In 2003, now-retired U.S. Army Sergeant Brian Fleming joined the Army straight out of high school, spurred to do so because of the events of September 11, 2001. He completed his basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia and was assigned to Korea before deploying to Afghanistan in 2006. There, he was severely injured in a roadside bombing that led to a much earlier retirement than he had planned.
Now the recipient of a Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Sgt. Fleming lives in Texas with his wife and two children. Today at the Mecum Auction in Houston, he will receive the keys and payment-free title to a Ford Escape via the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF). Meanwhile, crossing the block will be a wrapped and lifted 2018 GMC Sierra customized by four of his fellow combat-wounded veterans; proceeds from the Sierra and others help to purchase cars for others like Sgt. Fleming.
While in Afghanistan, Sgt. Fleming was inside a vehicle when a Taliban suicide bomber pulled alongside in a minivan. The bomb exploded three feet away from Sgt. Fleming, and he woke up on the side of the road two miles from Kandahar Airfield with second and third-degree burns. He spent 14 months at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, receiving a litany of burn treatments, undergoing reconstructive surgery, and completing rehab before he was discharged. He was medically retired from the Army on November 11, 2007, due to the extent of his cumulative physical and psychological injuries.
Through the Military Warriors Support Foundation, Sgt. Fleming applied for assistance to procure a vehicle for his family. The program awards vehicles to combat-wounded veterans and widowed Gold Star spouses; recipients must agree to provide insurance, and they receive one full year of family and financial mentoring through the foundation. Once they graduate from the 12-month program, the organization releases the lien on the vehicle and transfers the title to them.
In order to fund the program, the MWSF accepts donations of vehicles to sell, and the newest creation is a 2018 GMC Sierra SLT. Four veterans with some automotive experience were selected from the Skills4Life program, which helps veterans transition back to civilian life. Those men started with a pretty basic truck with a little over 19,000 miles on it and re-sculpted it into a very cool vehicle. Modifications include a 6.5-inch suspension lift, custom Black Rhino Armory wheels, Road Armor Stealth front bumper with an Intimidator Guard, light bar, five-ton Warn winch, heated seats (front and back), an upgraded Bose audio system, and a custom handgun safe. In total, MWSF estimates they put $20,000 or more into the Sierra in partnership with Keurig Dr Pepper in Dallas.
The truck will cross the block at about 1 p.m. CT today wrapped in green and sporting the “Hero 1” moniker on the side. I’m hoping Hero 1 raises a lot of money for this foundation that helps military veterans in so many ways.