Band of brothers

Veterans organize benefit to fund an Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial.

Saluting our vets: A beef-and-beer will be held on Saturday. Proceeds will go toward the construction of a memorial to honor soldiers from Pennsylvania killed in the Global War on Terrorism since 2001, including (from left) Mark Phelan, Gennaro Pellegrini and Michael Strange. Source: Tim Wynn & Metro Images

The public is invited to attend a beef-and-beer benefit that will raise money for a planned Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial.

The benefit is set for Saturday, March 31, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory, 2700 Southampton Road.

“It will not happen without the support of the community,” said Tim Wynn, a member of the board looking to build the memorial.

Tickets cost $35. The evening will include raffles, baskets and music. An autographed Jason Kelce football will be among the auction items.

Proceeds will go toward the construction of a memorial to honor the 288 men and women from Pennsylvania killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the Global War on Terrorism since 2001.

“We’d like to get 75 grand out of this event, as long as the community comes out,” Wynn said.

The memorial site will be in the waterfront area of Penn’s Landing, just yards away from the Korean and Vietnam war memorials.

Wynn explained that $250,000 is needed to build the memorial. The board has raised $50,000 so far.

Money is being raised through grassroots efforts, but the board is also hopeful of receiving one or two big donations.

The building trades have agreed to build the memorial for free, with the board needing only to buy materials. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542, District Council 21 Painters and Allied Trades and Teamsters Local 107 have made the successful outreach to fellow unions.

The Philadelphia Blue Flame, a football team made up of police officers and firefighters, has also been a big help. Joe Hansbury, vice president of the football club and 8th Police District community relations officer, is handling catering for the beer and beer.

State Sen. John Sabatina Jr. arranged for use of the Armory.

Other guidance and support have come from the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Society and Warriors Watch Riders.

Wynn, a Mayfair native who lives in Bustleton, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999 to 2003. He participated in the invasion of Iraq.

Today, Wynn is the mentor coordinator for Philadelphia Veterans Court, which is headed by Municipal Court Judge Pat Dugan, who is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dugan is an adviser to the war memorial board.

Wynn said the memorial will be a wall, like other war memorials in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. A designer has not yet been hired. Families of the fallen heroes will have a say in the design.

One option, Wynn said, is to include a piece of steel from the Twin Towers. The memorial could also be built like a T-wall, a concrete wall used by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect themselves from improvised explosive devices.

“We want to put in a personal touch,” Wynn said.

In preparation for the memorial, the board has been in touch with the families of some fallen Philadelphia-area soldiers, such as North Catholic High School graduate Michael Strange, Philadelphia police officer Gennaro Pellegrini, Montgomery County’s John Todd and Bobby Dembowski, who is one of 22 from Bucks County killed in the Global War on Terrorism.

“We can never match the sacrifices of the men and women on that wall,” Wynn said. “We want to keep their memory alive.” ••

If you go…

For advance tickets, call Tim Wynn at 267–591–3314 or visit tickettailor.com/events/pagwotmemorial

Tickets will be available at the door.

To make a tax-deductible donation, send checks to PA GWOT Memorial, P.O. Box 14554, Philadelphia, PA 19115.

For more information, go to gwotmemorial.org or visit the PA Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial Beef and Beer Benefit page on Facebook.