GULFPORT, MS - Taco Sanchez has put on golf tournaments for veterans for five years. But the one at Bayou Vista Golf Course in Gulfport on Saturday has a personal connection.
"I was on the lead airplane in Iran in 1980," Sanchez said. "I was loadmaster."
It was the Iran hostage rescue attempt that ended in disaster.
"We buried eight great Americans that night. I knew them all. They were brothers in arms," Sanchez.
Both he and his friend George Ferkes survived, and they knew they had a responsibility. That's when the Special Operations Warrior Foundation began.
"There were 17 kids that were left behind by the eight deaths," said Ferkes, foundation director. "We made a solemn pledge that we would take care of those kids and over the years it has grown to where it is now where over 1,200 kids are underneath the umbrella."
The golf tournament money will go to help the foundation provide college scholarships and educational counseling for those surviving children.
"It gets me right here," he said. "It's all from the heart. Every one of these guys that have ever worked on this and seen the kids, they know it's from the heart."
Sanchez still deals with the memory.
"On April 24, which was the day of the raid, I get very, very melancholy," he said. "I normally go try to find a quiet place, sit on the beach and cry and drink a couple of beers to my brothers I lost."
But, the tournaments help. Now his Hole of Honor on No. 18, has even a bigger meaning. This is dedicated to some special names and is tended with honor.
"So that, when you're playing this hole when you get on this green, it's emotional," Sanchez added.
One of those is for World War II veteran Jim Highton.
"I'm honored for them to do that. It's wonderful," he said. "They've been doing this every year and I've been coming here every year to witness such a thing. This is beautiful."
Joe Trejo, retired Army Ranger, says events like this helps him deal with memories of lost brothers.
"It helps the healing quite a bit," he said. "When you see a lot of soldiers coming back out there, you reunite with them and it just makes you feel better."
Special Operations Forces are made up of nearly 70,000 Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps personnel.
For more on how to help support the foundation, go to www.specialops.org.