MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO -- Three years ago, a man by the name of Bob Zimmerman, better known as “Bobby Z,” created the “We Thank Our Troops” organization in order to make wounded Marines returning from the War on Terrorism better cope with their injuries.
On June 6, the organization’s third anniversary, WTOT hosted a dinner at the Casa Guadalajara in Old Town, San Diego, in honor of their first get together at the same location.
“I host events like this to put smiles on their faces,” said Zimmerman as he spoke about the Marines. “After meeting all the Marines and being around them for a while, they become family. The best way I can describe it is like being a father with 45 kids.”
Zimmerman says his motivation behind hosting these events is knowing that the Marines will never come home to the same treatment that the service members in the Vietnam War faced. He said by putting smiles on their faces and laughter in their lives, they can forget about their injuries for a while, even if it is just a short time.
“It’s nice to get out of the barracks and not have to look at what happened to you, or worry about your medical condition for a while,” said Sgt. Chad Carter, a Marine with the Medical Hold platoon at Naval Medical Center San Diego He broke his back in Iraq nearly three years ago. “It’s nice to know that people like Bob still exist and really care about how we feel.”
Carter, a native of Williamsburg, Iowa, said barracks life can be mentally and physically draining. He enjoys anything that gets him away from the day-to-day routine at the hospital, and appreciates the fact that America is still “for the troops.”
The Marines that make up the Wounded Warrior Platoon all agree that America can use more people like Zimmerman.
“Bob is one of those people who would do anything for the troops,” said Carter. “He puts in his time and effort to make sure we are okay and always put the Marines before himself.”
Zimmerman, a Seneca, Penn., native, hosts events such as dinner cruises, concerts, Christmas parties and other outings several times a year at no cost to the Marines.
He said he truly appreciates the sacrifices these young men and women have made and this is his way of giving back.
The dinner marked three years of thanking troops and opened a door for many more to come. For more information on the WTOT organization, visit www.wtot.org.