Neither veteran realized they had a common bond as they sat next to each other in the casino sharing their stories of deploying to Afghanistan.
Tyler Jeffries was in his wheel chair, a double amputee and a guest to attend Salute to the Troops 2015 in Las Vegas. Joseph “Booch” Buccini, was standing, telling Jeffries how he was a door gunner during his deployment.
“I showed Tyler my photo from Afghanistan with my unique flight helmet mask that had a unique skull pattern and he immediately recognized it and said – ‘Bro, you picked my team up and I remember that mask.’ But then he went on to let me know it was shortly after that flight that he was blown up,” recalls Booch.
Jeffries was struck by a command-wired improvised explosive device and was transported back to the U.S. He was undergoing physical therapy at Walter Reed Medical Center about a year after he lost his legs when the opportunity came for him to go to Salute to the Troops, a yearly event where the USO, American Airlines, MGM and other great sponsors work to bring wounded warriors and a guest for a four-day trip of a lifetime to Las Vegas.
At the time, Booch was working with NCOA Marketing Company, that transitioned in January to Still Serving Promos and remains a sponsor for Salute to the Troops.
“It is one of the many great sponsorship programs we have for our company,” Booch said. “The ability to ‘Pay it Forward’ to our men and women who serve and their families is vital to our mission. We are rewarded in so many ways every time we have the opportunity to support great events and now I have a new best friend also.”
Since 2015 when the two met, Booch and Tyler have stayed in contact and a new opportunity came up when Booch was able to invite Tyler to Helicopters to Heroes just a few months ago in Texas.
“When Booch invited me to go to the event it sounded awesome, but I had to let him know I avoid flying whenever possible, especially alone so I may not be able to make the trip,” Tyler explained to Booch over the phone. “That’s when he shocked me and told me he would drive from Florida to North Carolina and he would fly with me to the event. People just don’t do that kind of stuff anymore, but he did and we had a great four days in Texas.”
Still Serving Promos is a for profit company that sells promotional products, clothing, signage and almost anything a customer would want to have their logo on, but what makes them stand apart, according to Scoop Davis, CEO of Still Serving Promos, is the mission of “Paying it Forward” and he wasn’t surprised at all that Booch wanted to drive up to help Tyler make the trip.
At the event, Still Serving Promos won a rifle at the auction and Booch looked at Scoop and without a word spoken – just a head nod – Booch stood up and presented the rifle to Tyler on the spot to a loud ovation.
“I was shocked,” Tyler said. “When Booch and Scoop gave me the rifle after everything else they had already done in getting me to this great event I was overwhelmed to say the least. Still Serving Promos will always have a place in my heart and I am so glad I saw that photo in Vegas and now can call the man behind the mask my best friend.”