Longport readies for Wounded Warrior Week

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LONGPORT – American Legion Post 469 has kicked-off its third annual Wounded Warrior Week campaign, which provides a one-week, all-expense-paid vacation at the Jersey Shore for a Wounded Warrior and immediate family members.

 Wounded Warrior, U.S. Navy Seal Lt. Andrew Dow, with his wife Marissa and daughters Kailea and Gia. Wounded Warrior, U.S. Navy Seal Lt. Andrew Dow, with his wife Marissa and daughters Kailea and Gia. In 2012, Post 469 hosted Army Sgt. Gabe Orozco and his wife from North Jersey. Last summer, it was Army Sgt. Adam Alexander and his wife from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This year, it’s U.S. Navy Seal Lt. Andrew Dow and his family from Hauppauge, N.Y.

“Each year, it gets a little better,” Post Cmdr. Larry Pacentrilli said. “We don’t pick the wounded warrior ourselves. The first two years, they were from the Army. This year, we asked the Navy to pick a candidate.”

Dow graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2007 where he was captain of the lacrosse team. He qualified as a Navy SEAL in 2009 and was deployed overseas three times with Seal Team Four – twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq. It was on his first deployment in 2010 to Afghanistan that Dow was injured.

On Sept. 21, 2010, he was on a helicopter approaching a mountaintop in Afghanistan along with 11 other Americans. As the helicopter came in for a landing, it lost power and crashed.

Dow was knocked unconscious for about 20 minutes. When he came to, he moved around the crash site providing aid to his fellow Seals. He was eventually evacuated to the U.S. where it was determined that Dow had sustained a mild brain injury, had a fractured C6 vertebrae, fractured patella, along with many scrapes and cuts. Perhaps the most devastating information he received, however, was learning that he was the only one of the 12 Americans on the helicopter to survive the crash.

Dow went through a long healing process and deployed twice more, once to Iraq and again to Afghanistan. Following his last deployment, it became clear that he was not completely healed from his earlier injuries, and he will be medically retired from the Navy.

But, before that happens, Dow and his family will be visiting the Jersey Shore for a full week Sept. 23-30. Joining him here will be his wife, Marissa, and his two daughters, Kailea, 9, and Gia, 2. Andrew also plans to bring along his service dog, a yellow Lab named Wallace.

Longport’s American Legion post is coordinating with other Legion and VFW posts to ensure that the week at the Jersey Shore for Dow and his family will be an experience they will never forget.

“While they are here, we want to treat them like kings and queens,” Pacentrilli said.

A local family has donated the use of their beautiful beach home.

“Our homeowner’s nephew is a Navy Seal, that’s how we found out about Lt. Dow,” Pacentrilli said.

Dow will take the ferry from Lewis, Del., arriving in Cape May, where a police motorcade will escort the family to Longport. The vacation includes stay in a beach-block home in Longport, a dinner and show at an Atlantic City casino, and dinner with a local family at Morton’s Steak House, Pacentrilli said.

A ceremony and reception honoring Dow will be held at Café Luciano at Seaview Harbor on Sunday, Sept. 28.

“This really makes us feel good,” Pacentrilli said. “Our average age is in the 80s. We used to travel up to Walter Reed Army Hospital to visit the Wounded Warriors there, but that got to be too much for our guys. That was when Donal Sheahan, who now chairs the Wounded Warrior Week Committee said, ‘Why not bring them to us.’”

The Legion sees the Wounded Warrior program as an opportunity for the entire shore community to show their support for the troops and appreciation of the sacrifices made by Dow and his family.

“The community has been very supportive and are glad we are able to do it,” Pacentrilli said. “It’s one of those things where you give the community the opportunity to participate, and they do.”

Legion Post 469 is now accepting contributions of cash or gifts of any kind that would help to make this year’s Wounded Warrior family feel truly welcome and appreciated.

Contributions may be sent to: American Legion Post 469, PO Box 441, Longport, NJ 08403, with a notion for Wounded Warrior on the check. For more information, contact American Legion Post 469 Cmdr. Larry Pacentrilli at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 609-487-7817.

 

 


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