American Legion awards 2018 Life Changer and hears from Afghanistan combat veterans

Friday, September 7, 2018

From left, Christina Frappier, Ruby Takushi, and Larry Fischer
By Carroll Goering
Photos by Jerry Pickard

American Legion Post 227 members had an eventful evening at their meeting on Tuesday, September 4, 2018.

The Post’s Life Changer award was presented to the 2018 winner, Ruby Takushi, for founding Recovery Café in Seattle as a refuge of Healing, Hope, and Transformation for those suffering from drug or alcohol addictions. The Café offers food and a variety of healthy activities.

In a survey, over 90% of the participants had increased hope and decreased use of drugs and/or alcohol. The award was presented by Christina Frappier, who chaired the selection committee. Takushi was nominated by her friend, Helen Christ, who was in the audience to observe the award presentation.

From left, Tom Young, Daniella Young and Larry Fischer
Post Commander Larry Fischer introduced the invited speakers for the evening, Tom and Daniella Young, who served in combat in Afghanistan.

Tom’s father loved flying a light plane and taught Tom to fly. When Tom joined the Army in 2000, he applied to be a helicopter pilot but was not admitted to flight school.

He became an Army Private but was eventually assigned to be a helicopter mechanic. He later reapplied to flight school and was admitted.

After the 9/11 attacks, Tom was recalled from home leave to begin preparing for combat. He served eight combat tours in Afghanistan, first as a mechanic for CH-47 helicopters and later as a pilot with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer.

In 2009, Tom and his crew were shot down in Afghanistan. Tom was able to get the helicopter to the ground without losing a crew member but his gunner lost part of his leg from the ground attack.

Daniella’s grandfather joined an extreme religious cult and moved to South America with the cult. Daniella’s mother was a cult member when she gave birth to Daniella. Daniella was able to escape from the cult and return to the U.S. 

She joined the Army and became a combat intelligence officer and part of the first group of women to conduct combat operations in a war zone. As a US Army Officer, Daniella was a consultant to high level leadership, led teams of soldiers, and created strong teams. She served two tours in Afghanistan with honor.

Tom and Daniella met on the flight from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Bagram, Afghanistan. They had their first ‘date’ at Green Beans coffee while deployed together. Daniella was Battalion intelligence officer and Tom was a standardization officer and instructor pilot for the unit. After Daniella’s second combat tour, they were married and she retired from the Army.

Daniella is CEO of Cultural Forte, a culture and innovation consulting firm. She has worked with CEO’s, government, military and non-profit leaders to help them make culture their forte, increasing business results by up to 700%. Tom is currently stationed at JBLM and they will be in the Seattle area until Tom retires in 2020. They love to fly private airplanes to wine country, run marathons and swim in the lakes with Lorelei, their trilingual 2-year-old daughter.


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