Dinner with Wounded Warriors at Shelly’s in DC

| March 30 2013
Christopher Cook

Among the best things I did while as CPAC was head into DC and have dinner at Shelly’s restaurant and cigar bar with some of our wounded servicemen and a few of my favorite people in the world: Katie O’Malley, Frances Byrd, and Bev Perlson. Below is Frances’s post of Bev’s preamble to Pepper Ailor’s write-up of the evening. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought I would simply re-post their accounts. To their thoughts and accounts, I will simply add the following:

1. First and foremost, it was humbling to be with young men who had volunteered to defend our liberty, and who had been seriously wounded in that cause.

2. Shelly’s is one of the few places left in DC where you can smoke indoors. It is grandfathered, and as long as the establishment continues to sell a certain amount of tobacco each month, they are allowed to stay that way. The cigar and cigarette smoke was thick and, at times, somewhat choking. And yet I felt I was in the presence of people who were just a little bit freer because they were in this little corner of liberty—a place where people chose whether or not they were willing to dine at a smoking establishment, rather than having the state make those choices for them. Having to dry-clean my suit to get the smell out is a small price to pay.

3. If I had to mention one more thing, it would be the beef pepper turnovers. Yum! It’s on the apps menu, but it’s enough for a meal (even for me, and I can pack it in).

And now, to the post:

One of the great honors I had at CPAC this year was to have dinner with Bev and some of oar Wounded Warriors in DC. Below is the article she wrote about the evening:

The Band of Mothers attended CPAC this year and what we looked forward to most was the Friday evening event organized in conjunction with Col North’s organization, Freedom Alliance. The plan was to host several of our Wounded Warriors from Walter Reed and enable them a night out with truly appreciative Americans who love them for their courage and willingness to risk their lives to keep us safe.  We met at Shelly’s Back Room in DC and it was a wonderful night we won’t ever forget!  I think I speak for all of us who attended, there is no company we would rather be in than with the very brave Warriors who make our freedom and safety possible!

 To Jeremy, Sgt David, Sgt Robert C, Marine David C, I know I speak for all of us who participated in our get-together at Shelly’s, we can NEVER THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE TO KEEP US SAFE!  To be in your company is to be in the company of the most noble and courageous Americans among us! Thank you for honoring us with your presence and for allowing us to show our appreciation to you for your service and sacrifice!

I want to thank the great Patriots who joined The Band of Mothers and made this a most memorable evening for these Heroes:  Katie, Jeannie and James , Chad , Phil and Heather, Chris, Frances, Brian and Justin!  Thank you all for making this a wonderful evening!

Below is a great write-up of the evening by Pepper of Freedom Alliance with a link to photos included.  I really can’t thank him and Freedom Alliance enough for arranging this event and for all they do for our Troops.  Attached please find information on Freedom Alliance and please post and forward information about this wonderful organization!  When I was growing up, Col North’s name was honored in our home for the Hero that he was then and still is today!  Not many folks know all that he and his organization do for our Troops so please take the time to read the attached.  Consider a donation to Freedom Alliance for it is great Patriots like these that continue to honor our Troops and give back to them!

 I’ll never forget that Post Card I collected from Col North at my very first CPAC.   It read, “Dear Soldier, Soldier On!”  As we witnessed Friday night, that is what our Heroes do, no matter what obstacles are put in their path, they Soldier On!  We must follow their courageous example and Soldier On in our support of them and all they do to keep us safe and free!

May God Always Bless Our Heroes of The United States Military!
Beverly Perlson
The Band of Mothers
www.thebandofmothers.com

3/19/13
2013-03-15 Cigar Night in DC Summary

I met Beverly Perlson at CPAC in 2007.  I was approached by this fiery lady whose only wish was to get a postcard signed by Colonel North so she could ship it to her son, a soldier who was deployed to Iraq.  Since then, she has collected hundreds (if not thousands) of postcards from celebrities and the general public to send overseas in a show of support to our troops.  She has also compiled these postcards into several editions of books that not only show the gratitude for our troops, but shows the history of this war in a unique way.  Beverly and I have continued to see each other every year at CPAC.  This year, though, Beverly wanted to sponsor a dinner for a few troops from Walter Reed.  Tim was more than happy to coordinate with the troops and secure a reservation.

On Friday night, March 15, I picked up Marine Jeremy Lattimer at his home in Arlington and we cruised into the city for what would be an entertaining night of good food, great company, and fine cigars.  “Latz” as he is known to us, has been on multiple Freedom Alliance events and outings.  We have been supporting his recovery for over a year.  We were introduced to him through Doc Fowler, Col North’s corpsman from Vietnam who now runs a TBI clinic at Walter Reed.  Latz has several deployments under his belt, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and a Marine Expeditionary Unit.  He was exposed to multiple IED blasts that resulted in a brain injury.

Arriving in the dim, smoky atmosphere of Shelly’s Backroom, one of the few cigar bars in our nation’s capital, we found the reserved section for Freedom Alliance and waited for the rest of the group to show.  Shortly thereafter, we saw the “high and tight” haircuts of two Marines approaching us – two staff members of the detachment at Walter Reed.  In an effort to gauge their familiarity with Freedom Alliance, I asked if they ever heard of us.  “Oh yes, I see your name on events all the time,” replied GySgt David, “you all are taking some of our Marines to Costa Rica, right?”  Word gets around.  GySgt David Hendin not only is a staff member of the detachment, but was also wounded in Iraq.  The other Gunnery Sergeant, Gunny Robert Cruz, had arrived at Walter Reed merely three weeks ago to join the staff, and has one more year before retirement.

As we were getting to know each other, the kind-hearted and strongly devoted Beverly Perlson, along with a dozen or so of her friends, entered the area to fill the rest of the seats.  Among her guests were very patriotic folk that are staunch advocates of our military.  All were in DC for CPAC, but each admitted that this night was what they were truly looking forward to.  Several of Bev’s friends were veterans, including Chad, a veteran of the Iraq war who brightened to be in the company of fellow warriors.

As the night got started, Bev passed around fine Camacho and Pepin Garcia cigars for the troops to enjoy, selected by her husband Judd who is an expert connoisseur of all things tobacco.   At that moment, another guest arrived: Marine David Crouse, an Explosive Ordinance Disposal technician who lost a hand and an eye in a tragic training accident in Cambodia.  David and his friend Chris joined the banter.

Jeremy and Gunny David started swapping war stories.  I watched as they joked back and forth about Iraq, then Jeremy turned to me saying, “The Gunny was in the same unit as me, at the same time, in Iraq…2d Battalion, 2d Marines!”  David nodded, adding, “Small Corps.”   I spoke at length to the new addition to the detachment staff, Gunny Robert Cruz, who said working at Walter Reed has been one of the most inspiring jobs of his life.  “These guys come to me talking about their accomplishment of the day, with big grins, about how they just completed this activity or that – guys without legs, wheeling down the hallway with a smile. Their character trumps the struggle of everyday life.”

Around 10pm we called it a night, hugging Beverly and her crew and thanking them for a fun evening.  I feel that this will become a cherished annual tradition for Beverly and Freedom Alliance.

Pictures can be found on SmugMug: http://freedomalliance.smugmug.com/SupportOurTroopsProgram/2013/2013-03-15-Cigar-Night-in-DC/

____________________________
Mr. Pepper Ailor | Director of Programs
www.freedomalliance.org

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