Tag Archives: Veterans

There isn’t much to say… except THANK YOU.

7 Dec

Remembering December 7th, 1941…

Pearl Harbor3

Many of us grew up with the tales of that day in history. Our grandfathers shared with us, through a veil of tears, the horrors of war…

Pearl Harbor1

They were the bravest of men in the hardest of times… and then… harder times came…

Pearl Harbor2

They left their friends behind them… those who survived this terrible battle. Those who survived that day carried it’s scars with them, for the rest of the days  of their lives.

Thank you, Grandfather. You stood, you held the line, you aided your brothers. We miss you.

God Bless Them… every one.

Posted by: The Corten Crew

Taylor isn’t JUST a great Guitar…

2 Jun

When ever I hear the name “Taylor” –  I used to think about really outstanding Acoustic Guitars, built by craftsmen right here in America.

Alas, no longer.

While Taylor Guitars are truly the stuff of dreams –  now, that name has been replaced with the face of a fallen American Hero.

I think after reading this, the fine folks at Taylor Guitars will forgive me. I sure hope so. I actually dream about owning “one of their beloved children” someday…

This is a little bit off-topic, but if you read these pages regularly you know how we feel about American Families and the brave men and women who put their lives on the line to defend them;

People have seen the blurb on our pages about a  program we started, to donate Fender Guitars to servicemen serving overseas.

Some people have seen the blurb on these pages (scroll down to the bottom of this page) about the guitars that we rebuild using recycled parts and old Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters… and then we give them away… they’re  donated to American soldiers overseas…

… and these low-lifes have actually sent us hate mail, accusing us of diverting “family housing money” to fuel this “unworthiest of causes”.

Some of them were NOT so “polite” about it. We’ve been called every kind of “war-mongering MF” you can imagine.

People forget that these guys and gals – brothers, fathers sisters and mothers all – leave everything behind, so that they can go put their lives on the line daily, to fight for what they believe in. Many of them pay the ultimate price. Many more of them come home broken and scarred, as they try to return to a “normal” life with their families.

Ofttimes that life will never be “normal” again.

Those “long days and nights in country” take their toll. We know from experience that anyone who says otherwise is either drunk, heavily medicated, lying or insane.

Freedom isn’t FREE.  It’s a right that is PURCHASED. It comes with an invoice for over a MILLION Dead American Men and Women.

We send guitars to guys and gals so that they can (a) find some peace in a hostile place and (b) share that joy (albeit temporary) with others.

So, we build “Alder and Ash love offerings” for guys and gals who need it.

We call it; “Ronin’s Secret Strat Project”.

The soldier never knows WHERE the guitar comes from. He/she only knows that someone who cares about them has sent them some Stratocaster or Telecaster LOVE.

If you’re spiritual or religious, you’ve  probably been shown that acts of charity are supposed to be anonymous. WE don’t need pats on the back. THEY do. 

And as a guitar player, I can tell you that a Stratocaster or Telecaster gives back love all day long.

For the record: Not ONE penny of  “RR” money has EVER been spent on this mission.

The money that fuels the guitar builds isn’t “RR” money, and it never has been. It’s money that comes from the paychecks earned by a small group pf Vets who want to send some love to folks who need it.  We take “hand me down guitars”, pawn shop guitars, and “cast offs” we find in places like Ebay and we turn them into gems…It’s kinda ironic that we send Mexican and Japanese Strats and Teles to American soldiers, but we just can’t afford the American versions.

In other words, we take what we can find/afford and we bring it back… with hard work – as love and admiration for the soldier that we know is going to receive it. .

And… for the record:

We use the money from the “RR” book sales and ISBU consulting to fund the planning and building of homes for families that often can’t  quite reach them otherwise, including – our own. 

In fact, EVERY PENNY of the book money goes directly to the “Corten Cavalry”, for use buying materials and tools for both families in need and global emergencies.

But “Ronin’s Secret Strat Project” happens because we’re inspired, even compelled to do it…

We don’t have to look far to find the inspiration…

We do it because of American Heroes like this:

From “inChive“; (Where an incredible fund drive is going on right now to help Taylor and his family build a cabin)

(Editor’s note: I’ve reformatted this to make it easier to read and I warn you in advance, some of the following photographs and paragraphs will make you cry… At least they made ME cry…)

Taylor Morris learned at an early age he was hooked on the outdoors, adventurous, the middle of 4 children and always the last one inside for dinner at his home in Cedar Falls, Iowa. His mother Juli recalled, “Our family took a camping trip from Niagara Falls down the East Coast one summer. Taylor set up the tents every night, started the fires, cooked the meals. Taylor was only 8 years old.” As Taylor grew older and took to extreme water sports and rock climbing, Taylor discovered he was also very calm under extreme pressure.

