The Eight-Eighties are eight senior citizens - all over eighty years old.
Each has served in the military during wartime. Two served in the Marine Corps. One Air Force Bombardier flew in raids over Guam and Japan during WWII. One 82nd Airborne Paratrooper and One Army Strong fought with General Patton in Italy during the Big War. The other three Army Strong all served during the War in Korea.
Back Row: John Hood, Fred Hunneke, Guy Skinner
Front Row: Bill Whittington, Chester Stocks, Buddy Rich, June Rose, Bob Paul
The youngest of this band of eight is eighty-two; the oldest - who is still flying our plane - is ninety-three. The Eight are different sizes, different shapes and different colors. They are different denominations, yet they share a common belief in the God that created them, and in the Command that we love one another.
With veterans of World War II and Korea dying at the rate of 1,000-plus per day, the Eight-Eighties believe that God has not left them here just to take up space while they wait to die.“He would like us to do Something for Someone.”
Today, the Team which first assembled on August 14, 2010, the sixty-fifth anniversary of Japan surrendering during World War II, has two main goals.
Goal One is to help create jobs in America. Goal Two is to minister to some of the Nation's youngest Wounded Warriors—those who are now returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The first goal has been achieved by creating what is now known as a "C-Shirt." One of the Eight-Eighties co-authored a patent on a fabric construction which was used by NASA in its NEEMO Six project. That "Wick A’ Way®" fabric for the C-Shirt garments is now produced by Domestic Fabrics & Blankets in Kinston, NC. The yarn to produce the fabric comes from two spinning mills in Gastonia, NC. The garments made from the Wick A’Way® fabric are cut and sewn in Vanceboro, NC, and the garments are embellished at the Lions Industries for the Blind in Kinston, North Carolina.
The Eight-Eighties do not own any of the equipment used to produce the C-Shirt. The Eight-Eighties exist to bring additional work to the businesses that do the manufacturing, thus helping to create jobs and a product that can proudly carry a “Made In America” label.
Once the C-Shirts have been manufactured, they are sold to an assortment of outlets such as the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Navy War College in Newport, Rhode Island. For every garment sold, one is set aside for distribution to the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC, or to the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, NC.
On New Year's Eve, one of the Eight-Eighties delivered 120 Wick A’ Way® Wounded Warrior Team garments to Camp Lejeune. Donation of the garments was sponsored by the Minges Pepsi Bottling Group. A week later, 50 units sponsored by the Branch Bank & Trust Company were delivered to the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
During February, the Eight-Eighties Wounded Warrior Team sponsored 18 box seats at Grainger Stadium for the "Freedom Classic" college baseball tournament, which featured the Naval Academy from Annapolis playing against the Air Force Academy from Colorado. Groups from the Marine Base attended each game, and at each game a Wounded Warrior threw out the opening pitch. The Eight-Eighties have reserved additional seating in Grainger Stadium with the Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Department for the Freedom Classic. The Eight-Eighties have received many notes of appreciation from the Commanding Officer at the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East at Camp Lejeune.
"The men of the Eight-Eighties are grateful for the opportunities we have had to create jobs and share with the young men and women who are defending our nation. We appreciate the interest and support we have received and continue to receive from all who share our desire to serve."
If you would like to support the efforts of the Eight-Eighties by joining their Wounded Warrior Team, you can purchase a C-Shirt, and for every shirt purchased one will be delivered to a Wounded Warrior at one of the local military bases. Each time a shirt is purchased, it helps to create a job in America. Each time a shirt is delivered to a Wounded Warrior, the purchaser is saying "thank you for your service."
Special thanks to Issac Hines for the group photo of the Eight-Eighties, and to Jennifer Johnson for additional photography.