Foundation gives bonds to slain troops' children
August 31, 2003
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation has donated millions of dollars in bonds to children whose parents died in the line of duty, and this war on terrorism is no exception, except that the foundation is awarding bonds across services and to children of coalition forces.
“We said we were going to be doing this for the shooting part of the war, but we’ve had so many donations come in, we’re going to keep it going until the money is gone,” said Peter Haas, president and one of four founders of the New York-based foundation.
“Shooting part,” refers to the combat phase of the war in Iraq between March to May. Since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on May 1, 66 American troops have been killed in hostile incidents. During the combat phase, 112 troops were killed in action and another 26 died in accidents. Since the war began March 19, 178 Americans have been killed in action and 104 in non-hostile incidents. Eight-six troops and CIA members have died in Afghanistan and the Philippines related to Operation Enduring Freedom.
Stemming from deaths related to operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines, the foundation awarded $2.1 million in $40,000 bonds to the children of killed Marines, $1.1 million to children of airmen and $600,000 to children of sailors. The foundation still is calculating bonds to be paid to children of soldiers, but Haas estimated it would be more than $6 million.
“We’re still working out the particulars on how to give bonds to the families of British troops and others,” he said. “They will receive the bonds in pounds, but it will be the equivalent of 40,000 U.S. dollars.”
The foundation got its start in 1985 to take care of children of Marines and federal law enforcement personnel. “Widows and widowers move quickly through our system. The way it is in our country, once the flag is presented at the grave on behalf of the president, that could be the last time they have any contact with us. We wanted to do something and do something now so that the widow or widower would have something in their possession that they could use to plan for the future,” said Haas, who served as a Marine from 1945 to 1958 and is a retired stockbroker.
The bonds can be cashed out when the child turns 19, and though the foundation hopes he or she will use it toward education, the cash can be used for any purpose. Foundation bonds have ranged from $10,000 to the current $40,000.
The foundation has paid out bonds to children whose parents were killed in the Beirut bombing in 1983; the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and children of the astronauts killed when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded in February, he said.
Organizers and board members serve on a volunteer basis so that 100 percent of donations go toward buying the bonds, Haas said.
Donations can be made through the Combined Federal Campaign, selection 2134; via Internet at www.www.mc-lef.org; or by mailing contributions to P.O. Box 37, Mountain Lakes, N.J. 07046.