Two Missions Align Under the Banner of Veteran Families
Bob Ross called them “happy accidents.” It’s when a mistake turns into something good. This is exactly how I stumbled upon TD Foundation. Internet surfing for sponsors for our upcoming event, I found myself on their contact us page and called. In short, it was a “bingo” right away. The TD in TD Foundation answered the call, literally, and within minutes of mission-swapping, Tom Deierlein agreed to help the families on our waiting list.
TD Foundation Starts with Clothing for Kids
In early October 2005, digital media exec Tom Deierlein, a West Point graduate and former Army Airborne Ranger, returned from a typical business trip to find a Western Union telegram waiting on his door. After 12 years in the inactive reserves, the telegram informed him, he was being recalled to active duty military service. He had 30 days to report. This is where his story and the founding of TD Foundation really takes off. After 5 months of training and waiting at Ft Jackson and Ft Bragg Tom deployed to Baghdad. In an email back home, he was asked what he needed. Here was his answer as reported and written by Jack Myers:
I really don’t need anything personally right now. But, if you want to, please think of inner-city children and what they need. Specifically, I need things in bulk. Ones and twos are nice and still appreciated, of course, but I need bunches of stuff if I am going to set up a distribution and do anything meaningful.
A month later he wrote:
“I don’t know if we should have come here in the first place, I really don’t, but I do know we are here and more importantly, I know that I am here, so I am going to make a difference even if just a little bit at a time each and every day”.
In no time, they were receiving boxes by the ton and a new Humanitarian Aid effort was born – The Arch Angels of Alpha Company 414th Civil Affairs. At makeshift tables in their perimeter, they’d hand out children’s clothing, children’s vitamins, and more. Soccer balls, frisbees, boxes of crayons tennis balls – anything you can toss out of a moving vehicle, also went to the children of war. Without any fanfare or red tape, the Arch Angels gave out supplies where and when they saw the need.
And the Iraqi families were in great need and showed great thanks:
“There were hundreds of Iraqis there with their families. We pulled up and opened the trailer, and you would have thought we were giving out gold bars. Hundreds of them gathered around us to get whatever we had to offer. And they were grateful. I saw little kids holding stuffed animals bigger than they were. I saw families helping their children try on the new clothing and shoes.
A Sniper’s Bullet Hits the Accelerator for the TD Foundation
In September of 2006, during Operation Together Forward II, the attempt to re-secure Baghdad, Tom was shot and critically wounded by a sniper while he was out protecting local contractors who were attacked. Tom spent the next 8 months in the hospital at Walter Reed and Spinal Cord Polytrauma Unit at the Tampa VA; first recuperating and then learning to walk again.
Behind the scenes, the operation was gathering more and more steam. In 2008, they formalized into a 501(c)(3) and their military connections kept the donations flowing to Iraqi children. With the war expanding into Afghanistan, so did the TD Foundation. They expanded efforts to include They also added quite a few organizations to a growing network including Gift of Life Amman, Iraqi Children’s Project, Shriners Hospitals and Our Chance International.
A new front opened up that year as well. They conducted their first Heart Mission for 5 children organized by CINI and run by volunteer medical staff from Riley’s Children hospital. They flew into Amman Jordan and conducted surgeries around the clock for over a week straight.
Their story is still being written and now we are very proud to be a piece of it. Our thanks to the universe and a random mouse click that brought us together, and to Tom Deierlein for being one of our brightest Silver Linings.