WW2 Vet Turns 100, Raises 40 Million and Debuts No. 1 Single

Captain Tom Moore
(Twitter/captaintommoore)

Few heroes of the young Corona era have captured a global audience quite like Captain Tom Moore. Captain Tom is a WWII veteran, and the former British Army officer made news for his astronomical fundraising efforts for COVID-19 relief and the National Health Service. He started out with modest goals for his fundraiser-walk; to raise $1,200. To date, he has raised nearly $40 million, making it the biggest fundraising walk in history (according to the Guinness Book of World Records).

And people from around the world, united by his message of hope, sacrifice, and togetherness have answered the call with more than dollars. Over the last few weeks, leading up to his 100th birthday, they’ve been sending Captain Tom birthday cards. A lot of them. At press time, he had received more than 125,000 from well-wishers around the globe. There were so many cards, it overwhelmed the local post office and his grandson’s school had to pitch in to help sort them all.

Captain Tom’s birthday is a big enough celebration to get even the most revered figures in the U.K. to send their thoughts.

It’s quite the life when flying fighter jets in World War II isn’t the most important thing you’ve done, but Captain Tom’s fundraising efforts have inspired people from every pocket of the globe. Of course, he’s revered nowhere like he is at home.

And you know your birthday is a big deal when not only do you get a card from the queen, a freaking flyover (!) but also your very own WWE championship belt.

Captain Tom’s birthday month has been full of magic, as he also became the oldest person to have a No. 1 hit single (those words barely make sense in that order, but these are the times we’re living in).

The more you read about Captain Tom, the harder it is to be unmoved. The way people have responded, with their own acts of fundraising, generosity, and positivity, is nothing short of breathtaking.

Happy Birthday to a true living legend and a hero for our times. Here’s to 100 more (you never know).

104-Yr-Old WW2 Veteran Becomes Oldest Person to Defeat COVID-19

Bill Lapschies Survices COVID-19
(YouTube/CBS News)

A World War II veteran in Oregon has done nothing but kick ass his entire life. The 104-year-old man has lived through the Spanish Flu of 1918, served in World War II, and now has become the oldest COVID-19 survivor on the planet. If you’re scoring at home, this makes him one of the only people who has beaten two global pandemics.

Bill Lapschies contracted the coronavirus at his nursing home in Oregon in early March. Naturally, his family was worried, as the disease has affected the elderly much more severely. But this was not his first rodeo, the man has lived through some world wars, a pandemic, and a Great Depression, so late last week, Bill was officially considered recovered.

Just a few days later, he turned 104. He told a local news station he is feeling ‘pretty good.’

Bill is officially the oldest survivor of COVID-19, eclipsing a 101-year-old woman in China and a 103-year-old woman in Iran.

His family honored him with a socially-distant birthday party. But really, this is just one more feather in his cap. The man beat the Nazis, of course he was gonna take down the coronavirus.

One of the comments on the YouTube clip of his story on CBS News sums him up the best: “Once a warrior, always a warrior. The highest respect to this man.”

Here at The Dad, we hope you, your families, and communities stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the latest information, please utilize online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.

Families Are Opening Their Homes to Foster Ailing Senior Veterans

Families Open Homes to Veterans
(YouTube/CBS This Morning)

Enlisting in the military is one of the truest sacrifices and one that few families fully understand. On top of that, outside of the requisite “Thank you for your service” and maybe the occasional seat-swap on a plane, support can be limited. So it’s always heartwarming when people make the extra effort.

One strong example is how some families are stepping up to help aging and ailing veterans. Tens of thousands of United States vets live in nursing homes, and thousands more are homeless, but now hundreds of families have started to open their homes to foster an elderly veteran.

The Medical Foster Home program pairs senior veterans who can’t live on their own with a family willing to take in and care for those who have served. The program is now in 44 states and foster families can take in up to three veterans to provide them a more comfortable place to receive care.