This quality would later make him the perfect candidate for the Navy’s EOD, Explosive Ordinance Disposal.

Explosive ordinance disposal specialists were made famous in Kathryn Bigelow’s – The Hurt Locker. They are the preeminent tactical and technical explosives experts. Nicknamed ‘The Shield’, OED specialists always lead, the first to put themselves in harm’s way to tackle unexploded ordinance and IED’s.

Less than one month ago near the Kandahar province in Afghanistan, Taylor was doing his job, right out in front.

Leading a team of Army Special forces to a classified location, Taylor stepped on an IED. It exploded underneath him and blew off all four of his limbs. Taylor recalled the moment to me over the phone,

    “As soon as I stepped on it, I knew. There was a moment, then I heard the blast. I felt the heat. I knew I had lost my legs. As I somersaulted through the air, I watched my legs fly off.”

Taylor landed back in the blast crater.

This is where the story of Taylor’s bravery goes next-level.

After the explosion, Taylor didn’t lose consciousness, he didn’t go into shock. His thoughts immediately crystallized. Even though Taylor was bleeding to death, he called to the oncoming medics NOT to come get him, putting their safety in front of his own life.

    “I recounted the moment of the explosion. There was no visual on the mine and no sound ID on my mine detector. That told me the mine was old. If there were other mines out there, the medics wouldn’t see them or detect them unless it was cleared properly. I knew I had arterial bleeding from all 4 limbs and I was bleeding out fast. I told my buddies to stop, it would only have hurt me more if somebody stepped on another one.”

The area around Taylor was finally cleared by the second EOD and the medic finally administered combat casualty care. Taylor remained conscious through the ordeal.

Three days later on May 6th Taylor landed back in the States and was transported to Walter Reed hospital in Washington D.C. to begin the long and painful rehab process.

You can read more about Taylor, here:

As long as there are guys and gals like this, heroes out there on the rim of the world fighting to defend our freedom, we’re gonna keep doing what we’re doing.

Taylor, as you face each challenging day… I’m so proud of you that it HURTS.

May the big guy above bless you and your family, buddy. You’re in our hearts and prayers.

And to those of you  that are bothered by our actions, contributions or deeds?

Brave Men and Women like Taylor Morris paid for your right to be a jerk.

Go exercise that right somewhere else.

We hate having to “explain/defend ourselves” for doing something that we believe in so strongly.

We just thought that you deserved to hear about this from US, first…


Pssssst! Pass it on…

8 Apr

While we play in the sun and eat chocolate…

‘Lest we forget…

US Veterans are the “Life’s Blood” of America

11 Nov

Because America is drowning in debt… and because a picture says a thousand words:

There aren’t enough words to say… Thanks.

So say I.

All images are credited to their respective artists.

Thanks, guys!

Cathy’s Container Casa

15 Jan


Rarely, if ever, do I leave the same post up for more than three days. But, in this case, I’m making an exception.

Most of you already know that my family is having a rough go of it…

But I need you to look past us, right now.

I want to re-introduce you to a family that needs our help. Yes, I’ve introduced you to this family before.


And they are suffering because this HUSBAND and FATHER is a HERO. There is something terribly, terribly wrong with that.

Agree or disagree with the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, agree or disagree with the decisions that put this Marine  in harms way…

… this post is about a man who had the courage to stand up and be counted, as he stood up for his convictions, and his belief in his country.

And now, his wife and children are paying the price for it.

We’ve asked you to help us in the past, as we struggle to keep this blog and “our own dreams of a home” afloat. But we’re asking you to put that aside for now, and help THIS family. They need the help far more than we do. At least we have  roof.

As we begin the New Year, our hopes pinned on building a Corten Home of our very own, we’re reminded that no matter how hard our lives are, life is harder for others.

I’m interrupting a series I’m currently writing on “Finding  Grants for Housing” to introduce you to someone…

As RR chronicles the builds of Container Homes across America and beyond, I’ve told you about people who are building “under duress.”

I told you about our friend in NC  who is rebuilding her life, as she helps kids rebuild theirs.

She’s got a strong roof over her head now, she’s safe from the bite of winter, and she’s working on plans to expand her property, to create a “home work center” in order to help autistic kids grow strong and healthy.

Are we proud of her? You bet we are!

I told you a while back about a home that we’re going to build for the family of a fallen US Marine in Iraq.

