From left are Alspaugh's employees and veterans John Lumsden, Gordon Forrester and Don Howell; Rick Alspaugh; and Rick Schissler of America's Heroes First Foundation. Photo by Patsy Oliver
Alspaugh's Ace Hardware in Kingwood is something of a fixture in the community, and many know that owner Rick Alspaugh enjoys helping out whenever he can. What many don't know is that among the causes near to his heart are veterans. In fact, several veterans work at his Kingwood store.
On March 12, Alspaugh was presented with a framed sketch of three Marines by the organization Hope For The Warriors, for his store's contribution toward aiding veterans in need.
The sketch, which was first a photograph and has been sculpted into two statues, is called No Man Left Behind.
Crystal Thompson of Hope For The Warriors explained the history of the photograph.
On Nov. 13, 2004, during the Battle of Falujah, combat photographer Lucian Reed captured a photograph of three Marines exiting what they called the “Hell House.” Lance Corporals Christopher Marquez and Dane Schaffer are seen carrying 1st Sgt. Bradley Kasal to safety. Kasal had pushed through enemy fire to enter a building where his fellow Marines were under heavy fire and some were badly wounded. As a grenade went off, he was able to roll on top of one of them and shield him from the shrapnel. As a result, he was badly wounded and unable able to walk out of the building on his own. The two lance corporals rushed in after their first sergeant and walked him out to safety, leaving their own weapons behind so they could carry him out quickly. Several service members made the ultimate sacrifice during the battle.
Vietnam veteran John Phelps understands the power of the Marine Corps family all too well, as his own son, Pfc. Chance Phelps, was killed in action just a few months before as the convoy he was escorting came under heavy fire, also in Iraq. Phelps went on to construct two large monument statues, from the photograph, that grace the entrances at the Warrior Hope and Care Centers at both Camp Lejeune, NC, and Camp Pendelton, Calif.
At the presentation, Alspaugh was joined by three of his employees, each of whom is a veteran. John Lumsden spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy, and one year in Vietnam. Don Howell and Gordon Forrester both served in Vietnam in the U.S. Army. Each has their own story to tell about the experience, and each still shares in the camaraderie that comes with service. That's what led to their support, through payroll deductions, of America's Heroes First Foundation.
Those veterans, Rick Alspaugh and wife Dorothy Alspaugh, as well as numerous other employees at both his Kingwood store and the one in The Woodlands, combined with donations from two other companies, raised $36,000 for the America's Heroes First Foundation. That money was then given by grant to Hope For The Warriors, which directly benefits veterans in need, with no portion of the funds donated being used for administrative costs.
Representatives from both organizations presented Alspaugh and his team with the sketch.