John Dean, a Fort Worth area farmer and rancher, has a place in his heart for the Army. He did one enlistment back in 1960 when he was drafted, and has been trying to give back ever since.
On Monday, he did it in a big way when he and his wife donated $10,000 to a family readiness group in the 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team.
“My heart is just really full of joy,” said Michelle Rone, wife of Lt. Col. Monte Rone, commander of 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment. Michelle Rone and other spouses from the unit’s family readiness group received the donation during a ceremony at III Corps Headquarters.
Dean said he visited Fort Hood in May with the Fort Worth Air Power Foundation, a nonprofit that supports military organizations, and saw the unit during a training exercise. It was then he decided to donate to the family readiness group, comprised of the unit’s hundreds of spouses and dependents.
Michelle Rone said the money will go toward family day activities once the battalion’s troops return from a deployment to Afghanistan, which began last October. The spouses also plan to purchase fresh linens, pillows, toothpaste, candy and other treats for single soldiers who live in the barracks when they return this summer.
The spouses want to “make it home away from home for them,” Michelle Rone said. Her husband spoke from eastern Afghanistan via teleconference during the ceremony.
“It’s truly a special day for all the troopers,” Monte Rone said, calling the occasion “humbling” and a show of great support for the organization.
Dean’s wife, Shirley Dean, thanked the soldiers and spouses for their service.
“What we did is very small compared to what you do,” she said.
Sheryl Banner, the family readiness support assistant, said she has never heard of such a large donation to a family readiness group from an individual.
“As far as this donation, it came as a surprise to me,” Banner said.
Typically, family readiness groups raise money by hosting car washes and bake sales. They might earn $300 or $400 “on a good day,” Banner said.
“I wish I could do everything that they need,” said John Dean, who was a sergeant when he got out of the Army in 1964. “My heart’s still in the Army.”