Sergeant Antonio Gardner of the 729th Quartermaster Composite Supply Company, Maryland National Guard, 2014-2021, was killed in a motorcycle accident on October 8.
Gardner was a petroleum supply specialist, deployed last year to Poland in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. His unit provided logistical support within the U.S. European Command area of operations. In January, he was activated to support the state of Maryland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and served on active orders until last month. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant. His fellow soldiers and leaders expressed their heartfelt sadness at the loss.
Gardner was awarded both the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal twice. He also received the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Overseas Service Ribbon for his nine-month deployment to Kuwait with the 29th Division Detachment.
LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dogs and their veteran handlers were asked to visit with the Maryland Army National Guard soldiers on Saturday, October 16. The soldiers spent this time together to remember and grieve the loss of their friend and fellow soldier, Sergeant Antonio Gardner.
The soldiers are experiencing Antonio’s loss deeply and are going through different emotions: shock, sadness, anger, and confusion. These brave men and women are trained to face many challenges and losses when deployed, but this loss was not one they expected.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9
Four LCC K-9 Ministry teams from New York, Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland traveled to Maryland Army National Guard to share the mercy, compassion, and presence of Jesus Christ with the soldiers after their devastating loss.
The team also brought a purple Hearts of Mercy & Compassion in honor of Sergeant Gardner for the soldiers to sign and share messages. Chaplain Woolsey will give the signed heart to Antonio Gardner’s family.
We pray for God’s courage, strength, and peace for these brave men and women as they continue to serve our country with the Maryland Army National Guard.
LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Honors Women Veterans at the First All-Female Veteran Honor Flight Chicago
On Wednesday, October 6, the LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry had the honor to be present at a historic event, greeting the veterans participating in the first All-Female Veteran Honor Flight Chicago departing from Chicago Midway International Airport in Illinois. Honor Flight Chicago partnered with Operation HerStory to fly 93 female veterans from 63 to 104 years old representing all branches of the military for a one-of-a-kind journey to Washington, D.C. for a day of honor and thanks. The women veterans on the flight served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam Wars. Slated for October 2020, the flight had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The all-female veteran flight was meant to shine the spotlight on the women who have given so much in times of war. Ginny Narset (MSgt, USAF, Retired), Chairperson and Founder of Operation HerStory, felt that the contributions and the sacrifice of women in the military are too often ignored or overlooked. This one-day trip gave the veterans the opportunity to visit the war memorials built in their honor, including the Women in Military Service For America Memorial and the Vietnam Women's Memorial.
The LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dogs and their veteran handlers have served at the Honor Flight Chicago since 2018. The Kare 9s have brought much-needed stress relief to the veterans as they prepare for their Honor Flight. Many of these men and women have never been on an airplane or haven't flown in many years. They are a bit apprehensive about what the day has in store for them. They all want to have an opportunity to pet the Kare 9s. Many share their war stories with the Kare 9 veteran handlers. Some become emotional as they relate their experiences in service to our nation. "The presence of the comfort dogs adds comfort and calm to the chaotic day. Many veterans say that it was the best part of their day," said Doug Meffley, Director of Communications, Honor Flight Chicago.
This year, the LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry had its own reason to celebrate. Attending the first All-Female Honor Flight Chicago was National Guardsman Brianna Neumeyer, LCC’s first young female active-duty veteran handler for LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dog Sage (Concordia University Wisconsin - Mequon, Wisconsin).
Brianna is 28-years-old and serves in the U.S. Army National Guard. She is majoring in physical therapy at Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW). Her work with the military led her to her major as she wants to help and work with veterans in their physical rehabilitation once she graduates.
“I’m hoping that when I graduate, I can use dogs to help with physical therapy for veterans. My goal throughout my career is to provide better access to vets and soldiers serving in the military and better promote injury prevention measures through physical therapy. I think using animals in that setting will greatly help stressed or frustrated soldiers stay optimistic and motivated to overcome whatever ailment they may have,“ shares Brianna.
She will be doing clinical and other visits with veterans and active-duty military due to her connections through CUW.
"I am excited to be part of the LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry and have been looking forward to attending the first All-Female Veteran Honor Flight Chicago. It was a wonderful opportunity for Kare 9 Sage and me to serve the brave women veterans, connect with them, and thank them for their service. It was great to see in person the women who helped to shape the role of females in the military. Being there and seeing how easily these women bonded with each other and me without ever meeting before proved there's more than just a brotherhood in the military. Having an event dedicated to women was great because, without them, we wouldn't have the female presence in the military like we do today," said Brianna.
Many veterans were looking forward to the camaraderie, meeting other female veterans, and forming new friendships. Before the flight, World War II veterans Josephine Bogdanich (104) and Betty Horseman got plenty of love and comfort from LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dog Nigel (LCC Staff).
Village of Lansing Mayor Patty Eidam smiled when she spotted LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dog Flex (LCC Squad). She recognized him from other veteran memorial events where the LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry was present and is a big supporter of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry.
The Operation HerStory heroes arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport to a water cannon salute. Among others, welcoming them at the terminal was LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dog Amos (Our Savior's Way - Ashburn, Virginia). He brought with him a “Thank You for Your Service” sign filled with messages written by Our Savior's Way congregation members.
Even though the Kare 9s and their veteran handlers come to bring comfort and compassion to the Honor Flight veterans, they are often the ones touched by the simple humility of these men and women.
LCC is honored to have played a small part in the first All-Female Veteran Honor Flight Chicago and show support to these inspiring women veterans. It was a privilege to honor them and to let them know that they haven't been forgotten. Thank you for your service!
The following LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dogs and their veteran handlers and/or ministry partners served at the first All-Female Veteran Honor Flight Chicago on October 6, 2021:
LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dog Amos (Our Savior's Way - Ashburn, Virginia) with U.S. Army Veteran Gary Cummings
LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dog Asher (Faith - Lake Forest, Illinois) with U.S. Army Veteran Bill Hume
LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dog Brutus (LCC Squad) with U.S. Navy Veteran Gene Weisbecker
LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dog Flex (LCC Squad) with U.S. Army Veteran Fred Vanstrom
LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dog Nigel (LCC Staff) with U.S. Army Veteran Jim Morrison
LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry Dog Sage (Concordia University Wisconsin - Mequon, Wisconsin) with U. S. Army National Guardsman Brianna Neumeyer
On Friday, October 8, the LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry was privileged to serve at the visitation for Scott Haugh in Freeport, Illinois. Scott served in the U.S. Army Field Artillery in Operation Desert Storm and the Gulf War. Scott and his wife, Louann Coates-Haugh, were longtime friends and supporters of the LCC Kare 9 Military Ministry. Scott will most certainly be missed by all who knew him.