A spokesman for the program said it’s a long-term commitment and usually a permanent one for many families. They try to match veterans with homes in their hometown to keep things as familiar as possible, and currently, the program has more than 700 families involved.

One family told The Washington Post that it was an honor to have a veteran living under their roof. And the veteran said he loved his new family and wanted to ‘be with them till the day I die.’ The program is among the higher-rated ones in the VA and a spokesman told Southern Living magazine the vets and new caregivers become family and even go on vacations together.

“These people really are angels,” he said. “They’re doing such amazing things. Every vet deserves the right to live in a home and remain where they thrive.”

The slogan for the program is a fitting one: “Where our heroes meet angels.”

If you are interested in participating, you can contact your local VA.

104-Yr-Old WWII Veteran Gets More Than 70,000 Valentines

William White Gets 70k Valentine's Cards
(Fox61)

A World War Two veteran named William White is having the most memorable Valentine’s Day ever, one that’s been 104 years in the making. A fellow resident at his assisted living facility put together a social media campaign called, ‘Operation Valentine’ that quickly became a massive success. Even before the official holiday, he’d already received more than 70,000 Valentine’s Day cards.

Back in January, the 104-year-old Marine Corps veteran said he’d keep any Valentine’s Day card someone sent him. In fact, he said it would go on his keepsake shelf, alongside other markers of a life well-lived such as the Purple Heart he earned in the Battle of Iwo Jima. He’s a big scrapbooker, so he was interested in adding more things to his collection.

“I’ll save every one of them like I’ve been saving little things that have come up until right now and they’ll be a personal part of my history,” he told a local news outlet last month.

At least, that was the plan when he expected a couple of people to answer the call. Now that he has tens of thousands, he’ll have to reconsider.

White has received cards from every single U.S. state and from a number of countries around the world.

“It’s just too fantastic,” White said to Reuters, while surrounded by bricks of postal boxes filled with cards.

Many sent White cards as a way to honor their own relatives, now passed, who fought in World War Two. But overall, it’s been a cross-generational effort. White’s great-granddaughter even helped deliver a bundle, as her fourth-grade class all made Valentines for the elderly veteran.

While Operation Valentine has been a massive success, he’s going to have a pretty hard time topping it at 105.

Teen Raises Money to Buy “Daddy Dolls” for Kids of Deployed Soldiers

(ABC News)

Military kids are a resilient bunch. According to Dr. Michael Faran, psychiatrist, veteran, and chief of the Child, Adolescent and Family Behavioral Health Office, at least 30% of children with a deployed parent will face difficulties brought about by stress and anxiety.

Enter Jayden Kirkpatrick.

(ABC News)

Thirteen-year-old Jayden, the son of a Marine Corps veteran, wanted to help ease those all-too-familiar anxieties to the best of his abilities. And when he saw that Dyal Studios in Jacksonville, North Carolina was promoting something called the Daddy Doll Challenge, he knew just how to help.

(Dyal Studios)

Daddy Dolls are custom-made plush toys with photos of kids’ parents who are serving active duty in the military. Jayden has had one of his dad since he was 1.

(WCTI 12)

Jayden has taken it upon himself to raise money so more children can find comfort in a Hug-A-Hero Doll of their own. “This has given me emotional support,” Jayden says, proudly displaying his. “It helped me cope with the fact that my dad is a Marine and he was out a lot.”

(Stripes.com)

So far, Jayden has raised enough to send 95 kids their very own Daddy Doll. Along with each doll, Jayden will include a heartfelt and handwritten letter.

Tricia Dyal, the founder of Daddy Dolls, praised Jayden’s charitable efforts and has offered to match his fundraising.

Go Jayden!

Hundreds of Strangers Show up to Mourn Veteran With No Next of Kin

Hundreds attend veteran's funeral
(YouTube/WGN News)

John James Murphy often spoke of his time in the Air Force with the staff at River View Rehab in Elgin, Illinois. It was there that 71-year-old Murphy spent his final few years, recounting stories of his time in Vietnam where he was awarded several medals for his service.

