Gold Star mom brings meaning to son’s death
February 9, 2019
While Staff Sgt. Sean Diamond wasn't from Carson Valley, he loved getting his mother's care packages postmarked from here while he was overseas.
On Friday, Gardnerville resident Sally Wiley will observe the 10th anniversary of Diamond's death in southern Iraq and of the care package program she began in his memory
"My husband Michael and I have been doing care packages for 10 years this year out of our garage, and with an enormous amount of generous people helping in many ways," she said.
Diamond was killed by an improvised explosive device on Feb. 15, 2009, while serving his third tour as an Army engineer. He would have been 41 on March 17.
He was supposed to go home on leave, but never made it.
"I made the decision after he was killed to 'not be bitter, but to be better,'" Wiley said. "Sean loved his men and and loved his care packages, so I decided, since I no longer had him to send care packages to, I would start sending care packages to those who were and are still serving."
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Wiley said that Friday marks a decade since she and husband Michael started sending Troop Care Packages to service personnel stationed overseas, with the help of many friends and volunteers.
"I could not begin to name them all," she said. "It also been a healing process for me as well, which I did not anticipate at the time, and for which am still grateful."
Wiley said they've prepared and mailed 288 care packages in 2018, with postage running $5,011.20.
She said they've mailed 1,729 care packages over the past 10 years at a cost of $30,084.60.
"We have a wonderful, loyal, great, giving, group of amazing people I am proud to call my friends, who help with pre-packing, organizing and those who continually help on packing days," she said. "We send packages six times a year for Valentine's Day, Easter, Fourth of July, August, just because, Halloween and Christmas."
They've prepared and sent out 40 Valentines Day packages at a cost of $696.
"It all works because of people, who, for one reason or another know what we do, and offer to help, by donating funds (especially for the postage to send the packages), all the items, homemade cookies etc., and those who actually do the packing of the boxes," she said. "We have friends, friends of friends of people in Douglas County, Carson City, Reno, Elko, and especially the members of Honor Flight Nevada, the VFW, other veterans organizations plus numerous other organizations and clubs, who have kept us going all these years."
She said husband Michael does all the accounting for the project.
"Just imagine how many of our heroes over the past nine years (and one mailing this year) have received those packages from home, because I lost my son, and because of the generosity of love, time, effort, and involvement off all those mentioned above, they receive their care packages from the heart of Nevadans."
Wiley thanked everyone who has participated in the care package project.
"Please know, from the bottom of my heart, that what we do together as a team, running as a well oiled machine, is something for which I will be eternally grateful," she said.
A reserve in Camp Parks, Calif., Diamond volunteered to go just before the war started.
Diamond spent his first tour readying equipment in Germany before heading into Iraq with a Marine unit. He spent almost a year at the Saddam Hussein Airport building.
"Sean has four children, three in college and one in high school, a wife, an identical twin and a younger brother, many family members and many friends all over, including Nevada, who will never forget him for his sacrifice for his family and his country."