America Supports You: Italian Company Gives $75,000 for Wounded Vets
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 16, 2006 Wounded troops can eat a lot of steaks on $75,000, which is the amount the Italian company, Finmeccanica, Inc., gave Washington's Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse today during a Pentagon ceremony hosted by the deputy secretary of defense.
Holding a replica of the $75,000 check presented to Washington's Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse are co-owner Marty O'Brien and Pier Francesco Guarguaglini (right), chairman and chief executive officer of the Finmeccanica, Inc., of Rome, Italy. The company donated the money to help the restaurant provide free steak dinners to wounded servicemembers. Standing in the background are servicemembers recuperating from wounds suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo by Rudi Williams
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The steaks, chops, seafood, chicken and other culinary delights $75,000 will buy is for a good cause -- wounded veterans of the global war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan being treated at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Navy Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md.
Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England thanked Hal Koster and Marty O'Brien, co-owners of the famous steakhouse, for expressing their appreciation for U.S. servicemen and women by hosting the Friday Night Dinners Reunion Celebration for the past three years.
He also thanked Jim Mayer, a Department of Veterans Affairs employee and a volunteer at Walter Reed who helped start the steak night celebration for patients three years ago.
England acknowledged the presence of servicemembers who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and have attended steak night at Fran O'Brien's restaurant. "These magnificent men and women wearing the uniform of our nation are part of Operation Warfighter Program (for) wounded servicemembers in the Pentagon as part of their recovery," England explained. "We also have people here from Walter Reed and Bethesda who care for and take care of all these people who are recovering."
England also recognized several members of DoD's America Supports You team for showing their commitment to servicemen and women, particularly those who have been wounded.
Stephen D. Bryen, president of Finmeccanica, Inc.'s USA affiliate, said Fran O'Brien's owners "demonstrated the initiative in insight when they decided to honor America's heroes by opening the restaurant to them."
"The gesture proved to be an invaluable part of the rehabilitation process for our soldiers and heroes, an important milestone on the road to recovery," he continued. "When it became clear that Hal and Marty couldn't do this on their own, others joined in."
Finmeccanica, a global aerospace and defense company, played an important role in contributing funds and raising money from colleagues in the air and space community.
"We're donating this for the troops, for the wounded soldiers," Bryen said. "I have a daughter in the Army serving in Iraq, so I know a little bit about what our soldiers are doing from her and the sacrifices they're making. We just wanted to do something to pay back a little bit of what we could to help them out and to get their lives moving again, which is what the purpose of these dinners really is."
His daughter, Maj. Gabrielle Bryen, is serving in Baqubah, Iraq, with the 4th Infantry Division.
"As long as the war keeps going and there are wounded veterans out there we're going to keep it going," O'Brien said of the Friday night dinners.