Hallways mapping the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Squadron Building are covered with pictures of the unit’s fallen heroes. One of these heroes, Spc. Michael Rodriguez, along with with 20 other Scouts from 5th Sqdn., 73rd Cav. Regt., made the ultimate sacrifice in 2007.
Michael’s death brought his Family’s lives to a halt and set them off on the long journey of rebuilding and piecing their lives back together.
Out of the deep feeling of loss, grief and profound sadness that the Southerlands faced while leaning on their faith and hope, a new purpose appeared in service to service members and their Families. Ever since that tragic day, every aspect and event within the Southerland Family’s life was interwoven with the Army and its Soldiers.
Lorie Sutherland (Michael’s mother) has been serving Soldiers and their Families as manager of the Fisher House for over a decade. Her office is decorated with pictures of numerous thankful service members who have stayed at the Fisher House and for whom Southerland became more than a manager of the Fisher House.
Southerland often says, “God took one son and gave me many more.”
The Fisher House at Fort Bragg has served Soldiers and their Families for over 23 years. In these 23 years it has touched the lives of nearly 15,000 Soldiers, veterans, and their Families.
The 5th Sqdn., 73rd Cav. Regt., where Rodriguez served, greatly cares about honoring its fallen heroes and their Families.
As a part of the Squadron commander’s vision for community integration, the 5th Sqdn., 73rd Cav. Regt. Unit Ministry Team coordinated with Southerland to host an event where the unit’s Soldiers and their Families could come together to serve at the Fisher House and help Southerland with the daily operations of the Fisher House.
A few of these services provided by the volunteers included cooking meals for the guests, handling administrative work, pressure washing the exterior of the building and the sidewalks surrounding it, and cleaning the rooms and kitchen. Additionally, Panther Recon Soldiers prepared several dishes, including ‘Panther Recon Chili.’
Spc. Daniel Pinsel gunner and team leader within the mortar section of Troop B, 5th Sqdn., 73rd Cav. Regt. said, “It is very important for my brothers and I to serve because it not only contributes to those in need and those who need help, but serving can also help us grow personally, mentally and spiritually.”
Staff Sergeant David D. Gray III, section sergeant of 1st Platoon, Troop B, 5th Sqdn., 73rd Cav. Regt. said, “It was a humbling experience, being at the Fisher House. Cooking and knowing I am helping to make a difference in other’s lives is a great feeling.”
The 5th Sqdn., 73rd Cav. Regt. has and will continue to serve at the Fisher House and promote its mission in an effort to attract more volunteers who can serve service members and their Families in the time of need.
The respect and honor that goes along with the pride of being associated with the military is similar to none other, but it comes at a very high cost not only to service members but their Families as well.