Murphy mentioned a falling out with his family to one of the staff at River View, but didn’t like to discuss it at length. “I had to honor his wishes. He said he didn’t want to talk about it. I was OK with that,” recalled Pawn Thammarath, from River View. So when he passed back in December, there weren’t family members to notify, and worse, no one left to mourn a man who served his country with pride.

Thankfully, as is now typical of these situations, the internet and community members united to ensure that Murphy would have the ceremony he deserved. Local funeral home owner Dan Symonds, a veteran himself, made sure Murphy would be remembered for his service.

Symonds told the Daily Herald that ensuring veterans get the send-off they deserve often means doing whatever you can to make it happen, including searching for family and contacting Veteran affairs to ensure proper military burial. “Everybody deserves a decent burial and these guys, it doesn’t matter where they served, even if they didn’t see combat, they deserve to be honored.”

Symonds’ plea for attendees would not go unanswered. On Wednesday, almost 500 individuals were on-hand and waiting to pay their respects. From Veterans that came from miles away, to local police and firefighters who lined the streets, John James Murphy had a line that stretched around the building, all there to pay their respect to a man many had never met.

Hundreds attend vet's funeral
(Youtube/WGN News)

“The outcry of love and support have been overwhelming,” Symonds said. While he’s happy that so many showed up, it’s those who didn’t that has Symonds making one more request. “We want and hope and we pray that maybe, by some chance, his daughter or his grandchildren realize that he’s passed.” The funeral home is holding onto the flag awarded to family after the passing of a veteran with hopes to return it to them someday.

Man Turns Old Christmas Trees Into Canes for Fellow Disabled Veterans

Canes for Vets from Christmas Trees
(Facebook/Canes for Veterans)

Jamie Willis served in the US Army for nearly a decade before returning home disabled and unable to work.

Beyond his physical disability, Willis soon found he needed something to keep his mind busy. It’s an all-too-common for soldiers returning home, but thankfully, Willis found an incredible outlet.

The cane Willis was provided by Veteran Affairs lacked stability, something he soon found was a common complaint among other vets. He connected with a Florida based organization that provides handmade custom canes to veterans, but Willis wanted something else. He wanted to learn how to make the canes in order to help as many of his fellow brothers and sisters as possible.

Oscar Morris, lead of Free Canes For Veterans happily obliged. Morris initially formed the organization but says there are new 5 other branches across the country all run by vets. “One day, grab a cane and walk with it,” Morris said. “You will feel broken because others will see you as broken. We make our canes for veterans to look ‘cool’ while giving honor for their service.”

Willis did so well that he was tasked to run a Central Texas branch of the non-profit. In the last few years, Willis has crafted over 200 completely custom canes — an important gift for those who need them.

While the benefit to the recipients is obvious, Willis tells CNN it’s about much more. “I do this so I don’t sit home all day feeling sorry for myself,” he says, adding “This is all out of kindness. I do everything out of pocket and from donations.”

So working with a tight budget, the industrious new woodworker had a bright idea: Christmas trees.

He started seeking donations after Christmas, planning on turning donated fir trees into individual canes for as many people as possible. The community response was immediate with over 100 trees dropped off by families. Add to that nearly 400 trees shipped to Willis from Home Depot and it looks like the savvy soldier will be busy for some time to come.

While his labor is a major portion of the process, Willis and the organization are always seeking funds to cover the cost of shipping the canes to the vets who need them. There’s a GoFundMe page with further details.

With the enormous response, Willis now says he’s looking to provide canes for anyone locally who may need them, military or not.

Willis, Morris and the countless other veterans who continue to serve long after they’ve returned from active service are a testament to the strong bonds forged in the line of duty and the lessons they’ve learned both here at home and abroad.

We salute all veterans, their families and all those who give of themselves in order to make the lives of those around them better.

