Freedom Alliance and the US Tennis Association came together for the first time last week, treating four military families to a weekend in New York City where they enjoyed dinner, a Broadway show and a fully catered suite at Arthur Ashe Stadium to watch the US Open Tennis Championships. Navy Corpsman Jeremiah Harrold and his wife Carissa, who are expecting, traveled to New York City from Camp Lejeune’s Wounded Warrior Barracks. “Doc” Harrold has served in the Navy for 5 years and has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan where he survived nine IED explosions. He was originally wounded in 2006 in Iraq, and again in 2009 in Afghanistan. He suffered a tibia fracture with ligament and nerve damage from a rocket attack in Afghanistan.
In addition to dinner at Benjamin Steakhouse, where they dined on the finest cuts of steak and fresh seafood, Freedom Alliance treated Jeremiah and Carissa to the Broadway show Phantom of the Opera. The Harrold’s were extremely grateful for the opportunity because it provided a great way to celebrate Carissa’s birthday.
“We have just returned from the trip of our lifetime thanks to you, all who support you, and the US Tennis Association,” Carissa wrote on Freedom Alliance’s Facebook page. “New York and the US Open were amazing, and we can’t thank you enough for giving such an amazing opportunity to this military family.”
Also in attendance was Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Paul Novello, his wife Carolyn, his mother-in-law Gladys, along with his son PJ and daughter Gina. LTC Novello, of the New Jersey Air National Guard, is the Commander of the 108th Civil Engineer Squadron at McGuire Air Force Base. He recently returned from a 6-month tour in Iraq.
Staff Sergeant Shelo St. Pierre, a Marine recruiter from Jersey City, and his wife Kamarie were also guests of Freedom Alliance. SSgt. St. Pierre has served in the Marine Corps for 10 years and has deployed to Iraq.
Sergeant James King, USMC, and his family also joined the festivities coming from Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Sgt. King was injured in May, 2004 while on foot patrol in Ramadi, Iraq when a roadside bomb detonated resulting in the loss of four Marines and leaving others severely injured. Due to his injuries, Sgt. King lost his left leg. Sgt. King was joined by his wife Beth and son Hunter.
The second day of their Freedom Alliance vacation was spent right in front of the action — in a fully catered suite — at Arthur Ashe Stadium for the US Open. It was family day at the US Open and the children of Sgt King and LTC Novello played in the “Smash Zone” – a highly interactive, indoor facility loaded with tennis-related games for the fans.
View video of the families at the US Open here (Click on Day 2 Military Appreciation)
Troops were honored on the Jumbotron during the day to the enthusiastic applause of the crowd. “We’re playing tennis with the word ‘thank-you’” said Carissa Harrold. “Everybody here, back and forth, people thank us and him [her husband] and we’re thanking them. It’s amazing. It’s something we never would have gotten to do otherwise.”
After returning back to the Waldorf Astoria, Freedom Alliance treated the families to dinner on their own at any of the hotel’s unique restaurants. After such a full day, many of them simply wanted to relax and order room service. The Novello family attended the Broadway rendition of Disney’s The Lion King after dinner.
“These families served and made sacrifices for our country,” explained Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon. “The purpose of this heroes vacation is to honor that service and thank them for all they have been through.”
“Our hope is that Freedom Alliance was able to provide them with a memorable and meaningful weekend,” Kilgannon said. “They deserve it.”