When Purple Heart Recipients from all around the country gather in Branson, Missouri from Thursday, April 23 through Saturday April 25, 2015, it will be the seventh consecutive year that Branson.Com has hosted Branson.Com Honors Purple Heart Recipients. Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, the parent company of Branson.Com, said, “The event, started by Branson.Com in conjunction with the assistance and support of the ‘The Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) seven years ago and is unique in that it is the only event dedicated solely to honoring, remembering, serving and entertaining those who have received the ‘Purple Heart’ for combat wounds received while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.”
“We are just so honored to have wounded veterans advocate, and the man Colonel Oliver North called, ‘A hero worth hearing,’ in his book ‘American Heroes,’ Corporal Aaron P. Mankin USMC (Ret), as our Keynote Speaker for the events banquet on Friday, April 24,” Wood said. In 1999 when, as a high school debater, he won the Arkansas State Debate Championship and became the “first student in the history of Arkansas high school forensics to qualify for national-level debate competition,” he could not possibly have imagined that he would someday be using those skills to speak out on behalf of wounded members of Americas Armed Forces or the circumstances that would place him in a position to do so.
In 2003 he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was sent to Iraq. During May 2005, when an improvised explosive device exploded underneath a vehicle he was riding in, he lost two fingers and received severe burns on over 25% of his body. The burns on his mouth, nose and ears were so intense that “they were essentially gone.” He is in the 10th year of his recovery during which he has undergone over 60 surgeries.
In addition to fighting his own heroic personal battle for recovery, Corporal Mankin has tirelessly devoted himself to advocating for his fellow wounded warriors by, among other things, serving as a spokesperson for Operation Mend and Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. For his service and his efforts Corporal Mankin has received the 2011 Recipient of the Veterans Leadership Award, the USO’s “George Van Cleave Military Leadership Award” presented by General David Petraeus, and many others. Col. Oliver North, USMC (Ret) in his book “American Heroes” said, “Aaron is a hero worth hearing.”
The three day event is designed to permit a maximum amount of time for the attendees to fellowship and share with each other while experiencing the hospitality and excitement of Branson and attending other activities designed to honor, entertain and support them. For a complete schedule of activities please go to www.Veterans.Branson.Com/events/info/branson-com-honors-purple-heart-recipients.
Highlights include a “Mix and Mingle” at the Starlite Theatre prior to the “Opening Ceremony” that will include entertainment by Branson entertainers Billy Dean and Jarrett Dougherty and a presentation by Corporal Mankin; “Meet and Greets” with Branson entertainers; a Trout Fishing Tournament hosted by Scotty’s Trout Dock on Lake Taneycomo; the event’s banquet with Corporal Mankin as the Keynote Speaker and “The Closing Ceremony” on Saturday, April 25th at the Starlite Theatre featuring a special entertainment segment with a number of Branson entertainers honoring and entertaining the Purple Heart Recipients.
For further information on the 7th Annual Branson.Com Honors Purple Heart Recipients please call 1-800-268-4014 or go to the events website www.Veterans.Branson.Com/events/info/branson-com-honors-purple-heart-recipients.
*Photo courtesy Aaron P. Mankin