By Karen McBride
The SEAL Legacy Foundation was established in 2011 after 25 United States Navy Seals were killed in a Chinook helicopter crash in Tangi Valley in the Wardak Province of Afghanistan. It was the largest loss of American lives in a single incident in the Afghanistan campaign, and a devastating loss for the families of these fallen heroes. The organization was founded by SEALs, is run by SEALs, and supports the brave men of the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams and their families.
The intent of SEAL Legacy Foundation is simple: “Honor the Brotherhood, Preserve the Legacy, and Ensure that NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND.” The foundation was created to help families of wounded and fallen U. S. Navy SEALs by providing guardian and mentorship programs as well as educational assistance for SEALs and their families.
The guardian program pairs individuals, organizations, and companies with families of SEALS killed in the line of duty. The guardians help to mentor the children of the fallen heroes as well as provide financial support to the family. The foundation has awarded approximately 2 million dollars in scholarships and grants.
The SEAL Legacy Mentor program gives SEALs the opportunity to bond with children by participating in activities, sports, and hobbies. This gives them the chance to teach the children things their fathers would have taught them. The foundation provides the financial support needed for the children to participate in activities, as well.
SEAL Legacy Foundation is based in Texas, but the organization is having an event in Tampa at the Westin Tampa Harbour Island Hotel on November 7, 2015. It is the SEAL Legacy Foundation Tampa Bay Book Festival and will include a book signing by some well-known authors from across the country and a VIP Author Reception. Proceeds will benefit the SEAL Legacy Foundation.
Authors include top-selling suspense writers as well as several retired SEALs who have published vetted and approved non-fiction books about their experiences. Some of the authors include Brian Andrews, author of “The Calypso Directive” and “Ring of Flowers”; Grant Blackwood, best-selling author of the Briggs Tanner series “The End of Enemies”, “The Wall of Night” and “An Echo of War”; Heather Graham, author of “When Next We Love”; Chuck Pfarrer, author of “Warrior Soul”; and Jeffrey Wilson, award winning author of “The Traiteur’s Ring”, “The Donors”, and “Fade to Black”.
Jeffrey Wilson was on Active Duty as a Naval Officer when he was recruited to join a Special Warfare Unit to provide training for the SEAL combat medics and to develop a direct support team to support SEAL operations downrange. He left active duty in late 2007, but continued to serve with Naval Special Warfare from his Navy reserve assignment to SEAL Team 18, a reserve unit providing support to active duty SEAL teams. When tragedy struck on that August day in 2011, Wilson and his wife, Wendy, lost several close friends.
A friend of Wilson’s, CDR (SEAL) Mark McGinnis, formed the SEAL Legacy Foundation shortly after this tragic event to provide support to the widows and nearly three dozen children left behind by the SEAL team members who died that day. This was an event that shook all of the SEAL community deeply and everyone wanted to help in any way they could.
The upcoming author event came about after Wilson and McGinnis talked about ideas to support the foundation.
“Mark and I spoke about a year and a half ago and tried to find a way to combine my new career as a novelist with my passion for the families impacted by losses in the SEAL community.” The pair appeared on a writer’s panel at Thrillerfest, run by International Thrillers Writers, and the idea for the Book Festival was born.
“What better group than the Thriller writers who develop stories of characters just like these real-life heroes and the SEALs who can benefit from such an event,” said Wilson.
For more information about SEAL Legacy and to purchase tickets, go to https://www.seallegacy.org/events/pages/bookfestival