Now, most of you are gonna know the story I begin telling here. Those of you new to the program will not. Let me give you a brief background on this.
The invasion of Iraq was in the spring of 2003. Sometime later that year — I forget exactly when; I think it was summertime — I arrived home, and there was a FedEx package that had been sent to the New York office that somebody there then forwarded down to me at my home here.
I opened it and I was in awe of what I found.
There was an American flag, a large American flag properly folded in a Ziploc bag. Accompanying the flag were five or six certificates, each certificate signed by a pilot, each certificate a picture of an American warplane. The flag had been flown on each those aircraft during the original invasion, the first bombing runs, in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The flag, unbeknownst to me, had been flown in my honor by a bunch of pilots who, also unbeknownst to me, were regular listeners and supporters of the program. The ringleader of this was Lieutenant Colonel Mark Hasara…
One of the children at the time was 15, Jeff Hasara. Prior to the family’s arrival at our home last December, Jeff was diagnosed with bone cancer, which is tragic in and of itself. He was a classic violinist; was interested in learning the piano; and a skateboard, a longboard aficionado. He went to MD Anderson in Houston for diagnosis. The doctors decided they had to amputate his left arm as the best course of action to get rid of the cancer. That was the best thing they could do.
So they did.
In 2003, Mark Hasara arranged for that beautiful flag to be flown in the original invasion of Iraq in my honor, and in all the thousands of pieces of mail we get here every day somehow that was found and forwarded on to me.
And then seven years later we have a chance to, in some really small way, return the favor by arranging for his son to be flown home to Utah for burial.