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26th Anniversary 

Clearing the Path Gala

THANK YOU FOR CELEBRATING WITH US!

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Thank you for joining us for the 26th Anniversary Clearing the Path Gala!

It is thanks to you, our sponsors, partners, donors, board, and volunteers,

that MLI has continued our lifesaving humanitarian work year after year.

Thank you for celebrating with us on this momentous evening. 

Lifetime Achievement Award: General Gordon R. Sullivan, US Army (Ret.)
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Thank you for the Memories!

This year's Gala featured amazing honorees, presenters, performers, speakers, and a silent auction: 

Co-Hosts: 

MG (Ret.) Robert "Bo" Dyess

Chairman, MLI

COL (Ret.) Perry Baltimore 

Vice-Chairman, MLI

Presenters: 

Treefa Aziz

Mark Anarumo 

Susan Dilday

Sherri Goodman 

Kelly Matanin

Voice of God: 

Jordan Powell 

Entertainment: 

The Children's Chorus of Washington

Keynote Speaker: 

Deputy Assistant Secretary Rachel Schiller 

US Department of State, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Programs and Operations Bureau of Political-Military Affairs 

The 2023 Gala Silent Auction Presented Artwork by Azerbaijani Artist Abol Bahadori and a Yemeni Bazaar:

Bahadori has kindly donated his majestic artwork; all proceeds from art sales will go toward the sponsorship of a mine detection dog in Azerbaijan. 

View the art pieces in the Azerbaijani Art Store. 

Landmine survivors in Yemen have handmade clothing, purses, jewelry, and more.

All proceeds from the sale of Yemeni items will go to the woman who made them.

View these handmade treasures in the Yemeni Bazaar. 

Items may be purchased at the Azerbaijani Art Store and the Yemeni Bazaar Online Store: 

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Thank you to our 26th Anniversary
Gala Sponsors: 

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Congratulations to the
2023 Honorees: 

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Explosive Detection Dog Team of the Year:
Sajed Abdulhameed Majeed and EDD Marschall


The 2023 Explosive Detection Dog Team of the Year Award honors a very special team from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Marschall, a 7-year old Belgian Shepherd, was generously donated to the Ministry of Peshmerga's (MoP) K9 Unit in 2018 by CHAMPS students at Glenelg Country School in Maryland. Named after the Marschall family, long-time supporters of the Marshall Legacy Institute, Marschall's career is marked by his exceptional ability to detect explosives and IEDs. His large size and admirable work ethic have earned him the nickname "king" of the K9 unit. 

Sajed, Marschall's dedicated handler, has been a crucial part of the Peshmerga forces for eight years, with four of those years spent fighting against ISIS. Their inseparable bond and strong work ethic have made them the most sought-after K-9 team for Peshmerga operations. During a counter-ISIS operation led by U.S. and Peshmerga Forces last May, Marschall's remarkable skills came to the forefront as he located a hidden bomb along a road, saving over 50 lives and earning the team a Certificate of Achievement from the U.S. Consulate in Erbil. EDD Marschall and Sajed's work to locate explosive remnants left by ISIS has brought safety to Kurdish villages such as Jalal Agha, Palani, Gawra, and Khadr Jija, among many others. 

 

Survivor's Assistance Award:
John Gallina



John Gallina, a Statesville, North Carolina native, initially served in the National Guard before transitioning to a career as a General Contractor. His life took a profound turn when he was deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Sustaining injuries during a landmine accident led to John to receive the Purple Heart for his courageous actions in combat. 

Returning to civilian life, John re-immersed himself in the construction industry and co-founded Purple Heart Homes in 2008 with a fellow veteran. Their mission, to support veterans, culminated in completing their 1,000th Purple Heart Home. John's dedication and leadership earned him recognition on the cover of TIME magazine in August 2011 as part of the The New Greatest Generation. Alongside four other Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, John was celebrated for bringing his leadership lessons from the battfeild back to the home front. John is also the co-author of "Wounded Homecoming: The Uphill Journey of Wounded Veterans from Battlefield to Homefront." 

When not immersed in his philanthropic endeavors, John enjoys reading, working on classic cars, and spending cherished moments with his wife, Cori-Anne, and their three children. 

 

Lifetime Achievement Award:
General Gordon R. Sullivan, U.S. Army (Ret.)


General Gordon R. Sullivan, founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Marshall Legacy Institute, is a distinguished leader with a remarkable career. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, he embarked on a journey that led to over 36 years of dedicated service in the Army. He culminated his uniformed service as the 32nd Chief of Staff- the Army's senior general officer- and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Following his retirement from the Army in 1995, he continued his tireless advocacy for Soldiers and their families by playing a pivotal role in establishing the National Museum of the United States Army. 

Inspired by the legacy of General George C. Marshall and his commitment to nations affected by conflict, General Sullivan founded the Marshall Legacy Institute. General Sullivan's service extends beyond MLI, as he has chaired the Board of Trustees of Norwich University and serves on several advisory boards and councils. 

General Sullivan's extensive contributions have been recognized with prestigious awards, including the AUSA 2016 George Catlett Marshall Award and the West Point Association of Graduates' Sylvanus Thayer Award. Today, he resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with his wife Lori.

 

"Marija Trlin" Survivor of the Year Award:
Goran Dizdarevic


Goran's inspiring journey began in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Bosnian War, a time fraught with landmines. Tragedy struck in 1993 when, at the age of 12, he fell victim to a landmine. Despite enduring 15 days of painful surgeries in a bid to save his leg, amputation eventually became the only option. For Goran, the relief came when he awoke on June 4th to find that the amputation had been carried out, marking the end of his suffering and the beginning of his resilience. 

With his first prosthesis after seven months, Goran saw it as his gateway to a normal, active life. His unwavering determination led him to become an engineer and IT expert, participating in various sports like snowboarding, skiing, motorcycling, tennis, and running. Thanks to MLI's CHAMPS Bosnia program, Goran received crucial prosthetic support, allowing him to pursue his love for sports. Goran's compelling story, shared during a visit from the U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina Michael J. Murphy, serves as a testament to the limitless potential of those living with amputations, inspiring others to overcome their disabilities and chase their dreams. 

 

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