of her family’s heirlooms. She’d lost so many of these items during the storm that she expressed so much gratitude when our team was able to recover some of them.
The homeowner kept checking in and asking if we’d found his clubs. We couldn’t let him down. Through teamwork, perseverance, and a ton of backbreaking labor, we were able to finally reunite him with his treasured clubs.
After three days, we left the homeowner with his clubs in hand and a huge smile on his face. His contagious smile spread to my husband and I, having found our newest family in Team Rubicon.