The Hearts of Valor Ball is the Heart of a Marine's biggest fundraiser. This year, it is being held Feb. 16 at the Schaumburg Marriott and tickets are available. Visit www.heartofamarine.org for tickets.
Roy Frank says while the ball opening is always a moving ceremony, "we keep the Gold Star references to a minimum."
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About Sean ParnellAs a U.S. Army Airborne Ranger, Sean Parnell served in the legendary 10th Mountain Division for six years, retiring as a highly decorated captain.
Parnell received two Bronze Stars (one for valor) and the Purple Heart. He led one of the most decorated light infantry units in Operation Enduring Freedom -- nicknamed the Outlaw Platoon. For 485 days, he and his men experienced some of the most brutal fighting in the Afghan War.
On May 7, 2006, what started out as a routine patrol through the lower mountains of the Hindu Kush turned into a lethal ambush by a professional and seasoned Taliban force.
What followed were 16 months of continuous combat in which Parnell's platoon killed more than 350 enemy combatants, without causing a single civilian casualty.
More than 80 percent of his men were wounded and, in total, earned 32 Purple Hearts and were deployed longer and saw more combat than any other platoon since the War on Terror began in October 2001.
Parnell lives with his wife and three children in Pittsburgh.
The ball, he says, is "a celebration of military service and sacrifice," including active military members, who are invited to attend for free and treated like royalty; veterans of all eras; military families; and people who support the work that Heart Of A Marine does.
It's an opportunity, Frank says, to give them a night out, a six-hour party.
There's music and dancing and a special recognition and "welcome home" for Vietnam veterans. A choir sings the anthem of each branch of service.
If you go
When: 6 p.m.-midnight
Where: Chicago Marriott Schaumburg, 50 N. Martingale Road, Schaumburg
What: Dinner, dancing, open beverage stations, silent and live auctions
Tickets: $100 per person
Civilian dress: Black-tie optional
Military dress: Dress Blues, Dress Mess, or Class 'A' Uniforms preferred
Guest speaker: Capt. Sean Parnell, USA (Ret) former Airborne Ranger and author