Because of the Brave

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Medal of Honor Monday: Master Sergeant Matthew O Wiliiams

Posted by hfalk on February 3, 2020 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

This weeks Medal of Honor Monday focuses on Master Sergeant Matthew O Williams. He was born in 1981 in Boerne Texas, and enlisted in 2005. Medal of Honor Recipient Matthew Williams served in Afghanistan where he was a weapons Sergeant. While fighting, he heard that the lead element had several casualties so he led a counterattack. Sergeant Williams continued to protect his position while giving the proper care to a soldier that was shot. He exposed himself to enemy fire countless times, and fought for several hours.

#MedalofHonorMonday #BecauseOfTheBrave

Medal of Honor Monday: Corporal Charles G Abrell

Posted by hfalk on January 19, 2020 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Welcome back!

Today’s blog post is focused on Medal of Honor Monday, where we focus on one Medal of Honor recipient every Monday. Today we are remembering Corporal Charles G Abrell. Medal of Honor recipient Charles Abrell was born in Indiana in 1931. He then chose to enlist in the Marine Corps at the young age of 17. Corporal Abrell was awarded with the Medal of Honor for his heroic sacrifices on June 10, 1951, while serving in the Korean war. He pulled the pin of a hand grenade which killed the enemy, and unfortunately the explosion killed him too. Corporal Charles Abrell is one of the many reasons why we are free today because of his bravery.


This is from President Harry S Truman's speech, while recognizing Corporal Charles Abrells actions

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Fire Team Leader in Company E, Second Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 10 June 1951. While advancing with his platoon in an attack against well-concealed and heavily-fortified enemy hill positions, Corporal Abrell voluntarily rushed forward through the assaulting squad which was pinned down by a hail of intense and accurate automatic-weapons fire from a hostile bunker situated on commanding ground. Although previously wounded by enemy hand-grenade fragments, he proceeded to carry out a bold, single-handed attack against the bunker, exhorting his comrades to follow him. Sustaining two additional wounds as he stormed toward the emplacement, he resolutely pulled the pin from a grenade clutched in his hand and hurled himself bodily into the bunker with the live missile still in his grasp. Fatally wounded in the resulting explosion which killed the entire enemy gun crew within the stronghold, Corporal Abrell, by his valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death, served to inspire all his comrades and contributed directly to the success of his platoon in attaining its objective. His superb courage and heroic initiative sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. (

[This citation was taken from]


Medal of Honor Recipient: Colonel Barney Barnum

Posted by hfalk on January 5, 2020 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)


[December 2016, Alexis Falk, Colonel Barney Barnum, Jack Falk, Hayley Falk and Andrew Falk]

In September of 2015 I had the honor of meeting Medal of Honor recipient Harvey C. "Barney" Barnum Jr in his hometown of Cheshire Connecticut, which is also mine. Colonel Barnum was born on July 21, 1940. Growing up in Cheshire attending Cheshire High School, class of '58. Colonel Barnum attended Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire and joined the Platoon Leaders program from 1958-1961.

Colonel Barnum attended basic training in Quantico Virginia and then served in the 1st Battalion in Okinawa, Japan. From then on, his military background expands to battalion liaison officer and being promoted to Lieutenant. In December of 1965 Colonel Barnum was sent to Vietnam as an artillery forward observer. During “Operation Harvest Moon" Lieutenant Barnum would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on December 18, 1965 — for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty".[2] The North Vietnamese launched a well planned attack, with the initial shots mortally wounding the Company Commander and Radio Operator. After the Company Commander died in his arms he assumed command. Even though they were under heavy attacks and outmanned 10-1, Lt Barnum lead his troops, exposing himself countless times while reorganizing for defense and eventually an offensive push that allowed for a successful evacuation, never leaving a man behind.[3]”


[Jeffrey Falk, Colonel Barney Barnum and Don Falk at the Medal of Honor Memorial Highway]

[December 2019, Jack Falk, Colonel Barnum and Hayley Falk]


The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.

[Pictures and caption provided by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society]


Now, in December of 2016 I had the honor of meeting Colonel Barnum again, along with his wife Martha, at his home in Virginia. He was kind enough to let my family and I hold the medal of honor he was awarded.


