Friends Of The Fallen

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Friends Of The Fallen

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Every time a soldier is killed overseas, his or her body is flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. When their families arrive in our area, they are greeted by members of the Liberty USO.

Photojournalist George Roach, who is also a veteran, had an opportunity to talk to two local women who provide comfort, care, and support to the troops and their families.

"It's not my son, it had to be a mistake," recalled Diane Hammond. "And they just stand out there like two wooden people."

Diane lost her son while he served in the military. She is a Gold Star mom. There was a community-based volunteer group to help her through the process. The group is called Friends of The Fallen, and they help families go to Dover Air Force Base to witness the "Dignified Transfer of their loved ones."

"Philadelphia International Airport is the closest airport to the Dover Mortuary," said Jen Hodur, the Support Manager for Friends of The Fallen. "Once the family is notified, they then pack their bags and get themselves to Philadelphia. We are there to meet them. We have 30 volunteers who are on call 24 hours."

"[Families] aren't let alone one moment to figure out what to do next," said Hammond.

In 2012, according to Hodur, 698 flights flew into Philadelphia that Liberty USO directly supported.

"It is an honor. It was an absolute honor," said Hodur, as she tears up. "I was asked to take this mission on, and I'm grateful every morning…"

Life can go on, Hammond said.

"I know with my son… he would've wanted me to keep going, to make myself useful, to live my life to the best that I can, and I do in his memory and his honor."

You can read more about Friends of the Fallen here:

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Phone: (352) 371-0051

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