Gold Star Gala set for Sept. 12 in Dover

DOVER — Judy Campbell has been involved with Gold Star families since her brother was killed by a sniper in Vietnam in 1967 while dragging a wounded soldier to safety.

Ms. Campbell has since organized the Gold Star Gala, which is a dinner and program that honors families that have lost a loved one in military service.

The third annual event will be held Saturday, Sept. 12, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino.
Sept. 7 is the deadline to order tickets.

“It seems to get better every year,” Ms. Campbell said. “It gives us a chance to honor loved ones that lost their lives during combat. It gives us a chance to ensure that their memory is never forgotten.”

The gala, which will be hosted by Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 83, will also feature performances by the 40-member Delaware Military Academy.

Keynote speaker will be Purple Heart recipient Sgt. First Class (Ret.) Michael Schlitz, former U.S. Army Ranger and a Gary Sinise Foundation ambassador.

Mr. Schlitz, who served in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Baghdad, almost died in a roadside attack eight years ago.

He was burned beyond recognition, lost both hands and partial sight. Three soldiers in the vehicle with him were killed.

Today, Mr. Schlitz travels the country telling his story of service and survival.

“He’s incredible,” Ms. Campbell said. “Over 85 percent of his body was burned. He’s a double amputee, but he’s an inspiration to others.

“He makes sure that he continues to tell his story. He always honors the soldiers that lost their lives with him during the attack. He’s just a remarkable person.”

David Skocik, U.S. Air Force veteran and co-founder of the Delaware Veterans Coalition, said he looks forward to the event every year.

“It’s a very classy environment,” Mr. Skocik said. “I can’t think of a better event to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers.

I’m looking forward to the 40-member Delaware Military Academy Chorus, too.

“It will be really nice to see some fresh young faces up there.”

Ms. Campbell said the event isn’t a fundraiser as the money taken in offsets expenses and helps cover the cost of Gold Star Families dinners and presentations.

But Mr. Skocik believes she’s willing to reach into her personal assets to honor the families of the fallen.

“She won’t make any money from it,” Mr. Skocik said. “She’s very generous, that’s just the type of person she is.

She’s always been committed to honoring these family members and I admire her efforts.”

Tickets are $45 and can be ordered at www.DelawareVVA.com.

No tickets will be sold at the door.

For more information, call 302-593-5991, or email GoldStarGalaDE@gmail.com.

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