The land has been generously donated by her “extended” family. The containers are being “fabbed’ as I write this. Some of the cabinetry has already arrived. The appliances are pledged. And as the terrific time approaches for that Container Home build, we here at RR want to give you something to think about;

As we start this New Year, remember that when America goes to war, American  families go to war, too.

Our military families are on the front lines…

… and they don’t have the luxury of “simply having an opinion about the war.”

They must deal with the raw consequences of war. When their loved ones are wounded or killed, there is a very real, very emotional, psychological and financial toll attached to it.

As we support all the families of our fallen soldiers (and I’m sure that you do, too), I’m asking you to pledge support to the family of one of America’s fallen warriors.

Cathy needs the time and space to rebuild relationships with her 3 young children, to find solace and peace as they all grieve and adjust, and safety as they heal the physical and emotional wounds that devastate all  families when they lose a loved one.

If you can’t volunteer to help build this home for Cathy and her kids (and many of you have), pledge a couple of bucks to pay for building materials. There’s a Paypal button at the top of this page.

Don’t do it for us. Do it for Cathy, and more importantly, do it for her kids.

Just add “For Cathy’s Containers” to the memo line.

Many of us are struggling to rebuild, after hardship comes to the door. But Cathy’s fight is harder. She is doing it without her husband and his strong shoulders to rely on.

And as you help this project become more than just a “success”, keep this in the back of your mind;

It isn’t simply the “Men and Women in Uniform” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and “All Points Elsewhere.”

In that support you harbor in your heart for the Brave MEN and WOMEN in our military and all its veterans, please pledge to keep in mind their families here at home..

Those brave warriors don’t fall alone.

Their families also fall with them.

Cathy’s family is just one of them.

Stay tuned.

SPECIAL ADDENDUM: January 22, 2010

In the last few days, I’ve gotten an email or two that basically reminded me of the death benefits paid to killed soldiers families.

I posted this as a comment on the “Origins of this build post”, but I’m going to post it here too, to insure that it isn’t missed by anyone:

The commenters make it sound like having your husband or wife killed is like winning a government sanctioned lottery. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Most of us know that when a soldier gets killed, his family does eventually get $100,000 tax-free. And it’s possible that life insurance may add some more to that amount, over time.

But, I spoke to a Chaplain (One of the guys who comes to your house to tell you that your husband or wife has been killed), who reminded me that although there are programs available to dependents of killed soldiers, they don’t happen “overnight”.

In fact, it can take some time for them to start working thru to the families that need them.

Additionally, with the increase in troop deployments, housing officers are pretty aggressive in dealing with housing, and this does convince some families to leave the base “early” only to find out that the housing allowance they’re entitled to won’t cover the actual cost of housing in the resettlement place of their choosing.

There’s a lot of duress attached to this. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you can only imagine.

He also reminded me that this is the last actual “paycheck” this fallen soldier will ever get. If he’s young, it’s nothing but a pittance when you consider how long he or she would have lived and worked, in Middle America supporting his or her family.

Nor does it take into consideration existing debt, like car loans, or credit card debt, and feeding and clothing your kids. Most enlisted soldiers and their families live at what is basically the poverty level. Credit cards become life rafts, until you can no longer make the payments, because Mommy or Daddy is dead.

Let’s do some math;

Paying off the cars, and clearing the credit card debt. Plus clothes for the new school year. There goes $30-40 thousand, maybe even $50 thousand right off the top, to keep the wolves at bay.

That “death benefit check” isn’t going that far, is it?

And I’ll remind you that analysts are saying that the REAL unemployment rate in America is over 20% right now. Mom or Dad is gonna pay daycare while they look for a decent job, IF they can find one, and they have the skillset demanded for it. And then, they’re going to pay for child care so that they can work to fill in all the gaps.

And day care isn’t cheap. There goes another $20 thousand dollars a year, at least…

That “death benefit” money REALLY isn’t going to go very far, all things considered.

And, you still haven’t addressed a regular mortgage payment over time, just to have a roof while you try to adjust. mortgage. Even if you live in a slum, there’s another $12-15,000.

Let’s see… you got $100,000 grand, eventually. And just to survive, you had to spend at least $60-75 thousand, just to try and prepare for whatever will come in the next few years, while you face life alone. (Okay, you CAN get a TAPs counselor on the phone, if you have to.) Yeah, that’s “lottery” riches.

Regardless of what programs this family is entitled to eventually, one thing is certain, they won’t lack for a home, NOW.

They already have enough to deal with.

And if they get a “decent” amount of money later, the surviving parent can insure that the kids will go to a “decent” college.

Nut’s to all that stress… I’m building them a house. I’ll use my own stuff if I have to. It’s one less thing for them to worry about.