Chili and Donger are two of the three founders of The Wingman Foundation (wingmanfoundation.org). TWF is a Marine and Navy Pilot run non-profit whose sole mission is post-mishap relief for those killed and injured in Naval Aviation mishaps. This includes aircrew, passengers, flight deck and squadron personnel, and JTACS. After a series of mishaps in the HMLA community and the first aviation loss in Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, Chili, Donger, and Bronco decided that passing the hat around the ready room just didn’t cut it or have any real longevity. We fill in the immediate gaps where DOD doesn’t move fast enough. Last summer a Camp Pendleton based Osprey crewman broke his back during a crash in Hawaii. The Skipper called us and we had his wife at his bedside within 24 hours. The bureaucracy just can’t really do that. We are also forming a veteran surviving spouses network to be on call to come in to help if requested by a recent surviving spouse. All immediate requests come through the squadron CO or OMBUDSMAN. Longer term, we preserve the memory of the fallen through erecting and maintaining memorials while also having hometown streets or other venues renamed in their honor.
A worthy cause, and one I urge you to consider. I grew up in a NavAir town, and it was hardly unusual for families to be shattered in an instant.