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San Luis Obispo

Gunnery Sergeant Robert L. Gilbert II was killed in action in Afghanistan. Wounded on March 8, he died on March 16, his 28th birthday. He was a Special Operations Marine on his fifth tour of duty (three in Iraq, two in Afghanistan) who loved his country. He received many medals and awards prior to his death; and was awarded the Purple Heart at his bedside and the Bronze Star posthumously. More than a soldier, he was a wonderful young man, someone I loved very much.

Bear with me. I am his aunt, a college student who had no financial means to get to Ohio for the funeral, to support my family and say goodbye. Determined to get there to honor my nephew, I contacted numerous agencies to obtain financial assistance. Most responded with the phrase “Sorry, you are only his aunt.”  Only his aunt? Well, this aunt was determined and with every “no, sorry” I received, I persisted in my search.

Ultimately, gratefully, I attended the celebration of Gunnery Sergeant Robert’s life at his funeral. I was granted the opportunity to say goodbye to my beloved nephew.

Whether you support the war or not there are many aunts, uncles, and other close loved ones who need financial support during such a crisis. I am grateful there are agencies that found it in their hearts to provide financial assistance for this grieving aunt. As my way of thanking them I am making a request: The next time New Times’ readers want to send donations to a worthy organization, whether for tax purposes or otherwise, please give to the following agencies, who understand and provide financial assistance to loved ones during such crises:

Air Compassion America provided air transportation. Call (866) 270-9190 or go to aircompassionamerica.org

Wounded Warriors Family Support. Call (402)502-7557 or e-mail katemccauley@woundedwarriorsfamilysupport.org

The San Luis Obispo County Chapter of the Red Cross. Donate to this chapter specifically by calling 543-0696, ext. 14.

Last but not least, I thank the professors, staff, and fellow students at Cuesta College. Without their kind support this heartbreaking loss would have been much more difficult. In honor of Gunnery Sergeant Robert L. Gilbert II USMC, thank you!  

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