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Folds Of Honor

Being built with donated equipment, labor, time and money, Fold of Honor’s new headquarters will give it significantly more space. The organization provides scholarships to spouses and children of military members disabled or killed during service.
Being built with donated equipment, labor, time and money, Fold of Honor’s new headquarters will give it significantly more space. The organization provides scholarships to spouses and children of military members disabled or killed during service.
(Left to right) Kirby-Smith Machinery’s Dan Rutz, Isaac Lawrence, Rebecca McNatt and Andrew Clouse meet with Creekmore Consulting’s Larry Creekmore, Tri-Star Construction’s Mark Huff and Associated Building Contractors (ABC) of Oklahoma President and CEO John Smaligo at the site of the new Folds of Honor headquarters.
(Left to right) Kirby-Smith Machinery’s Dan Rutz, Isaac Lawrence, Rebecca McNatt and Andrew Clouse meet with Creekmore Consulting’s Larry Creekmore, Tri-Star Construction’s Mark Huff and Associated Building Contractors (ABC) of Oklahoma President and CEO John Smaligo at the site of the new Folds of Honor headquarters.
Colonel (Ret) Nick Nichols, Executive Vice President of Operations and Relationships, Folds of Honor
Colonel (Ret) Nick Nichols, Executive Vice President of Operations and Relationships, Folds of Honor
Operator Alex Grover pushes dirt with an intelligent Machine Control D51EXi-24 dozer with integrated GPS.
Operator Alex Grover pushes dirt with an intelligent Machine Control D51EXi-24 dozer with integrated GPS.
Operator Alex Grover
Operator Alex Grover
Fourteen years ago, as Lieutenant Colonel Dan Rooney’s flight home from his second tour of Iraq was landing, he heard the pilot announce that the remains of a deceased military service member were on board. He watched as the twin brother of the fallen corporal escorted the flag-draped coffin to where family members had gathered. Among them was the soldier’s young son.

The somber occasion not only moved Rooney deeply, but was the catalyst to his commitment to take care of those directly affected. Within a few months, the F-16 fighter pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard had put the process in motion to found Folds of Honor, of which he is now CEO.

“It would have been very easy to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and move on,” said Retired Air Force Colonel Nick Nichols, who is Folds of Honor’s Executive Vice President of Operations and Relationships. “Dan decided to take action to provide educational support to the children and spouses of military members disabled or killed during their service. It started with a grassroots effort, which was a golf event, and has grown from there.”

To date, the organization has provided 29,000-plus scholarships worth more than $145 million. The son of the fallen service member on Rooney’s flight home was the first recipient. Funding comes from various avenues, including memorials and tributes, online and mail-in donations, and events put on by the organization. There are also donations from monthly “Squadron” pledges of $13. That amount was chosen because it signifies the number of times an American flag is folded at a fallen service member’s burial.

Excited to Be Involved
Last year, Folds of Honor broke ground on new, larger headquarters just steps away from its original building, which was constructed about 10 years ago. Both buildings are located on the campus of Patriot Golf Club in Owasso, Oklahoma, near Tulsa. Folds of Honor also has cottages at the golf club, which are rented out, providing additional funding.

“Every year we have been blessed to grow in revenue, allowing us to increase the number of scholarships we are able to grant,” stated Nichols. “Our goal is to continue that trend. However, with growth comes the need for additional staff to meet our commitments, and we eventually ran out of space. The new facility will have 10 times more square footage with greater amenities than we currently have, and there are plans to turn that original building into another cottage.”

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The new building is expected to be completed in early 2022. Just like the construction of the original headquarters, nearly all of the design work, labor, time and materials are being donated by several contractors – some of whom were involved in the first. The Associated Building Contractors (ABC) of Oklahoma coordinated the efforts on both projects.

“After hearing Lieutenant Colonel Rooney speak about his vision for Folds of Honor, we decided to help with the original, and when they contacted us about the new building there was no hesitation to be involved again,” stated John Smaligo, President and CEO of ABC of Oklahoma. “The same goes for our members who work in this area. More than 100 of them stepped forward to participate in the project, and many more have donated dollars. They are excited and honored to be a part of it.”

Among the volunteers is Creekmore Consulting, LLC, who is overseeing the new headquarters as the acting superintendent – coordinating contractors and suppliers.

“Some of the contractors are serious competitors, but that all gets put aside for this,” said Creekmore Consulting Owner Larry Creekmore. “One of the unique things about the project is that there was an initial plan, but it’s also a design-build, so there is some flexibility based on the services that each contractor can offer.”

Donated Dozer Helps Reach Target Grade Faster
Tri-Star Construction provided service and labor for the first headquarters and is donating on a similar scale for the new project. The heavy civil contractor performed clearing and initial site prep last fall and earlier this year came back for bulk earthwork and subbase installation. About 3,000 cubic yards of export was called for, with a similar amount of import needed.

“We have stayed involved with Folds of Honor for the past decade,” stated Tri-Star Construction Owner Mark Huff, whose office is located about five miles away. “This is a passion project for us. I can’t think of a better organization to give back to. When John from ABC called, we didn’t think twice. It was a matter of, ‘How can we help?’”

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The response was the same when Huff reached out to Kirby-Smith Machinery Territory Manager Dan Rutz about a machine donation. Kirby-Smith is also an ABC of Oklahoma member.

“Mark asked me and Kirby to be involved in the first push. Of course, the answer was yes the first time and was also yes this time,” said Rutz. “Kirby-Smith donated equipment then, and we knew we had to be involved again.”

“We had a similar conversation 10 years ago when Tri-Star was involved with the construction of the first Folds of Honor building,” said Huff. “I knew Dan would be in again because it’s a great cause. We have been doing business together for 25 years, and he and Kirby have always been great resources for things like this – and for equipment and service in general.”

Huff and Rutz decided a Komatsu intelligent Machine Control (iMC) D51EXi-24 Dozer with integrated GPS would be a good choice. “The first time around intelligent machines didn’t exist,” Rutz noted. “We liked the idea of using one this time because plans can be uploaded to the machine, and the operator can basically get in and go. Staking and surveying are limited, so there is a cost savings, which is helpful to Tri-Star, as it is donating its time and labor.”

Tri-Star cleared trees and stripped topsoil for initial site prep last fall. Earlier this year, it provided bulk earthwork that included multiple depths of cut, as well as installation of select fill and base materials.

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“It was easy to get set up and running,” stated Operator Alex Grover. “Our survey crew put up the base station and within five minutes I was cutting to grade. The machine knows what to do based on the plans and where it is in relation to finish grade. The savings go beyond staking and surveying because you are not overcutting and having to replace dirt or handle it multiple times. You also don’t lose production time putting up and taking down masts and cables.”

Rebecca McNatt, Kirby-Smith Machinery Director of Construction Technology, and her team of technology solutions experts help customers navigate technology, such as iMC equipment, and incorporate it into their operations.

“The ability to use automatics from grass to grade, with features such as proactive dozing control, speeds up production and increases efficiency,” said McNatt. “It is shown to significantly cut project times – in some cases, by half. It’s easy to use, so even novice operators can be productive quickly. We were excited when Dan told us about this project because we know how much it is helping Tri-Star and Folds of Honor reach their goals faster.”

Nichols said he appreciates everything all of the ABC of Oklahoma members have done and continue to do for Folds of Honor.

“ABC and its members are incredibly generous to donate their time and money to our cause,” said Nichols. “That allows us to use the foundation’s money for what is most needed – providing education funds.”

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