The Sentinels' Pleasanton team has given a special plaque to country singer Charlie Daniels, thanking him for his many tributes to military men and women including trips to Iraq and Kuwait earlier this year to perform for troops.
Daniels, famous for his contributions to country and southern rock music and known primarily for his Number One country hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and his part in the Grand Ole Opry, took his band to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait this year and also to the Al Asad multi-national base in Iraq both this year and in 2006.
"He's been a true inspiration for the military and we wanted to honor him while he was in town," said City Councilman Jerry Thorne, a Sentinels sponsor who joined others on the team to make the presentation at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, where Charlie Daniels and his band were performing.
The Sentinels of Freedom was founded six years ago by Mike Conklin, who at the time had three sons serving in the Armed Forces. A Realtor with RE/MAX, Conklin set up the organization initially to help a wounded soldier who returned home to Danville after 26 surgeries with no one to lend a hand in his continuing recovery and transition back to civilian life.
Since then, the cycle of helping wounded soldiers continues with the Sentinels now having teams in other parts of the country, including Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, Washington, D.C., Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.
Earlier this year, Thorne won the City Council's approval to join the program by sponsoring wounded veteran and Purple Heart recipient Staff Sergeant Jay Wilkerson, helping him to start a new life in Pleasanton as the city's first Sentinels of Freedom scholarship winner.
Wilkerson, who has recovered from problems stemming from a bomb blast in Iraq three years ago, is now living in the Promenade apartment complex on Case Avenue, working at the city's Operations Services Center and enrolled to resume his college courses at Las Positas College next month.
Wilkerson, Thorne, Conklin, Judy Lloyd, representatives of the Army's Wounded Warrior Program and Pleasanton Military Families joined in the presentation ceremonies at the Fairgrounds, where Daniels accepted the plaque on behalf of his band.