Ride Report posted for Tim Rooney

Warriors’ Watch received a request from Larry Cooper to escort a wounded Marine to PHL. He was to leave Moss Rehab and return to his family home in upstate New York after rehabbing from injuries sustained when the vehicle he was in detonated an IED in Afghanistan. Larry works for the DOD and learned about SSGT John Stanz through a friend. He had gotten close to the family during SSGT Stanz time in Philadelphia at Moss and did whatever he could to help his family.

Larry filled out an escort request on our web site with a few sentences about the Marine in question, and a link to a newspaper article from the Marine’s home town http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/Local_Marine_suffers_severe_head_wounds_20090825   .

 Warriors’ Watch Rider’s rallied at 10:50 am at a local health food establishment (Dunkin Donut’s). It was decent weather for a December morning, a little damp, but mid 40’s temperature. We held our ride brief to make everyone aware of our mission (send our Marine home in style!), we went over the planned ride route, LEO support and safety precautions.

We arrived at Moss rehab a few minutes later. Security had set us up with the part of the parking lot reserved for valet parking and we were welcomed by Cheltenham Township PD and Philadelphia Traffic PD. They were excited about being there and eager to help!

Larry Cooper arrived and invited the ride coordinators up to SSGT Stanz’s room to meet him and his family. When we arrived at his room he was being given his discharge instructions. We watched as Doctor’s, Therapist’s and Nurses filed in and out of the room. It sounded jovial and as each of John’s caretakers’ left the room they did so with a smile and some with gifts from John and his family. When we entered SSGT Stanz’s room, we were greeted by him with a warm smile and a grin. Here was a man that had been through hell, serious head trauma and bodily injuries, still frail after four months of hospitalization with stays in Germany, Bethesda and Rehab at Moss and he didn’t miss one opportunity to crack a joke or give someone a smile! I gently mugged and hugged him, placing our Magic Coin in his palm and told him it was a token of Warriors’ Watch Rider’s appreciation for his sacrifice for Our Country.

We left his room and took the elevator downstairs. As we entered the lobby of the hospital with dozens of worker’s and visitor’s, everyone stood still and quiet, then broke out in applause as SSGT Stanz exited the hospital’s doors to be welcomed by our flag line and news media. John’s grin got a little bigger and brighter after seeing what was waiting for him! He was interviewed by the media and he didn’t hesitate to shake our hands and crack some jokes. He was ready to hop on a bike and lead the escort! Knowing his Doctor’s wouldn’t go for that, John was satisfied with waiving his hands in a circular motion in the air, signaling “Mount Up”!

We had been joined by three Philadelphia Highway Patrol Cars and two Highway Patrol Harley’s. We were escorted nonstop from Elkins Park through NE Philly onto I-95 and into PHL Airport surrounded by our PD escort. It was an amazing escort. Philadelphia PD were moved by our Hero and showed him a great tribute with this escort. It went so smoothly that I didn’t notice that one of our rider’s ran into a little problem while on I-95. Reliving the story of the tortoise and the hair, our Rabbit ran out of gas!

When we got to the airport we were greeted by Philly Airport Police and they wanted to meet our hero and thank him as well. We all got in another Thank You and mug & hug with SSGT Stanz, and he faced us all and said “If I’m a hero, then you are all a Hero’s Hero. Thank You for what you did for me.” Talk about sweaty eyes.

Showing his dedication to our mission, Rabbit caught up to us at the airport! Good dedication there Rabbit!

Three of the Airport PD Officer’s came over and picked up the family’s luggage and walked the family on to expedite their check in. Mr. Stanz came back outside while the Police were taking care of his family and expressed their deep gratitude for what we did for his son. While talking about his son, he told me that SSGT Stanz had just been awarded The Bronze Star! The Bronze Star is awarded for “Acts of Heroism and Meritorious Achievement”.  Two weeks prior to being injured a Marine turret gunner in SSGT Stanz unit was shot in the leg during a firefight. Without immediate First Aid he would have surely died from loss of blood. While under fire, SSGT Stand left the safety of cover and pulled the Marine out of the turret. He applied a tourniquet to the Marine’s leg, saving his life! 

This Marine is a true American Hero. Great character, humility, a great sense of humor, two time Purple Heart recipient and a Bronze Star. Thank You SSGT Stanz and to your family for your service and sacrifice for our country!
SSGT Stanz was welcomed upon his arrival at Buffalo airport by his family. The link below is from newspaper coverage of his arrival.