Photo Credit: By Sgt. David Harris, 4th PSYOP Group (A) Public Affairs Office
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, July 27, 2009) - Soldiers from the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), gathered at the Smoke Bomb Hill Dining Facility for the unit\'s 2009 Memorial Breakfast July 17. Staff Sgt. Michael A. Dickinson, who died July 17, 2006, while deployed with the 9th PSYOP Battalion to Ar Ramadi, Iraq, was honored during the breakfast. Dickinson's wife, Glorygrace, and four of their five children were in attendance. Capt. Eric Leetch, a chaplain with the 9th PSYOP Bn., said Dickinson sacrificed a lot when he died, but his family that has to deal with the loss of a loved one continues to sacrifice every day. Joel Sonnenberg, author of "Joel," brought his message of overcoming challenges to the Dickinson Family and members of the 4th PSYOP Group. In 1979, at the age of two, Joel Sonnenberg suffered burns to 85 percent of his body when a tractor trailer smashed into his family's car at a toll booth. At the Shriner's Burn Hospital in Boston, Joel underwent many skin grafts and spent months recovering before being released. During his life, Joel has been an inspiration to those around him. He's had many accomplishments including becoming an Eagle Scout, captain of his soccer team, Olympic torch bearer, and Discover Card National tribute award winner. These days, Sonnenberg travels as a minister and motivational speaker. "I always looked for strength in scripture," he said. "There's a verse in 2nd Samuel that says 'The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'" When asked why the Group's chaplains chose Joel to speak at an event like a memorial, Leetch said, "Life is about facing and overcoming challenges and no one exemplifies that idea more than Joel Sonnenberg. He has an authentic platform from which to speak to Soldiers about the possibility of facing, and overcoming, life's most difficult circumstances. He proves that the extraordinary is within everyone's grasp." To show the unit's appreciation for Joel's inspiring words, Col. Curtis Boyd, 4th PSYOP Group commander, gave Joel a certificate of appreciation, a unit coin, and welcomed Sonnenberg as an honorary member of the 4th PSYOP Group.