Ranger Wilson Story

Ranger Wilson

“We are going to move 2000 pounds of food because we love our dependents A TON,” bellowed the stout young Marine Gunnery Sgt. Mark Daemon, as he addressed a crowd of more than 25 hikers prior to the commencement of a 7-mile trek through Balboa Park at 5 a.m. The day’s task, symbolic in nature, proved once again that San Diego’s active duty and veteran community could work cohesively when it came to taking care of their own.

The event’s aims were twofold, to seek sponsorship for each hiker to raise funds for the creation of a new scholarship for dependents of active duty military personal who are deployed at San Diego State University and to make the weight carried count. They chose to carry canned, non-perishable food to be donated to the Food Locker aboard MCAS Miramar, an organization that helps military families in need with food and household goods, which is run by the Navy and Marine Corps Wives Association.

Although the tuition hike began at what the average civilian would consider an “ungodly hour,” divine providence had the weather fair, cool and perfect for a burdened hike.

Legion of Valor recipient, retired Lt. Col. Thomas A. Richards USMC and San Diego State University Student Veteran Organization President Peter Salas took point for the column while retired Sgt. Maj. Bill Paxton USMC called cadence and acted as the unit’s platoon sergeant.

Daemon motivated the hikers and was true to his word. They started as a group, stay together through the 7 mile route and finished together. One of the hikers, who carried a POW/MIA flag, stated that he was there because we should “Never leave a fallen comrade” and that “providing scholarships for the dependents of active duty personal who are placing themselves in harms way to preserve our freedom should be a priority.”

Dependents with a spouse overseas routinely are keeping a household, taking care of their military partner, working a side job to earn a little extra income for their family… and if they are working on a degree at the same time, it can be a monumental challenge. The hikers that participated hope that through their efforts, those exceptional students will be given some encouragement and a little financial assistance.

Richards was presented with the Student Veteran Organization’s Mentor for Life Award by Salas and Daemon at the reception that followed the tuition hike 2009. He is the third recipient of the award and was completely surprised when the entire cadre surrounded him to present him with his award.

Any individuals or corporate entities that wish to contribute to this new scholarship or to support the Food Locker aboard MCAS Miramar can contact Mark Daemon at [email protected] for information.