April 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm by Brian Koonz
Steve Mattson has never met Lance Cpl. John G. Curtin, the 21-year-old U.S. Marine who lost both legs below the knee and suffered other injuries Feb. 15 when a bomb exploded in Afghanistan.
But Mattson, the senior vice commander of VFW Post No. 672 in Brewster, N.Y. — and a former Marine — is eager to help Curtin any way he can.
He’s not alone.
Although Curtin grew up in Wingdale, N.Y., his parents are from Southeast. The way Mattson and the other veterans at Post No. 672 figure it, Curtin is one of their own.
As Curtin recovers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., his progress is lifted by prayers from voices that are dear to him, and others he has never heard before.
On Sunday, from 9 a.m. to noon, VFW Post No. 672 will hold a benefit breakfast at 262 Peaceable Hill Road to help pay for Curtin’s medical expenses that aren’t covered by the military. The money will also be used to help pay for his family’s stay in Washington.
“This is what the VFW is here for,” said Mattson, who lives in Brewster and works in Danbury. “The VFW’s motto is to honor the dead by helping the living.
“I can’t imagine going through what he did. I don’t think that anybody can imagine it unless they’ve gone through it,” Mattson said. “But he’s a local kid and we’re honored to help raise money for him.”
Mattson said Thursday he figures about 150 people will show up for the breakfast. Don’t be surprised if the final tally comes in at 200.
There have already been three fundraising events for Curtin, with at least five more planned, including one April 25 in New Milford at Milano’s Restaurant on Railroad Street.
“When something like this happens, especially to someone so young, you don’t have to be in the military, you don’t have to be from a military family to be touched by it,” Mattson said. “It touches everyone.”
Over the past few days, Mattson has fielded phone calls from folks who want to donate bread and orange juice for the VFW breakfast. Other people have asked about writing checks.
In that case, Mattson said, checks should be made out to the “Putnam County Council VFW” with “LCpl John G. Curtin USMC” written in the memo line.
The mailing address is 40 Schuylkill Court, Carmel, N.Y. 10512. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.
To read more about Lance Cpl. John G. Curtin, check out my “Take on Life” column Friday.
Exclusively in the print edition of The News-Times.