Honoring fallen heroes
The “Dark Horse Battalion” was deployed in 2010 to an area of Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban. There they encountered more than 520 firefights and had more than 200 injured Marines – many of whom lost limbs. Twenty five Marines were killed in action.
Cpl. Derek Moe, son of General Mills project coordinator Kathy Sims, was part of Battalion 35 (“Dark Horse Battalion”) and his friend L.Cpl. Colton Rusk was killed in action on December 6, 2010.
“It’s difficult for the Marines and it’s also difficult for the families. The pain of those who lost their sons is unimaginable,” says Kathy. “When I came to work at General Mills, I found out I could make a custom Wheaties box.”
Kathy decided to create a box in honor of Colton Rusk and presented it to his grieving family.
“The thank you I received was so overwhelming and it made me see that this was a really thoughtful way to show families that I care and I’ll never forget their son. I met a couple of the Gold Star Families – families who’ve lost a loved one in a war – and I decided I’d make boxes for them also.”
Rusk was a dog handler in the Marines and his dog survived the incident that took Colton’s life. The dog pictured on the custom Wheaties box was retired and was adopted by the Rusk family. Sims found this photo a most appropriate tribute to the memory of Rusk.
Everyone can create a custom Wheaties box through the Wheaties shop online, but Sims has advice for those looking to honor military veterans.
* Remember that the gift is about honoring a family’s loss and paying respect to their loved one.
* Make sure the photo is appropriate and is high resolution.
* Keep the wording on the box respectful and appropriate.
* Give the gift in a private moment and respect whatever reaction you receive.
“It’s better to give than receive, and that’s the case here,” Kathy says. “I can’t thank these families enough for their sacrifice and I want to show them, in some way, the respect I have for them and their children. This is about them, it’s not about me. I didn’t want anyone to know I was doing this at first, it’s all about them.”
Kathy has now made 12 custom Wheaties boxes and has several more in the works – gifts that her son thinks are “pretty awesome.”
On this Veterans Day, General Mills thanks all veterans for their sacrifice and courage, and we thank Kathy Sims for honoring fallen champions.