Letters to the Editor

Letter: Remembering the fallen

Thank you to the Anchorage Daily News and Associated Press writer Mark Thiessen for so beautifully honoring my father-in-law — Major General Thomas P. Carroll — and the Alaska Guardsmen killed in a plane crash after the 1964 earthquake in Valdez. We are forever grateful to Chuck Volanti and Sheri Piece of Valdez, who for 53 years have worked to help us remember the lives of our loved ones who served. This monument honors and remembers not just the deaths, but also the lives of those who perished on that fateful day — April 25, 1964.
My husband, Brigadier General Tom Carroll, lived a life inspired by his father. He was proud to follow in his footsteps, joining the Army and serving in combat. In the Carroll family tradition, Tom lived in service, ultimately becoming the Assistant Adjutant General, Army, of the Alaska National Guard, while also serving as the Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

When Tom was killed in the Alaska National Guard plane crash in 1992, I was aware of support organizations such as Victims for Justice from my work in the Anchorage district attorney's office, and of the support available to military families through my own service in the Alaska Air National Guard. I was surprised, however, to find that what didn't exist back in those days was a support organization for military families grieving a loss. So, in 1994 I founded the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors as an Alaska nonprofit, with the help of Sen. Ted Stevens, Gov. Wally Hickel, Anchorage Police Chaplain Bert McQueen, and Anchorage District Attorney Edward McNally, who later lost his own brother in a military plane crash and today sits on the TAPS Board of Directors.

Almost 25 years later, the program still operates as an Alaska nonprofit corporation with a headquarters now in Arlington, Virginia. Whenever someone dies in the military, no matter the cause or the location, their family is connected to our organization. It is the front-line program caring for the families of America's fallen heroes, with more than 80,000 surviving military loved ones receiving comfort and care as they grieve their losses.

We are a great state because of our citizens. Alaskans rise above tragedy, seize opportunity and meet needs. We remember the lives of those who have stepped forward to selflessly serve their community, their state and their country. It is through actions taken in their memory that we then become the living legacies of those who have gone before us.

Maj. Gen. Carroll and his son, my husband, lived lives of quiet courage and selfless service. I am so thankful their lives and their legacies continue to be honored today.
— Bonnie Carroll

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