Santa Grants Boys’ Wish as Deployed Dad Jumps out of Present

Deployed Dad in Box
(Twitter/emurray1)

Few things online are as reliably heartwarming as viral videos of returning soldiers surprising their loved ones with their returns. It’s like a miniaturized “whodunit” for the internet, only you start out knowing the big twist, and relish in watching someone’s world get a lot brighter at the end.

And dang it, the genre keeps evolving. The latest to get attention was when two boys, aged 7 and 5, went to visit Santa at the mall. When he asked what they wanted, their response was to have their deployed dad home in time for Christmas. Of course, you know how this ends, or this story would never have been written. No sooner had the boys asked for their dad as their Christmas wish did Santa point them to an inconspicuously large gift near the tree. The dad was inside.

It’s a pretty epic way to return home after 8 months, especially when the crowd of onlookers applauds as he embraces his boys.

The dad called the moment ‘priceless’ and the boy told a local news station he knew Santa would deliver and called it the ‘best day ever.’

If that doesn’t fill you up on feel-good military homecomings, get 5 more here or watch the one where the returning dad dresses as the school mascot to surprise his kid.

NFL Star Gets to Take the Field With His Veteran Dad for #SaluteToService

Carlos Dunlap and Dad #SaluteToService
(Twitter/ElgazzarBLVD)

For one NFL star, the moment just before last Sunday’s game was one of the most memorable of his entire career. The Cincinnati Bengals were taking part in the NFL’s Salute to Service and each of the Bengals starters entered through the tunnel with a service member or veteran. For defensive end Carlos Dunlap, the moment was a little more personal, as the veteran he was paired with was his dad.

The two took the field before the tens of thousands (OK, it’s Cincinnati, so tens of hundreds) of roaring (present) fans, did a salute and embraced. Dunlap wrote on Instagram that the moment was one of his all-time Bengal moments.

“There is more to life than football. Today…experiencing this with my father who sacrificed, served, and did what he had to do to make the man you all know today…was surreal moment for me.”


Both of Dunlap’s parents served in the military and the star defensive end flies them to every game.

While it’s true the Cincinnati Bengals are not very good (OK, they may be the only winless team in the NFL), Dunlap is a two-time Pro Bowler and a two-time nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. And seeing the joy on the face of both Carlos Sr. and Carlos Jr. is definitely a special moment, regardless of wins and losses.

Hero Airman Saves Baby While on His Way to Receive Hero Award

Hero Airman Saves Baby
(Facebook/AFSOC Commander)

The men and women in the United States military are all heroes. And then there are people like Tech Sgt. Kenneth O’Brien, who raise the bar so high it’s hard to even see it anymore. The airman was recently recognized as one of the 2019 Outstanding Airmen of The Year after protecting the president during the historic North Korean summit. While in Korea, he also saved a civilian from a burning vehicle. He was part of the special forces that helped rescue the Thai soccer players trapped in a cave, and he saved the life of a Thai Navy SEAL.

This resume of straight-up hero badassery earned him an award. And while he was flying to receive the award, a baby on his flight lost consciousness due to a blocked airway. That baby picked the right flight to choke on, unknowingly flying with a bonafide hero.

“Our man OB leaps into action, clears the breathing passage, resuscitates the kid, hands him back to the parents, and then goes on about his business,” Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, head of Air Force Special Operations Command, wrote on Facebook.

“I’m thankful that the child is ok and that I was able to help when the family needed support,” said O’Brien. “I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he said.

I think it’s safe to say that after this many times, being “in the right place at the right time” is more than a coincidence.

5 Heartwarming Military Homecoming Videos to Make Your Eyeballs Sweat

5 Heartwarming Homecoming Videos
(The Dad)

Make sure you’re in the vicinity of someone chopping onions because you’re going to need a cry-alibi. That’s right, it’s time for 5 videos of men in uniform returning home to their loved ones.

1. Army Son Surprises Dad At Work

Watch this dad as he goes about his business, just having a regular day at work, until bam — a wild son in uniform appears, reporting for tear-jerking duty, SIR.