[Colonel Barney Barnum’s Medal of Honor]

This was a once in a lifetime experience that most people will never get to do, something that I will treasure for the rest of my life, and part of what inspired me for Because of the Brave. I feel so blessed that for the past 5 years Colonel Barnum and Martha have opened their house to us when we travel for Wreaths Across America. It is a learning experience each time, as he always has so much to share. This past year I spent time in conversation with Martha who is one of the strongest and intelligent women I have ever met. Colonel Barnum is a man who inspires me to do more, and to be more. Below I will share the citation that goes more in depth about his story.



This is his citation from the Congressional Medal of Honor society website



For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. When the company was suddenly pinned down by a hail of extremely accurate enemy fire and was quickly separated from the remainder of the battalion by over 500 meters of open and fire-swept ground, and casualties mounted rapidly. Lt. Barnum quickly made a hazardous reconnaissance of the area, seeking targets for his artillery. Finding the rifle company commander mortally wounded and the radio operator killed, he, with complete disregard for his safety, gave aid to the dying commander, then removed the radio from the dead operator and strapped it to himself. He immediately assumed command of the rifle company, and moving at once into the midst of the heavy fire, rallying and giving encouragement to all units, reorganized them to replace the loss of key personnel and led their attack on enemy positions from which deadly fire continued to come. His sound and swift decisions and his obvious calm served to stabilize the badly decimated units and his gallant example as he stood exposed repeatedly to point out targets served as an inspiration to all. Provided with 2 armed helicopters, he moved fearlessly through enemy fire to control the air attack against the firmly entrenched enemy while skillfully directing 1 platoon in a successful counterattack on the key enemy positions. Having thus cleared a small area, he requested and directed the landing of 2 transport helicopters for the evacuation of the dead and wounded. He then assisted in the mopping up and final seizure of the battalion's objective. His gallant initiative and heroic conduct reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.




Thank A Veteran

Posted by hfalk on January 3, 2020 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

A couple of months ago I discovered the page called “Thank A Veteran” and the name immediately drew me in. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to learn more about what this page was about. Being new to the blogging community, I decided to introduce my page to Heather {who runs Thank A Veteran.} Her mission inspired me, and I knew she was someone that I wanted to work with. Currently, I am collecting letters and cards to deliver to the local VA hospital and VFW. I encourage you to participate in this, as it is for a great cause. If you are interested, please message me or email me at bcofthebrave1@gmail. If you're not local tp CT, don't worry! You can email me your letter and I would be more than happy to print it out. I am trying to expand the Thank A Veteran project to Connecticut, and with your help we can all make this work!


                    A little bit about Heather and her mission



Heather is from Minnesota and currently a Junior at the University of Chicago. The last 11 years she has handmade Thank you cards for every resident of the Fergus Falls Veterans home. She has also had her whole Elementary school & High School involved in making cards, letters & posters and she sends e-mails asking for Thank yous to everyone she can think of. She has received Thousands of emails from all 50 states,China,Germany,Canada, Holland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates & Japan. She has distributed over 70,000 messages so far! She wants her project to grow more every year & has lots more ideas for expansion of the project. She has been blessed to expand her project to the Chicago area public schools, her college campus & Chicago Veteran homes and has worked with multiple Chicago Veterans Stand Downs. Heather also makes quilts for Quilts of Valor & works with Project New Hope & sends cards through the "Holiday Mail for Heroes" Program & sends care packages to soldiers as well as collecting Veteran stories for the Library of Congress.




APK Charities

Posted by hfalk on January 3, 2020 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Reflecting on this year I am forever thankful to everyone who has served to protect our freedom and way of life. In 2017 at VetsRock, my father, Jeffrey Falk, introduced me to Bob Keiser and a few months later I met Helen Keiser-Pedersen. I took to heart the story of their son, Capt. Andrew Pedersen-Keel US Army, and how on March 11, 2013, he made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Afghanistan. There are no words to describe how honored I was when Bob and Helen asked me to lay a wreath on Andrew's grave as part of Wreaths Across America a few weeks ago. Bob and Helen are part of my inspiration to honor those who served. Please take a few minutes to watch this video and support APK Charities. #Becauseofthebrave #apkcharities

Helen Pedersen-Keiser and Bob Keiser talk about the death of their son, Special Forces Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel and how his death in Iraq lead them to st...


