What began as a BBQ became so much more...
It all began in April, 2013 when members of 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group at Ft. Bragg, NC joined efforts to honor and remember two of their former teammates, Mike Duskin and Riley Stephens who were killed in action in Wardack Province, Afghanistan. With no start-up capital and little guidance on how to create such a venture, they relied heavily on the efforts of family members and teammates to plan, organize, and execute the benefit. In a matter of 5 weeks, a small group of approximately 15 people raised money and garnered donations from the surrounding communities of Southern Pines, Fayetteville, and Pinehurst, NC and as far reaching as Dallas, Miami, and New York City. They walked into local stores, restaurants, and breweries beseeching any support people were willing to give. The wives of Mike and Riley’s teammates started a Facebook page to raise event awareness. Former teammates of the two fallen soldiers donated money and also implored local businesses for donations.
By the time the benefit came to a close on May 23rd, 2013, the small group of people who were determined to take care of the families of their fallen comrades in arms had raised so much more than they ever anticipated with over 1,000 people walking through the door of the venue that night. The crowd watched with anticipation as skydivers exited an airplane thousands of feet above with the American flag draped from their backs as the sound of our National Anthem filled the air; not a single dry eye could be found. As the two Gold Star families were honored throughout the night, no one spoke a sad word or muttered a sound of despair. It was a night full of celebration and support.
It was agreed this wouldn't be a solemn event, but to use it as a show of force for what our community is, what we stand for. We wanted to show the physical community in which we live that we don't speak hollow words. When it is our time to stand next to the families that our brothers leave behind, we will fulfill our promise. We will not let those families stand alone.
Now over half a decade strong, the Beef & Beer has become a staple in the Sandhills community, uniting the military and civilian populations under the common goal of raising funds to support the families of fallen members of Special Operations Forces and the educational needs of children of active duty Special Operations Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines through community outreach events, scholarships, interactive educational/recreational programs, and related activities.