Posted on February 14, 2012 by Mike Means

Last week we helped the President send out his First Monday Memo. However, there was an item I was to attach and just plain forgot. So here it is as a solo item. Please take a moment to read as I think many of you will find it worthwhile. My apologies to Dan Reeves who, on behalf of the Governor, asked me to send this out. This is what Dan sent:

We are helping with the construction on the Thunder Bird Chapel which is the Chapel for the 45th Infantry. It is currently being built at Camp Gruber . It is all volunteer and donations. The Governor office is really pushing this to be done before the troops get back. Please send out to our members to see who else might help. They can go to to read more.

We had 3,200 troops that were deployed although a few have been rotated home to meet the President's pull down. There are close to 2,200 in Afghanistan and 1,000 in northern Kuwait which were running patrols into southern Iraq before the pull out and are also ready reserve for response where needed.

These troops are in the thick of it and are performing a dangerous job. They are not serving in a support position but are the main force in their areas of operation. We have lost 14 as of last month and have over 400 that have qualified for the purple heart. That award is given for injuries received in a combat operation. That means one in five of our troops have been injured. They were home on their mid R&R over the last few months and their spirits were good and they are proud of what they are doing but they are ready to get home.

The Governor has committed to building this chapel for our troops. It has been tried before but was not successful. It is being built completely with donated dollars, material and labor from Oklahomans for the soldiers and their families.

There are no federal or state dollars going into this project.

We are on schedule to complete the chapel to include furniture and landscaping by April 2nd. The original budget estimate for the chapel was $1,650,000.00. That has increased to around $1,890,000.00. The increase is due to adding new pews, a fire sprinkler and alarm system that was not originally included since the chapel was below 12,000 sf and some internal changes and upgrades. We have raised in cash donations, gifts in kind, discounted material and donated labor right at $ 1,600,000.00. Between the members of the Associated General contractors, Land Mark Fine Homes and Richardson Homes, their combined contribution to the project is around $ 480,000.00.

We are in the final push. Dry wall is up, taping and bedding is progressing and should be 100% complete early next week. Painters will start on sheetrock areas next week early and tile should start in the wet areas next week. The trim carpenters will start the beams and wainscot in the sanctuary next week.

There are items that I have not gotten donated or discounted yet or have not had time to go locate yet. We have the wood floors and plywood base floor. We have cabinet tops, carpet, toilet partitions. We have electrician needs as far as labor. We have a lead electrician on the site and a few days donated by volunteers but could use a few more days. We still need grab bars, shelves in some areas, furniture for the chaplains offices. All of the landscaping materials to fill the landscape architect plan. The concrete for the sidewalks and labor to form and finish it.

What I have ask all to do is to give what help they can, let me know what that is and I will find the needs to cover the rest. I am working with a company on the toilet partitions at this time. I am working with a prison vo-tech on the sidewalks. Richardson Homes is furnishing all of the cabinets and I will go look for tops later this week. I am working with some of the AGC contractors on some of the other needs.

What I would like is for the Oklahoma Homebuilders to adopt the wood floors and sub floor as a group. There are approx. 8,100 sf of wood floor. It is clear finished oak, 6". If they can handle this item it will help me greatly. The home builders have more contacts and more experience in wood floors than any other group. I have some money in budget for this item although it is not a full amount. But everything I can save from that will be able to go to a different need. If the Oklahoma Homebuilders would take this and then let me know what they need from me than it will go along ways to getting the chapel done and ready for service when these troops return.

We know they have been hit hard and seen things that they may need help with when they get back. We know this from what is happening with other returning troops. We just need to be sure we have the chaplains offices ready and the sanctuary ready when the troops need it.

If you would like to help, please contact Dan Reeves ( or Gerry Shepherd (

Thank you.

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