The Sullivan Auto Group was proud and honored to play a small part in helping to transport SSGT frank Taphorn to Sacramento International Airport. After hearing this touching story, Mr. Sullivan's nieces, Christy and Kay personally assisted with Frank's needed transportation. As Gideon Asche reports:
You restored much of my faith in humanity.
A special Thank you and a shout out to: The John Sullivan Family, the Amador Ledger Dispatch, Dr. Robert Hartman and the Sacramento County Sheriffs Dept. for stepping up to the plate beyond anything anyone could have expected.
I have never seen SSG Frank Taphorn happier of more filled with pride as he was surrounded by the Sac County Deputies.
For you who were not there….
Let me tell you about the day Deputies saved Christmas.
About 6 weeks ago I got a phone call from an old friend.
My friend Frank was worried that he could no longer live alone and, to put it bluntly, at almost 99, he has simply outlived most of his savings leaving a county home as his only option.
He had a daughter who was willing to take him into her home but the cost of transporting an elderly patient that far was out of reach.
I consider Frank my brother in arms,
Frank Taphorn made 5 seaborne invasions in WW2, Onan, Tunisia, Solerno, Anzio and Eastern France.
On the way, Frank earned 5 Bronze Stars, 2 Silver Stars and 3 Purple hearts for actions under enemy fire.
As an old Paratrooper myself, I felt I had no choice but to do whatever I had to, to make sure this old warrior did not have to die alone in a home surrounded by strangers.
Part of the Soldier's ethos is, "We will not leave one of our own behind"… so I fired a symbolic "Red Flare" cluster to every old Soldier I could think of, from one end of the republic to the other hoping a few of them could spare a dollar or two to help cover the Plane fare.
They did, and in a matter of days, we had air transport covered.
The $8.000 to pay for a medical escort was the next insurmountable obstacle… The Amador Ledger Dispatch reprinted an article I wrote about Frank and once again the Universe smiled on us.
A Local MD got wind of the problem, He immediately volunteered to make the trip as Medical Escort, (on his own dime.)
This left us with but one problem - Transporting SSG Taphorn to the airport and through Security - a much bigger problem than I ever expected.
The John L. Sullivan family required just under 10 seconds or so to offer to provide transportation from Franks home, 90 mins to the airport. (Special thanks to Christy and Kay, Mr. Sullivan's Nieces who made it happen)
This left the trip through airport security as our only major hurdle. - And let me tell you; a non-ambulatory patient in a wheelchair with medical equipment is a serious event when it comes to getting past TSA.
After several days of dead ends and the basic message that I needed to get Frank to the airport several hours early for check in, I was desperate for a solution that did not involve. Several hours in line.
I had the privilege of operating with US Law Enforcement in South America during the 90's, I knew that they tend to live by an ethos that parallels and is almost identical to the one I live buy as a soldier.
They were my last chance, the last ones who might be able to help me get SSG Taphorn to his flight.
I sent a simple message to the Sac Sheriff's dept asking for "guidance" and "direction" on how to get Frank through Security with the least resistance. - I did my happy dance across my office when they responded saying someone would meet us and direct me through the process.
What I didn't expect was to roll up to the curb and be met by a Squad of Deputies who, for lack of a better term, took custody of Frank and escorted him through every step of the process. Each officer taking the time to shake Frank's hand show him the respect an old Warrior of his caliber is due.
Once in the waiting area, the officers stayed with Frank and let him share his memories of the War.
I have spent one day of most of the last 75 or so weeks just listening to Frank tell the stories he kept to himself for so long.
It disturbed and shamed me when Frank told me he didn't think anyone even remembered what they did in WW2, let alone cared about it.
You, the Officers who took it upon yourselves to meet Frank at the Airport changed his mind and May have added years to his life.
I leaned over to Frank while we were in the waiting area and whispered "See, brother, not everyone has forgotten," he looked around at the audience of Deputies, military, and random passersby he squeezed my hand just about as hard as the Old Warrior could, and just nodded his head, then continued his story.
That moment is the happiest I have ever seen Frank.
I received a message from one of Franks Grand Children on Saturday evening -
"Paw Paw arrived safe & sound!"
This is likely Frank's last or one of his last Christmases and because of each of you, he will spend it surrounded by 3 generations of Grandchildren, Great Grandchildren, and Great Great Grandchildren who are eager to hear his stories.
You made me proud to have worn the Uniform.
Gideon D. Asche