I always get asked why I do the things I do for our military and what drives me to keep going, so to answer the many questions I will give you a little history and a look at what makes me tick.
My name is Dave Murphy and I was born in a small town in Newfoundland called Grand Falls. My parents were Salvation Army Officers so we moved every two to three years which was tough growing up because as soon as you began to make good friends it was time to move. If anyone is familiar with the Salvation Army it is moulded after military rankings and I was raised by very loving parents who started as Cadets, on to Captains and retired as Majors in a different Army of sorts. I hold this up bringing responsible for my big heart as being around giving and charity my whole life installed some very good values within me.
When I was seventeen years old I was involved in a incident and came very close to dying. Being attacked by three men wielding a knife and having one wound miss my heart by inch changes how you look at things. You begin to take nothing for granted and gain a new appreciation of life. I always thought to myself there is a reason I was kept alive that night and looking back now at all the people I’ve met and friends I’ve made though this, it has become very clear to me.
In January of 2007 I joined the Social network site Facebook and started searching for groups that "Support Our Troops" I joined several of them and started talking with a few soldiers that were currently deployed in Afghanistan, they had informed me that they were having a cup of Tim Horton's. I was excited to hear that they had one over there but, shocked to hear that they had to pay for it. This caused me to create my first group called Tim Horton’s for our Troops, and was blown away that in just a few weeks the group had gotten over 2000 members. People quickly got involved and with the help of the Military Family Resource Center in Toronto, they gave me an address where people could send them. I was then contacted by City TV in Toronto who wanted to help us out by doing a story. After this story aired, the numbers continued to grow in the group and stories then followed on Radio Stations and news media all over the country.
We then had several schools purchase Tim Horton's certificates write messages on the back to soldiers and send them over for us. To date we have sent over $30,000 in Tim Horton's gift certificates and people are still sending them to our troops.
Starting this group had allowed me to meet a lot of soldiers, family members and others who have become close friends, many of which I met in person. One Military mother that I met I owe a lot of thanks too. Her and I have become very close and she gives me a lot of motivation to come up with new ideas. Her name is Kay Kennedy; she is the mother of fallen soldier Pte. Kevin Vincent Kennedy, 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment based in Gagetown, N.B. Pte. Kevin Vincent Kennedy died April 8, 2007, while serving his country in Afghanistan. I promised Kay I would always do what I could to keep the memory of our fallen heroes alive and to this day I believe I have kept my part of that by making tribute videos and making sure people remember the names and not just numbers.
I then created a few more groups on Face Book such as; "Operation Pen Pal", and "Send a message to a soldier Group" The next successful group was called "Petition to Canada post to issue a Support Our Troops stamp." I thought it would be nice to feature a stamp honouring our brave men and women currently serving, and those that have given their lives in any operation around the world. This would include our current soldiers and also WW1 & WW2 vets and so on. This group also picked up some serious steam and gained some media attention, VOCM Newfoundland, CTV Calgary, CityTV Calgary, The Calgary sun and a few others. I started this in October of 2008. The petition grew fast and when it hit 6000 signatures online, I then requested members to write letters to Canada post and request that they wanted to see this type of stamp released. Shortly after this started I received good news in my email, In October of 2009 Canada Post will be releasing a stamp called "Honouring the Sacrifice of Canadian War Heroes" I would love to buy a few and mail a letter to the numerous people that said "This will never happen" or it takes years and years to get a stamp put out by Canada post, I will be purchasing many of them, and mailing soldiers letters with this stamp proudly displayed in the corner.
I have the privilege of knowing another mother of a soldier, her son was deployed in Afghanistan Feb of 2008, and she was worried about him. I introduced her to some of the other mothers on my Facebook friends list and she informed me about Red Fridays. Red Fridays stands for (Remember Everyone Deployed) and it encourages people to wear red on Fridays in support of our men and women serving overseas. She and I soon became online friends and we chatted often. Her son was also a member of my “Tim Horton’s For our troops group”. Sadly, in 2008 her son was killed in Afghanistan by a road side bomb. Through knowing her, I felt like I had lost a friend also. I attended his funeral in Calgary and had the wonderful opportunity to meet many of his friends and who I also have become close too. Being at that military funeral was something I will never forget as long as I live. Seeing the flag draped caskets on the news is one thing, and you may feel sad, but bearing witness to the fallen taking the last journey down the isle of the church, and hearing his brothers in arms and close friends speak of what kind of person he was had an affect on me that is hard to put in to words.
On December 5th, 2008 my website coffee4ourtroops.com had been hacked and shut down by a group of people in a foreign region claiming they found security faults in my website. I was devastated when I had seen this. Almost two years of work, photos from soldiers, guest book messages, all gone, I was almost ready to quit. I talked to Kay Kennedy again and she told me the things I do for the soldiers and their families mean too much and that I had to think about the soldiers who lose their friends while serving. They don't quit, they get up the next day and have to soldier on and that is what I did. I was determined to get it back in some way.
January of 2009, I was watching a video on Face Book, by Julian Austin entitled "Red and White" one line of the song hit me hard and it said; "Do we take the time to thank a soldier for everything they do" This gave me a idea to create a cause on the applications page called "Thank A Soldier". I noticed the membership was growing at a fast rate. People loved the idea and quickly began recruiting their friends. Within a few weeks there were about 20,000 members. Very exciting, I was noticing a lot of people posting photos of their loved ones without releasing vital information which is good. Family members began talking with one another, making connections and becoming new friends. I then spoke with the lady that donated me the web space for Coffe4ourtroops and came up with the idea to create this site thankasoldier.net which I know will be a big success.
At this moment there are 4,000,000+ members on the group. I have received emails from schools wanting to write letters to soldiers and starting projects for showing our men and women we support them. I have been offered payments for ad space on this site which I have declined as I don't want to be receiving anything from this except the satisfaction that comes from knowing I'm doing my part to make the lives of our service men a little easier by giving them a taste of home with the coffee site, and thanking a soldier every time I see one.
I want to thank all the servicemen & women serving all around the world for giving me the ability to be able to type this, walk down the street without having to dodge landmines or rockets. Thank you to the families of our soldiers who stand by them while they are on tours and also make a sacrifice. Thank you to the members of not only the Canadian Forces, but to the USA, Britain, and other countries that join forces with our guys to keep us safe over here.
Thank you for checking out this webpage and being part of this amazing cause.