United States Army Staff Sergeant William Kleinedler
Staff Sergeant (SSG) William Kleinedler was born and raised in Michigan. He holds a degree in architecture and maintains a life-long passion for art. SSG Kleinedler served in the U.S. Army for 15 years before being medically retired in 2009 due to injuries he sustained after an improvised exploding device (IED) was detonated under the vehicle he was driving in Iraq.
On October 17, 2006, SSG Kleinedler was with his unit in the town of Tarmijha, Iraq with the mission to provide medical attention to the local Iraqi people. Once the mission was completed, SSG Kleinedler and his unit loaded their trucks and moved out of town. While driving, SSG Kleinedler saw a fresh spot of asphalt in the road as it passed underneath his vehicle. While he immediately knew this spot likely contained an IED, he had no time to react. In an instant, the IED detonated raising the entire vehicle off the ground. The blast punched a hole in the bottom of the truck, blowing fuel inside and igniting it. Immediately flames filled the cabin and engulfed SSG Kleinedler and the four other soldiers he was driving. He instinctively held his breath to avoid inhaling the flames. After struggling with the latch, the door finally popped open and SSG Kleinedler rolled out of the truck and across the road to put out his flames. His team leader was thrown from the vehicle with minor injuries. The gunner and two interpreters were killed. Within three days William was at Brooke Army Medical Center on Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
It would be a long journey back to physical and psychological health for SSG Kleinedler. After sustaining mostly second- and third-degree burns to a substantial portion of his face on upper body, SSG Kleinedler underwent several surgeries over the course of numerous years. Through the work of a wonderful medical staff and plenty of determination from SSG Kleinedler, he regained the use of his hands. Due to the severity of the burns to his face, William will undergo further treatment and surgeries for the foreseeable future. SSG Kleinedler received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, among many other decorations, for his service.
SSG Kleinedler now resides with his wife Jenny and three daughters in New Braintree, Massachusetts. He recently opened a new studio where he continues his study of art and sculpture
2017 Distinguished Veteran
United States Army Specialist Russell J. Edgett
SPC Russell lives in Fairfield, CT with his wife, Sabine. He completed two tours in Afghanistan during his 12 years of active duty service. During his first tour, SPC Edgett was wounded when the vehicle in which he was travelling ran over an improvised explosive device (IED). The explosion caused injuries to his left side that resulting in weakness, limited mobility, nerve damage, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). SPC Edgett remained on active duty and deployed to Afghanistan once again. As a result of his injuries and the PTSD he developed as a result of his experiences, SPC Edgett left military service after this second tour.
Since returning home, SPC Edgett has continued to grapple with his injuries that have kept him from working. After struggling for over two and a half years to find housing, SPC Edgett decided to pay it forward by starting an organization to help fellow veterans in his situation. He started the “Freedom Isn’t Free” ride in 2016 with just a few bikers. Since then, the number of participants has tripled. SPC Edgett is working to secure 501(c)(3) status for the Freedom Isn’t Free Ride Foundation. All funds raised by the foundation will be given to homeless veterans and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).
SPC Edgett is active in his church as a member of the Knights of Columbus and coordinator of the St. Pius X military veterans’ group. He is a member of Port 5 and works with the Homes for the Brave to provide necessities to the veterans housed there. We are pleased to honor SPC Edgett as part of this year’s Sticks for Soldiers Tournament.
Donations may be sent to:
Sticks For Soldiers, Inc.
PO Box 475
Fairfield, CT 06824-0475
United States Army Specialist Calvin Todd
Calvin Todd is originally from Deerfield, NH. He started playing lacrosse at 12 years old. To him, “it (lacrosse) seemed like the world’s greatest invention.” He loved to play and decided to become a goalie because he knew that it would provide him with the most opportunities to play.
After graduation from high school, Calvin attended the College of Wooster, where he played lacrosse during his freshman and sophomore years. Unfortunately, after his sophomore year, Calvin was dealt a blow when he suffered a career ending injury to his hand and wrist. The loss of lacrosse was difficult for Calvin to deal with but, like so many other challenges he faced in life, Calvin would not be kept down. He attained his certification to officiate; a certification that transitioned to coaching.
In the spring of 2010, just a few months before his college graduation, Calvin heard the call to service and enlisted in the United States Army putting his love for lacrosse on hold once again. Calvin trained to become an Army medic so that he could render aid and support to soldiers in need. Upon completion of his training, Calvin was assigned to 1-64 AR, 2HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, GA. In March of 2012, Calvin and his unit were deployed to Afghanistan on a nine month deployment.
On October 4, 2012, SPC Todd was part of a four-day mission in Afghanistan to clear improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and push the Taliban out of the nearby villages. His unit was about 200 meters from its final checkpoint when Taliban fighters opened fire. While moving up front to assist three other soldiers that had been wounded by an IED, Calvin stepped on a secondary device . As a result, Calvin lost his lower left leg. He was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD to begin the recovery process.
During his recovery, Calvin had to learn to walk again. He also worked to learn to run in a modified form. He had to deal with the phantom limb pain and the constant swelling and shrinking of his residual limb. For a while he was lost and confused when thinking of the course for the rest of his life. He questioned whether he would ever be able to follow his passion for lacrosse again.
One day during his recovery, SPC Todd received an email from his former club coach, Jeff Coulson, inviting Calvin to play in an annual winter tournament. Coach Coulson was not aware of Calvin’s injuries. Calvin saw this contact as an opportunity to set a goal for himself: to play again. Calvin knew that he had fought through adversity and injury before and was confident he could do it again. Four months after starting rehabilitation, he began to run again and just a few months after that in March of 2013, he volunteered to coach a local lacrosse program in Washington, DC.
Calvin credits lacrosse for laying the foundations of the man he is today, values further enhanced by his time in service. Lacrosse has motivated him to return to the most normal, active life he can have. Calvin has since studied furniture building and is currently trying to establish himself with his own business. Calvin currently lives with his wife and young son. While he no longer plays, he continues to help Jeff coach the Catamounts when he can.
Checks made payable to:
Sticks for Soldiers, Inc.
Memo note: 2017 S4S
S4S is a 501(c)(3) Tax exempt organization
recognized by the IRS. EIN # 46-0962202.