By SOF Editor on Mon, 12/28/2009 - 10:21am
The Wounded Warrior Regiment recently sent approximately 7,000 Christmas ornaments to Marine veterans across the United States who received the Purple Heart following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“We wanted to ensure every Marine who has been wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan since 9/11 received a token of our gratitude,” said Capt. Lawrence Ribble, the assistant operations officer at the regiment headquarters in here.
The ornament resembles the Purple Heart medal itself, with the inscription “Etiam in Pugna” (Latin for “still in the fight”) on the front.
Gunnery Sgt. Luis A. Ramos, the operations chief at the WWR, was in charge of the ornament’s design, in addition to locating the funds to support the project.
“My role was to hunt down an ornament and a place that would make a unique design for us,” said Ramos.
ChemArt, a Washington-based company that produces Christmas ornaments for White House celebrations, was eventually chosen to make the ornament. Ramos worked with the company more than two months on the design before it went up the chain of command for approval.
“I was extremely satisfied with the end state of the design,” Ramos said. “It emphasizes our commitment to all the Purple Heart recipients out there. I don’t think any other branch of services recognizes their members in this way.”
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund agreed to take on the costs of purchasing 10,000 ornaments from ChemArt.
Former Marines were located using the Marine Corps Total Force Tracking System, and all the ornaments were mailed by Dec. 1, said Ribble.
Since then, the Wounded Warrior Regiment Call Center, located in Dumfries, has received calls full of gratitude from former and present Marines.
“They’re very grateful,” said Sharleen Anderson, a representative from the call center. “They’re happy to know they’re being thought of at this time.”
Jeffrey Ransbottom, a Marine veteran who received the Purple Heart after an incident in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2004 and was medically discharged in 2007, received one of the ornaments this month.
“It’s a beautiful ornament,” said Ransbottom. “I called to thank them after I got it. It’s a good reminder that people still care.”
If you know of any Marines, present or former, who have not received an ornament commemorating their service, contact 703-784-0577.