2. Military Dad Surprises Mom and Newborn Baby

A fresh-out-of-labor mom scrolls her phone — probably trying to stay connected with dad during this huge milestone — until she turns around to find him right next to her.

3. Military Dad Meets His Son For The First Time

Does it get any more tear-inducing than watching a dad meet his son for the first time? Watch this military dad enjoy three reunions back-to-back (spoiler alert: one is four-legged).

4. Marine Dad Surprises Daughter by Coming Home Gift-Wrapped In Box

You see the title — you’re already pulled in. You’re invested in the outcome. But then you notice the little dad-shaped pillow in her hand and crumble. And by the time you get to the part where he pops out and hugs his daughter? Well, you’re too far gone soldier. Take the day off to recover.

5. Heartwarming Military Homecomings

You know we love topping off our shiz with a good compilation. Get ready for 3 straight minutes of tears — and I’m saying back to back, to back, to BACK (that’s right, 4) heartfelt reunions in one video.

And if you’re a military dad, mom, son, or daughter, and feel like sharing your homecoming surprise with us, send it to us. We love a good reunion caught on video. Really clears out the ducts.

Need a palette cleanser that’ll have you laughing more than crying? Check out our previous list of videos featuring babies laughing at basically nothing.

Teenager Honors Fallen Army Dad With “Angel Pictures”

Julia with Captain Robert Yllescas
(Snapshots by Suz)

Senior photos often allow students to show off a bit of their personality, but instead of going the traditional route with a band instrument or sports jersey, one Nebraska teenager is using her photoshoot as an opportunity to honor her late father.

Aurora High School senior Julia Yllescas’s father died in 2008 due to injuries sustained from an IED during a combat tour in Afghanistan, and as his daughter’s senior photos approached, she found herself wishing her dad could be included.

So, Julia collaborated with her photographer to create something they’re calling “angel pictures,” and the results are truly something special.

(Snapshots by Suz)

“Why it has hit my heart so hard is that I almost felt when I saw those pictures that he truly was there,” said Yllescas.

The photos she received feature her interacting with a faint shadow of her father in uniform.

Army Captain Robert Yllescas was flown to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland after sustaining injuries overseas, but succumbed to those injuries a month later. He’s now buried in Osceola, Nebraska.

(Snapshots by Suz)

“I was teary-eyed when I was editing them,” said photographer, Susanne Beckmann of Snapshots by Suz. “All I could think in my head is I don’t ever want to have to do this for my own kids,”

Beckmann herself is an active-duty military wife, so the thought of giving someone a gift like this was a true honor. She was eager to provide an exceptional product that Yllescas will be able to cherish forever.

“Just to have that on my wall and be like, no, he is with me, even though I can’t physically see him,” said Yllescas.

(Snapshots by Suz)

 

Pilot Flies Dad’s Remains Home From Vietnam 52 Years After Seeing Him Off

Bryan Knight Flies Dads Remains Home
(YouTube/Southwest Airlines)

52 years ago, Air Force Col. Roy Knight Jr. left Dallas Love Field Airport to serve in Vietnam. His then five-year-old son Bryan was there to send him off with a wave. Tragically, Col. Knight’s plane was shot down later that year and it wasn’t until 52 years later that his body was recovered.

Then last week, the veteran’s body was brought back to the same airport in Dallas, finally returning from Vietnam. And the person flying home the soldier was none other than his son, now a pilot with Southwest Airlines.

The somber scene of Col. Knight’s return home went viral when a reporter who stumbled on the scene live-tweeted it. The fallen hero was given a proper welcome by both the staff at the airport and from the touching response of people in the airport. And it’s one of the greatest Twitter threads you’ll come across.

For Bryan, an Air Force veteran, bringing his dad’s body home after 52 years was a special moment.

“When I first got the call, it was almost surreal,” he said in a video produced by Southwest Airlines. “Wow, we’re gonna be able to bring him back, and have a place to honor him.”