Posted on Mar 14, 2013 in Alumni News and News
Daniel Rooney, c’96, g’97, felt a calling, but it wasn’t until the flight home from his second tour in Iraq in 2006 that he knew he had to take action. After landing, as the plane sat at the gate in Grand Rapids, Mich., the pilot made an announcement: The body of Brock Bucklin, an Army corporal killed in Iraq, was on the plane. The pilot requested passengers remain on the plane until the casket had been unloaded and a small ceremony on the tarmac was complete.
Mesmerized by the ceremony, Rooney finally looked up. “I was devastated that more than half the people already emptied from the plane. It was an epiphany.” Rooney decided to dedicate his life to helping families of soldiers killed and injured in war. Rooney was a member of the Kansas golf team and is a part-time PGA professional. He also served as an F-16 pilot in the Air Force and Oklahoma Air National Guard. He combined his two loves– golf and service to country– in his volunteer venture.
Rooney created the Folds of Honor Foundation, and since its creation the foundation has raised $13 million for scholarships provided to more than 2,600 spouses and children of those killed in war. Rooney retired from duty in 2010 but remains on inactive ready reserve. “That United Airlines flight interrupted my normal, everyday life so I could tell the stories of these families and the sacrifices they’ve made,” Rooney says. “ I want to be able to educate their sons and daughters.”
–Adapted from story in Kansas Alumni magazine, No. 3, 2012, written by Terry Rombeck