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The Mission of a Man Named QTim King Salem-News.com
For some, supporting the families of troops is a great notion. To others, like Q Madp of Portland, Oregon, it is a lifestyle.
(SALEM) - Q Madp is the only person I know or know of that has dedicated his life to preserving the integrity of those who have died fighting for their nation overseas.
This is a person who has wrapped his entire life around his efforts to preserve the legacies of people who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He doesn’t think their deaths should go unrecognized, and he is right.
Q is a photographer and he has his work cut out for him as the self-appointed unofficial photographer of NW military funerals. He travels to services and he is constantly on the move. When he isn’t driving or shooting pictures, Q spends his time researching combat statistics and adding names to the vast list that he hopes will eventually include every American lost in the combat theaters and every other allied soldier as well.
His Website is easy to remember, iraqwarheroes.org is a place of memories for thousands of families who have lost a loved one. Each time an Oregonian dies, and many from Washington and other states like Idaho and Northern California, Q jumps in his car and drives to the funeral/memorial service to take photographs for the family. He uses some photos for his Website, but only those that the family permits him to display. They are always very indebted to him.
The thing is, even tough veteran photographers who were present for huge international news events decades ago, still have a difficult time concealing their humanity.
I first met Q at the service for Navy SEAL Mark Lee in Hood River, Oregon. Sadly, this effort to memorialize a local hero involved a visit from a hate group that hails from Topeka, Kansas.
I found out just who Q Madp was that day as the protestors attempted to sing mockeries of national hymns and Q and the others supporting the family drowned them out while reciting the pledge of allegiance.
Our nation is at war and our brother and sister Americans are dying overseas. While many of us have strong feelings about the way all of this happened, that has little bearing on the day-to-day life that our military forces are enduring.
Americans are in so many ways... the same. We disagree sometimes to a fault, but when confronted with protestors who seek to intentionally disrespect a family as they bury an American warrior, everybody rallies together on the same team.
These Marines, soldiers, sailors and others who have died in combat were serving in the military because they made a choice to do so, and that aspect of humanity should be respected.
There is no good reason for ever holding the messenger accountable for bad news, and the instruments of our military are people who are following orders and doing what is asked of them. It stands in stark contrast to the activities and lifestyles of many of their contemporaries.
Q attended the recent service for PFC Dean Bright and as smoothly as things ran during this memorial service, he says it was one of the more stressful that he has attended.
A short time prior to this service, Q had attended the memorial for PFC Devon Gibbons, a young hero that suffered over 10 weeks with excessive burns and other wounds before dying at Brooke Army medical Center in Texas.
“As I was waiting for the Patriot Guard Riders to make their arrival, a couple came and introduced themselves to me. They are the parents of Pfc Devon Gibbons. They thanked me for the photos I did of their son's memorial and told me why they came down for this funeral.”
Q says PFC Dean Bright was one of 2 heroes that pulled their son Devon out of the wreckage of the vehicle that was blown on April 11th in Taji Iraq. Then Dean Bright was killed on October 4th, in the same place; Taji Iraq.
They had talked and written to Dean but had not had a chance to meet him in person.
M.J. Kesterson, the mom of fallen hero CWO Erik Kesterson was there also, along with others who always try to attend the solemn events and lend as much confort as possible to the grieving families.
In the High School, a young lady introduced herself to Q as the cousin of another hero, whose funeral he had attended, and she thanked him for being there.
The point is that the families of the fallen soldiers all know who Q is, yet he struggles hard to come up with the gasoline money to cruise from one funeral to the next. People and businesses of this state need to step forward and contribute to this one man cause that makes a bigger difference than anyone I know for the families that paid the ultimate price.
Q said that over 135 Patriot Guard Riders came to the High School to honor the Oregon hero named Dean Bright. "It makes me cry when I see them come in such force and everyone was watching them roll in, they held their hand over their hearts and looked on with amazement, with pride."
A few of the Patriot Guard Riders rode with the funeral procession to the cemetery and the rest came in force separately, the procession was over four miles long.
“One of the honor guard leaders came to me and handed me his card, stating that he has seen me at all the services they attended and asked for some pics.” At the end of the funeral service Q was approached by another woman, the mother of another fallen hero who made a statement about the pics he had given her: "I have received lots of photos from other people that came to my son’s funeral, but yours where the only ones that showed the emotions. " Q says in his world that was extremely rewarding.
“When I finally left and headed home, it all started to hit me like bricks and I couldn't even talk. I was drying my eyes constantly.”
Q Madp would never admit this about himself, but he is a hero too. I sure know some families that would tell you that is the case. Perhaps I relate to Q because I too believe in celebrating these fallen brothers, though my politics certainly try to jump in the way of any blind flag waving. I used to be a Marine and that certainly has something to do with it, but I believe our nation’s military is getting the short end of the stick.
This is measured in reduced services and inflated costs for veterans, and the equipment provided to our troops overseas is lacking. The administration make it illegal to send your kid body armor.
I have had to find my way through these feelings, groping in the absolute darkness much of the time. I hate knee jerk reactions and I hate people who breed fear, and I believe the administration blatantly disregarded the advice of the nation’s military leaders who said it would take far more soldiers to effectively win the war on terrorism.
The people who say you either support national policy or are against the troops, should be taken out back and re-educated. The time for that political game is behind us. Our military is strained and it needs our support. Other people need your support too, people like Q Madp. He has approached businesses very recently, and he is told time and time again that corporate America doesn’t support individuals, and while I am playing off the words, I see it as an unrelenting fact.
Q recently asked Chevron via email if they can donate some gas or credit his Chevron card for a small amount so he can pay the gasoline bills to make it to the funerals, “They said the same thing all other companies have told me. We don't help individuals.” Q included Chevron’s legal terminology.
"Because our guidelines restrict our contributions to nonprofit organizations, we do not provide product donations, fund individuals, travel expenses, or businesses. We hope you will continue your efforts - another corporation or foundation may find that your objectives closely parallel theirs. Further inquiry and research may bring the support you seek."
So people that really want to help American troops and the rising number of Gold Star families who now live without their sons should visit Q’s Website and send him a donation. It doesn’t matter if you send $10 or $20 because anything helps. There is only one person who is doing the traveling and handling the expenses to make sure people are treated with respect and above all, remembered.
In my upcoming trip to cover the war in Afghanistan, I have been asked by Q to find a liaison with both the British and Canadian commands so that he can more effectively add the names of allied troops from those countries and contact the families of fallen soldiers. I told him I would gladly accept the mission, and that is how he looks at his life, as a series of missions to help, respect and honor the legacies of our fallen soldiers. I am more fortunate even as I prepare to go to a war, as the military people I will spend my time around are alive and well.
Logic is the greased pig in our 21st Century barnyard, and the best attempts to see Americans succeed in both Iraq and Afghanistan will only come from stronger support, from the highest levels and from ourselves.
I think it takes a toll on my friend Q to do what he does, and people who mean what they say about supporting American troops should get behind his Website, please go there right now, iraqwarheroes.org/help
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
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