Gold Star families from around the country will be brought to Hawaii on an all-expense-paid trip to Oahu, Hawaii from May 2-8. The Marine Reconnaissance Foundation (MRF) is covering transportation, accommodations, meals, and all other expenses as they pull out all the stops for an event with the sole purpose of honoring the families of fallen Reconnaissance Marines and corpsmen. Six families in total—one family from each Marine Reconnaissance and Force Reconnaissance battalion—have been selected to attend.

For some families, when the call came that they had been selected to attend the all-inclusive event, they thought they were getting pranked or scammed. It was not a joke. Quickly that skepticism turned to excitement and gratitude. The attendees have never asked for anything like this, but no one is more deserving than they are.

Gold Star mother Robin Ferschke said she was one of the skeptics at first. “I thought it couldn’t be real when they said they wanted to send us to Hawaii.” But she added that speaking with the organization a little more and learning about who they are changed everything. “So many organizations are not trustworthy, but the sincerity was evident with this one. This event is about what they can do for us, not how we can help them.”

Robin’s son, Sergeant Michael Ferschke Jr., was killed in action during a fierce gun battle that occurred in Iraq during a 2008 deployment with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. She said that, after more than 10 years, the pain of losing her beloved son is still there, but she hopes this event will help her and others to find some peace together. “The emotions will always be there, but now I have a sense of purpose…a reason to go on through supporting the other families who have experienced this unimaginable loss. I have often felt alone, but now I realize that I’m not. I am part of a brotherhood of Marines and other Gold Star families.”

Parents of Sergeant Michael Ferschke Jr. visit their son’s grave. He was, and is, their hero.

Each of the families attending have lost a son, brother, or husband to combat operations, and for the first time, the MRF has partnered with the Paul Mitchell estate, who generously provided a one-of-a-kind venue and experience. Other partners include: Paradise Helicopters, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Restaurant 604, Chinen Marketing Group, and Taro Brand. More than one year in the making, the event will include access to a private beach at the estate, a private chef, a traditional Hawaiian luau, a private helicopter tour of the island, horseback riding, ATV tours, a private tour of the USS Missouri and Ford Island Naval Museum, and many surprises along the way.

There are numerous organizations that do excellent work in providing for families in need, and events like this are important for several reasons. First and foremost, they honor the memories of the fallen. They’re also important for the families who have lost a loved one and have sacrificed so much on behalf of our country to see the legacy of their loved ones carried on. Gold Star events like this are also an opportunity for those of us who have not lost a son, brother, or husband in combat to be made aware or to be reminded that the loss of life is real—and to support Gold Star families by donating to the various foundations that exist to support them.

Robin Ferschke added, “MRF is not just an organization. It is a family that we will forever be a part of. My son, Michael, was the best son a parent could ask for and he always had a smile on his face. He never quit when faced with adversity, and we all have to be more like him and carry on that way.”

If you would like to donate to the Marine Reconnaissance Foundation to support this event and others, under “How would you like to allocate your donation?” please select “Gold Star Family Retreat” at this link.