Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Final Denali '09 Email
A final note from Lara:
This will be the last time you will open you inbox and see my Denali '09 emails, just waiting to be opened. A sad moment, i know but I hope there will be more emails to comprise and more memories to share with you all.
Let's do a quick recap, shall we?
June 4th: After a long a tedious day of walking in the Kahiltna glacier the group finally arrived at Base Camp at 10:30 PM. Dehydrated, hungry, wet and amazingly tired, the Team set up the tents under a misty veil of rain, then proceeded to melt some snow and a prepare (hardly) a healthy dinner consisting of cold tuna. The survivors of this long march went to bed, then they were tucked in bed by the strong and unforgiving harms of Morfeo.
June 5th: The team woke up to a foggy day with visibility no more than 100 to 200 feet, as expected, no planes will be landing today. Everybody spent the day in a semi-lethargy state of laziness. The highlight of the day was breakfast of turkey burgers cooked by Karim, yes you read correctly, Karim was cooking. I wonder if maybe this will inspire him to cook more meals when he gets home!... Not likely. During the rest of the day however, there were no change on the weather. So unfortunately to our climbers they would have to spend another day on the nonamusing base camp.
June 6th: Our team awoke to sunny skies and in record time everything was packed and ready to go. The first flight took Karim, Tim, John and Andrew, while Dan followed 45 min later in the last flight. by noon the team was in Talkeetna sorting and drying all the gear in the backyard of the hostel. Then the team spent the rest of the day taking much needed showers, eating burgers, calling families, eating ice cream, checking out whit the park services, eating pizza, and etc.
June 7th: The team woke up from a deep and renewing sleep, and took care of the first necessity of they day...eating breakfast (of course), after that they finished to packing and were picked up by the shuttle van that would take them to Anchorage. They made a stop in Wasilla, Alaska and met Ralph and his wife Susan, then continued directly to the airport to drop off Dan for his flight home, finally arriving at Anchorage's hostel where they will stay until their time of departure comes.
Basically everybody is packed and counting the hours for their respective flights.
I need to be honest and tell you that what I know about Tom Mahoilc and Tom Valentine is what my father has told us at home, so I asked Art and Will to send me some information about them. What they send me is very special and I want to share it with all of you.
"Thom Maholic! He was my best friend and could always count on him. I miss him every day and have no doubt that he would have been on that mountain as well carrying someone else's memory...
Thom Maholic was killed on 26 June 2006 in the Kadahar Providence of Afghanistan. He had risen to the rank of Master Sergeant and was the Team Sergeant for ODA 765, an elite Special Forces "Scuba Team" of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) when he was Killed In Action. Thom was so well liked in the Special Operations Community, the Firebase he had been operating out of at the time of his death was called Firebase Ghecko. It is now named Firebase Maholic.
Thom was an athlete by all means with a very competitive spirit but usually not with others but more competitive with himself. He liked to find "his limits" and push them a little further. Thom enjoyed climbing a small mountain within the Firebase Ghecko area. One day, it was discussed that the next morning, the entire team ODA 765 would climb up it together. To attempt to get one up on Thom, one of the team members decided to get up a little earlier and get climbing it solo before everyone else did it together. To his surprise, half way up, he was met by Thom, who was already on his way back down!!! He was awesome!
Thom was born in Bradford, PA in 1 February 1968. He was the son of the late William Maholic and Dorothy Maholic who survives and lives the spring and summer times in Bradford, PA and winters in Texas. She is a super woman and is very proud of all her children, especially of Thom and his achievements as a young man.
On December 27, 1993 in Bradford, PA, Thom married his high school sweatheart, Wendy. They lived together on Ft. Bragg along with their son, Andrew Gregory, who was born on 3 April 1996. Andrew is quite the athlete like his father and has recently taken a liking to any kind of hockey! (Karim and I are planning to take Andrew up to summit Mt. Rainier, which Thom did in 2001, so he can see what his father has seen from on high!)
Thom graduated Bradford Area High School in the class of 1986. He enlisted in the National Guard after high school and attended Basic combat training and advanced Individual training at Ft. Benning, GA. He later went on to active duty, serving in Panama. He attended the Special Forces Medical Sergeants course in 1993 and spent the remainder of his time in the Special Forces. Thom had graduated from Special Forces Scuba School, Airborne Jump Master's course, the Special Forces Search, Escape, Resist and Evade (SERE) course amongst other courses and certifications. He was an excellent person. A great Husband, father, son, brother and friend. He is deeply missed and very much remembered."
"Tommy V or "Val" for short was a Man full of life. He had a wife and two young children when he gave his life in a Parachute training accident in Yuma Az last year. He had just returned from his 3nd tour in OIF and had 5 previous tours in OEF. Needless to say he was a seasoned Combat Vet as a Senior Chief Petty Officer/ E-8. He had over 18 years of service in the Seal Teams. He was awarded the Silver star and 3 Bronze stars with Combat V for his actions in Combat thru the years. Many of the actions he was involved in where national headlines. He always had smile and something positive to say. He was a long time Skier and Mountaineer. He summit ed Denali in 2006 with other members of his Team. He was a great man and a true hero. Proud to call him a friend. He is with boys on the climb in spirit for sure."
Thank you both for your words. It really and truly means a lot to me to be able to share just a little of the lives with everyone reading these emails.
Also... For those of you who are interested in knowing a little about the writer behind these emails, I would hate to leave you wondering who i am. So without further ado....
My name is Lara Mella-Jansen and I have just been promoted to the 11th grade. The thrill that i receive from writing and expressing my own sense of inspiration through words, is what sometimes i do the least. I love reading the classics or pretty much any type of literature. I have yet to know what I would like to study and pursue for the rest of my life... but i am sure i will eventually find it. My favorite hobby is Tennis, it has been the only sport that i ever kept with, between Karate, Ballet, Volleyball, Track and even Triathlons (sorry dad), the only thing that i find totally stress ending is Tennis. I sadly have no brothers and sisters, but i don't mind it much... I really couldn't imagine having to share my amazing parents with anyone else. I am also the biggest animal lover you will ever meet :) I am actually terrible at writing about myself but I hope it wasn't too disappointing.
One thing though, is that i would like to Thank everyone who has helped me along with this experience and I hope you guys have enjoyed reading these emails. I would also like to Thank the team for all your bravery and all you willingness at making a difference, it has shown me that it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do it with all your heart and a little bit of courage, then anything I do can be something great. Thank you again. :)
"As he was drawing near—already on the way
down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude
of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God
with a loud voice for all the mighty works that
they had seen, saying, 'Blessed is the King
who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in
heaven and glory in the highest!'"
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Posted by USAF 7 Summits Challenge at 06:28