Saluting Stories of Service Gala Raises $125,000

The sold-out ballroom welcomed Medal of Honor Recipient James M. Sprayberry, and celebrated Vietnam Veteran Franklin P. Lambert and VHP Alumna, 1st Lt. Barbara S. Ripa, USMC

Phoenix, Ariz. (Friday, March 11, 2022) – On Saturday, March 5, 2022, Veterans Heritage Project (VHP) hosted their third annual Saluting Stories of Service Gala. The event honored the service of veterans, celebrated the accomplishments of VHP program students, and raised $125,000 for the continuation and growth of the after-school character-education program. VHP’s mission is to Connect Students with Veterans™ in order to honor veterans, preserve America’s heritage, and develop future leaders.
Veterans Heritage Project was honored to welcome over 400 guests, including Congressman David Schwikert; The Honorable David Ortega, Mayor of the City of Scottdale; representing the Governor’s Office, Barry Wong, the Director of the Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity; The Honorable Olli Honkkila, Honorary Consul of Finland to Arizona; COL (Ret.) Wanda Wright, the Director of Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services; MAJ GEN (Ret.) Michael McGuire; Jim Monroe, President of the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame Society; John Crane, Vice Mayor of Carefree; and Jane Barnes from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Schwigert and Covarrubias
Silver Star, Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star w/valor and Purple Heart recipient, Franklin P. Lambert received the 2022 Storyteller Award. A veteran is selected for the award for their willingness to share their story and impart valuable lessons, and for their continued service to the community and VHP’s mission.
“Veterans light the torch with their stories, and the new generation carries forward lessons of service, leadership, and character for all to hear,” said Frank Lambert.

His example has inspired thousands through school lectures and community presentations, and through his published story in VHP’s 2011 edition of Since You Asked.™ 

Medal of Honor recipient, LTC (Ret.) James “Mike” Sprayberry, served as the events special guest.  Mike and Frank have a special relationship.  During his tour in Vietnam, Mike led a night mission in the A Shau Valley, which resulted in saving the life of Frank Lambert and others from the platoon, who were wounded and surrounded by the enemy. 

In the 2015 documentary, The MIAs on Tiger Mountain, filmmaker and producer, Norman Lloyd, accompanies Frank Lambert, Mike Sprayberry and others from Delta Company, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, on a return trip to Vietnam to recount that fateful day, April 25, 1968. Mr. Lloyd gave his permission for VHP to present an edited segment to gala attendees as an introduction to Frank and Mike’s presentation about the day that was almost their last.

With the support of the Reifschneider Family Philanthropy Fund, the Alumni Service Award was created to recognize outstanding alumni who have integrity, set goals and pursue excellence, and engage with the community by giving back. Rob Reifschneider assisted VHP Founder Barbara Hatch in presenting the award to 1st Lt. Barbara Sofia Ripa, USMC.  Sofia attributes the skills of listening and asking the right questions to her experiences interviewing six veterans during her time with VHP.  These skills prepared Sofia to help care for fellow Marines who were involved in the pullout from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Iain Lanphier, A 10th grade honors student at Brophy College Preparatory and great grandson of Brigadier General Charles E. McGee, an Original Tuskegee Airman who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, served as the emcee. 

Proud event sponsors include Salt River Project, TriWest Healthcare Alliance, ProOne Media Productions, Plexus Worldwide, Sanderson Lincoln, and the Kiwanis Club of Carefree. for photo gallery