Don King Pledges Completion of 101st Airborne Monument
24.06.04 - Don King the world-renowned boxing promoter has once again shown his philanthropic side during a morale-boosting visit to Ft. Campbell, KY last week. King came through with a completely unexpected pledge of $150,000 that will be used to complete a monument honoring the mightiest division on the planet the “Screaming Eagles” of the 101st Airborne Division.
Article posted on 25.06.2004
“They are the vanguard of our nation and I am honored to be able to help them,” King said. “These men and women have risked their lives on foreign soil for our freedom and I’m privileged to do whatever I can.”
King was at Ft. Campbell during the “Week of the Eagles,” an annual celebration honoring the 101st Airborne’s illustrious past, present and future. On Thursday, June 17th he was present for the unveiling of a jet-black granite obelisk with panels depicting the history of the 101st. It was noted that the monument would not be completed until additional funds were raised for life-size bronze statues of four “Screaming Eagle” soldiers wearing the uniforms and carrying the weaponry from various periods in the Division’s history.
Many featured guests traditionally simply fly in and fly out when attending special events at Ft. Campbell. King, however, won over even more hearts by spending time with the troops, posing for pictures, signing autographs and shaking hands. It was while mingling with the troops that King found yet another way in which he could provide support and honor our soldiers. The special monument had hit a potential financial snag it seemed. Cost was the issue. It was at least, until Mr. King took to the podium and offered his generous donation.
Don King’s unexpected and charitable pledge of $150,000 came while speaking at the annual “Normandy Dining Out” dinner, a formal event with an invitation list that included Senators, Congressmen, Veterans and Four Star Generals.
The boxing promoter’s continuing inspirational link to the unit began last summer when he answered a letter from Staff Sergeant Franklin J. Eldridge of the 101st Airborne. Eldridge was asking for support for his morale boosting boxing smoker in Mosul, Iraq. While he had sent letters to companies and organizations across the country for help, King was the only one who not only responded, but sent several hundred pounds boxing equipment and memorabilia for the troops.
King followed that up by inviting several of the soldiers to attend the “Night of the Undisputed” on December 13th in Atlantic City - a night which not only featured eight championship fights, a satellite hook-up between Mosul, Iraq and Atlantic City but also ironically turned out to be the same night Saddam Hussein was captured in Takrit.
“Man, that was spiritual,” the promoter said with a smile after the events. Though the relationship with King and the troops was already positive enough, it was King’s recent stepping up to the plate, with another bombshell, that brought the 101st on their feet in appreciation.
King’s gracious move encompasses the philosophy, “a threat to freedom anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere,” which King has said time and again since the War on Terror began in March of 2003. “All races of men making men of all races free” is also a credo of the 101st.
King left a exuberant, flabbergasted and morale-lifted base. Besides his generous gift of time and support, he was in the ring Thursday night for the finals of another successful “Boxing Smoker”, a night in which he, along with Major General Turner and Lieutenant Colonel Fryc presented medals to the winners before an arena, filled to overflowing with members from the 101st along with their families and friends.
“These smokers give us the chance not only to meet people in our own company, but other people as well,” one of the fighters said. King’s generosity was just another common example of his giving in time of need. Last December in Atlantic City, King donated $100,000 to needy families after a parking lot collapsed and four people were killed. He not only donated the money, but also traveled to New Jersey to spend time with the families and the grieving.
For more information, contact Robert Weneck (954) 683-1518.
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