2019 Wreaths Across America Trip

Posted by hfalk on December 26, 2019 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Wreaths Across America 2019

Just over a week ago my family made our way down to Washington DC for our annual Wreaths Across America trip. If you don't know what Wreaths Across America is, it's an event held at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington Virginia that organizes the placement of wreaths on Veteran’s graves. On Saturday December 14, we had arrived at Arlington cemetery a little before 7 am, and were able to watch the trucks that transport the wreaths come in. Although the gates did not open until 8, the entrance was already filled with hundreds of people. Each year there are thousands of volunteers to help lay the wreaths on America’s heroes graves. Wreaths Across America’s mission is to remember, honor and teach, and their mission statement has an effect on all of the volunteers that participate each year.


For the second time, I had the honor of placing a wreath on Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel’s marker. Andrew was stationed in Afghanistan when he lost his life on March 11, 2013. His family started an organization in his honor, called APK Charities. Their mission statement is “APK Charities was created to help us properly honor and remember the life, bravery, and humanitarian spirit of our son, Captain Andrew M. Pedersen-Keel. The past fifteen years of war have caused America’s military and their families to make enormous sacrifices. We seek to raise awareness and support for our active, retired, wounded and fallen warriors and their families and to provide financial aid and material assistance to charitable organizations and causes. APK Charities mission is to serve as a bridge connecting our society and our Armed Forces, opening our hearts and minds to serve those who protect us.” To learn more about Captain Andrew Pedersen Keel and APK charities you can check out their website here

If you would like to learn more about Wreaths Across America, you can check out their website, which will be linked below.

Additionally, I am so honored to be able to attend this event every year, as it truly makes a difference. The next WAA date is December 19, 2020, if you are interested in learning more about attending this event next year, please message me!


Wreaths Across America

Posted by hfalk on December 12, 2019 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (0)

As I come close to my 7th year volunteering for Wreaths Across America, I would like to reflect on how this organization has greatly impacted me. First, I would like to thank my dad (@jeffreyfalk) for introducing me to this special volunteer opportunity. If it wasn't for him, we would have never had this tradition. Now, let's get started! Wreaths Across America is an organization where volunteers honor American heroes by laying wreaths on their graves. WAA has over 1000 locations nationwide that participate every December in the wreath laying. Although this will be my seventh year participating, I look forward to our trip to Washington every year. Each year is almost never the same, and is always memorable in several ways. One highlight is that each year we are greeted by more and more trucks, which means more wreaths to lay! Although there is one thing that stays the same, their mission statement remember, honor and teach, which is consistent from the beginning. It's amazing to think that everyone is there for the same reason(s), to remember our fallen, honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and teach the younger generation how important our current and former service members are. The role that they play is unbelievable, and with over 60,000 volunteers, it's clear that they are making a difference. Each year the volunteer rate grows larger and larger, and last year was one of the largest turnouts [from what I could notice.] Even though it was raining last year, that did not turn volunteers away [which it shouldn't, for all that the soldiers laid to rest sacrificed, walking in the rain for a few hours to honor them is the least we can do.] As I have watched Wreaths Across America grow these past 6 years, I am even more excited to see what the future holds for them. If you would like to donate to WAA, and their mission, I will leave the link below. Many thanks to the organizers of Wreaths Across America for helping Americans remember, honor and teach.



Welcome to Because of the Brave!

Posted by hfalk on December 12, 2019 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Hi everyone!

My name is Hayley, and I am so happy to finally publish my page, Because of the Brave. For the past 7 years, I have volunteered with events that honor former and current service members. Through my years of volunteering, I have been able to witness first hand the right way to honor service members. In April I had what started off as an idea to blog, that soon became hours of creating a website and Facebook page. Although its 7 months later, I can finally say that Because of the Brave is now live! On this page, I will be writing a monthly blog post, fundraising, sharing volunteer opportunities and much more. Here at Because of the Brave, I am driven by a single goal; to honor our current and former service members. I strive to build productive relationships and make a positive impact with all of my pursuits. Thank you for reading, and I am happy to start this journey of honoring our service members.