RANCHO SANTA FE — Thirty-nine Wounded Warriors were recognized and each given a $5,000 check from the Good Guys at the 11th annual Good Guys of Morgan Run Fundraiser on May 1 at the club and resort.
“If I were not wearing sunglasses you would be able to see my true emotions,” said Sgt. Sol Martinez as he looked inside the envelope that contained a card of thanks and a check. The check is a thank you and comes with no strings attached. It can be used for any purpose desired by the recipient.
Getting special recognition this year was Sgt. Major Raymond Mackey, who sustained injures in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, while leading a patrol. He stepped on an explosive device and suffered injuries requiring the amputation of both legs above the knees, hearing loss of 90 percent in both ears and serious burns that require skin grafts. He is 46, married and has five children. Mackey is hospitalized at Bethesda Naval Medical Center and was not well enough to travel to receive his award in person.
It was a beautiful day for the event. In the morning club members hosted Marines for a golf game. Then in the afternoon, the luncheon and awards ceremony was held outside on the lawn in the presence of about 100 people.
The auction portion of the event, run by Good Guy Bert Poncher, invited lively bidding on items from expensive cigars, to art, to golf gear.
Noted Rancho Santa Fe artist Scott Jacobs donated several original paintings to the auction, which were quickly snapped up by art lovers.
Although he was outbid, Lance Cpl. Daniel Betts ended up with the bust of Chesty Puller, the most decorated Marine in history. The winning bidder handed it over to him as a gift.
“It’s amazing what they are doing,” Betts said as he held the bust. “I am going to put this in my bathroom and every day when I wake up
I will see it. It motivates me.”
The other Marines and Army personnel who were guests at the luncheon were gifted with sweatshirts and gift certificates from area restaurants.
“This is an awesome event,” Sgt. Major Derrick Christovale said. “This organization takes very good care of our Marines and sailors.” Christovale was on hand with Col. Anthony Ardovino to bestow a framed print of fighting warriors as a thank you to the Good Guys. They requested it be placed near the bar.
“The people are very nice and it is good to hear people appreciate what we do,” said Cpl. Justin Mansfield, who has served two tours in Iraq. Mansfield is married with a 5-year-old son. Wife Cindy is due to deliver another son about the middle of May.
Major Gary Ziegley of the Wounded Warrior Project was the featured speaker.
“Many Americans forget we are at war,” he said. “They are more interested in Britney Spears and ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”
Still, he said the warriors fight, are injured and many of them end up at Camp Pendleton learning to use prosthetic limbs. He said once they get the hang of the limbs, they show the same resolve they held in battle.
The Good Guys of Morgan Run is a small, low-key group that raises a large amount of money for Marines and especially for the wounded.
In the past five years, the approximately 70 members have raised more than $1 million, of which 100 percent goes to military personnel. This year so far, they have raised $363,000, said George Moulious, spokesman for the group.
It also has the Good Guy’s 24/7 Emergency Fund for a Marine in financial distress. His or her company commander can contact the Good Guys and with in 24 hours a grant of up to $500 will be made available.
More information is available by calling George Moulios at (760) 271-8741.