HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Six families received a special thank you in the islands for the sacrifice of their loved ones who died in the line of duty as U.S. Marine reconnaissance specialists.
Sixteen people were the honored guests at a week-long Hawaii retreat held by the Marine Reconnaissance Foundation. Among them were the parents of Marine Sgt. Mike Ferschke, who was killed while serving in Iraq in 2008.
"We're here today because of our son, because of what happened, and to join hearts and bond with other Gold Star families," Robin Ferschke said.
Gold Star families are those with loved ones killed while serving their country.
Dianne Homm's son, Caleb, died in 2013.
“He lived 26 years here on earth. But he lived his whole life giving to others,” she said. “He was my over-the-top generous son who would give away anything he had to help somebody.”
The foundation hosted the Gold Star families at the Paul Mitchell Estate in Kailua.
“The foundation supports our teammates and family members. It could be emergency support. It could be a Gold Star Retreat like this,” the foundation’s Jose Pep Tablada said.
Through fundraising and donations, the foundation provided seven days of R&R, sightseeing and special events, and time for families to talk about their Marine.
"I know that we're all proud of them, and proud of their legacy because it continues," Homm said.
Sgt. Mike Ferschke left behind a pregnant wife. He died before his son was born. His parents still grieve.
"Every day it's a struggle," said his father, Michael.
This was the foundation’s first Gold Star retreat in Hawaii. It won’t be the last.
“The Mitchell Estate has committed to do this year, so every year in May we’re going to bring six family members out here to show a little bit of aloha and our appreciation for their sacrifice for our nation,” Tablada said.