Feb 27, 2011

Trooping For The Troops - Bay Pines VA Hospital

Trooping For The Troops is an event that honors veterans, to thank them for their service and sacrifices, and this is the third year the 501st Legion has done this event. The VA staff and patients look forward to it every year, and it is always a lot of fun, and rewarding as well.  This event was held at the Bay Pines VA in St. Petersburg during a VA barbecue dinner for vets. 

The VA always needs volunteers (I'm a licensed volunteer myself). If you are interested in donating your time or skills to the VA, you will find the payoff immensely rewarding and life changing. Click HERE to learn more.

(Note: signed releases have been obtained by the VA for all veterans and staff appearing in these pictures)

Click on each picture twice for a super-sized view

R2-D2 comes out of hibernation, and Imperial Stormtroopers take up position on the patio

 Below: members of the 501st and Rebel Legions emerge from the staging area

  Below Right: R2-D2 is such a flirt!


Below: this vet is a huge Star Wars fan, and has pictures and models of Star Wars and other comic book heroes in his hospital room. He had been waiting for us to come back to visit again.


RIGHT: This is Mr. Lindbloom, a decorated WW 2 veteran who has had an incredible life. During the war he flew B-17 bombers over Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. His plane was shot down, and he saved the lives of his plane crew by guiding his wounded plane away from a town, landing it in the countryside, thus allowing his crew to escape. Lindbloom was captured by the Nazis, however, and spent two years in a Nazi concentration camp as a POW, before the Alllies freed the camps.

After he was captured, a boy who watched the plane crash collected metal from the plane to keep as souvenirs, and years later, when Lindbloom visited Czechoslovakia to see the memorial erected in his honor, the boy (now a young man) gave Lindbloom a piece of the metal from the plane he was shot down in. It is mounted on a plaque beside his hospital bed, which also has models of B-17s hanging from the ceiling. Lindbloom won a Purple Heart and other medals for his distinguished service.

Not only that, but Lindbloom, after the war, suffered a stroke and lost the ability to speak complete sentences. Despite all that, he has an upbeat, positive attitude. You can see it in his smile and in his eyes. His wife visits him every single day at the VA. He also has a PH.D! This is truly an American hero and inspiration, and we were honored to see him yet again on this troop.


Below left: clowning around during a cool-down break


Above and Below left: This elderly veteran played the harmonica for us. He plays a lot better than me, that's for sure!

Below: After a rewarding and successful Trooping For The Troops, we went out to have lunch and celebrate another great troop. Being able to do these events makes life worth living.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Semper-Fi... I like this blog. very nice pictures. I also have a blog about Bay Pines VA hospital