HOW WE CAME TO BE
It’s a long story…But it’s a Good Story!!
It all began in 2013 from an article in a local Bigfork Montana newspaper. The story was about the father (Charles Woods) of slain U.S Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, moving to Bigfork. Tyrone Woods was one of two U.S. Navy SEALS who gave his life during the Terrorist attack in Benghazi Libya, on September 11th, 2012, along with U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and Information Officer Sean Smith.
Bill Thomas, a Firefighter/Paramedic in southern California and his family are frequent visitors to Bigfork and love the town. He had arranged for the local paper to be delivered to his home in California. So moved by what Tyrone Woods and the others went through in Benghazi, Bill called his close friend and Montana ranch owner Doug Averill, to discuss the article. Bill and Doug quickly decided that something should be done to honor all four Americans who lost their lives that day. They both agreed there was no better place than the patriotic town of Bigfork Montana. Especially now since Charles Woods had moved there.
In November of 2013 Bill flew out to Doug’s Flathead Lake Lodge Ranch, to begin the process of creating a monument. The basic concept was to find a large rock, one that was big enough so they could mount a Bronzed Eagle, with a six foot wing span on to this “yet to be discovered rock”!! Doug already had the Eagle, but he had hadn’t found the right spot for it. The search was on, as Bill and Doug spent hours, scouring the ranch property looking for just the right rock. At the end of cold, beautiful day of driving the backwoods and roads of Bigfork Montana, they found it. A rock large enough for the bronze Eagle and a natural flat front, that was perfect for mounting the soon to be made Bronzed Benghazi Memorial Plaque.
The stone was chained to a skip loader, for its 3 mile journey to Doug’s maintenance shop. There, Lodge manager (and Eagle mounting Wizard) Scott Plum, cored into the rock, inserted support rods and mounted the wingtip of the eagle to the top of the boulder, giving the appearance of an “Eagle touching down”. Once completed, the rock with Eagle attached, was slowly and carefully driven back to its idyllic resting spot, in the heart of an Elk preserve about a mile off Highway 35 in Bigfork Montana.
Our Foundation’s leadership is comprised of a governing Board of Directors and Officers. We volunteer our time and talents, bringing a diverse background of experience from different industries, encompassing both private and public sectors.
Our commitment to volunteerism, translates to “America at its Best”. This vision guides us in our dedication and efforts of operating a successful nonprofit organization. Team work is our priority and is essential to meeting our goal of “doing all that we can in serving those in need”. We are grateful for each donation received. Our board is committed to putting all donations to work in service to others.
TO HONOR THE FOUR
Once To Honor the Four was created, plans were put in place to hold a monument dedication and remembrance ceremony to honor the four Americans who lost their lives in defense of our freedoms. The monument was first viewed by the public on September 11th, 2014. Patriotic citizens of the Flathead Valley came out in numbers to pay tribute. Word began to spread! It wasn’t long before people began stopping by the Lodge, asking if they could visit the Monument site, while others began to write about it and post photographs on social media.
Perhaps the most distinguished of visitors, came to see it in November of 2014. While in Kalispell Montana, Mark Geist, John Tiegen and Chris Paronto, about whom the book “13 Hours” was written, and members of the Special Forces team who fought and survived the attack in Benghazi, came to the Lodge. Together with Doug they drove to the site to pay their respects.
It was estimated that close to three thousand people saw the monument in that first year. A significant number for a monument located on private property. Monument visitors included summer season Lodge guests, Military leaders who attended conferences at the Lodge, residents of the Flathead Valley and others groups like participants of the Spartan Relay Race, etc.
Since the first memorial service in 2014 the day of remembrance has been held as an annual event, with the number of attendees nearly doubling each year. We soon realized that we were reaching many folks who were as passionate about Benghazi 9/11 as we were.
We were determined we could do more. So on 9/11/15, in addition hosting the To Honor the Four memorial ceremony for the community, we also hosted a fundraising dinner for DeliverFund, an organization whose mission is to disrupt Human Trafficking on a global scale. The success of helping DeliverFund motivated us to help others. Following our ceremony on 9/11/2016 we supported Child Bridge of Montana, a group dedicated to finding permanent homes for children in Foster Care. Another success and a win for the children they serve.
WE FELT THERE WAS STILL MORE WE COULD DO
We envisioned a place that Montana Patriots could come each year on 9/11 to remember and pay tribute, not just to the victims of Benghazi, but for victims and heroes of September 11th, 2001 as well. We knew it was time to take the next step to create a 9/11 remembrance experience for the community. We officially formed an all-volunteer foundation, which is dedicated to memory of 9/11 and serving those in need. As we formed our Board of Directors and Officers, we all agreed no one would accept a salary. Instead we put the money raised to work to serve others That is our purpose.
Join us for our 2018 9-11 Event as we honor FIRST RESPONDERS in our community.
9*11 HONOR AND SERVE FOUNDATION
As we move forward, we will continue the annual tradition of hosting a meaningful 9/11 ceremonial tribute, always free of charge to the public, and sponsoring event fundraisers for a selected nonprofit Montana charities.
But we won’t stop there. We will seek to create other healing opportunities, taking advantage of the abundant resources available and in the form of partnerships with other likeminded charities and nonprofits. Our goal is to work to alongside these groups to provide them with resources and support.
The 9*11 Honor and Serve Foundation exists to provide service to others. With your support, and the dedication of our talented volunteers, we will always “Honor” all those impacted by 9/11 and “Serve” in their memory. We believe this is America at its Best!