To many Americans, the Navy SEALS killed in a helicopter attack in Afghanistan on Aug. 6 are heroes, Mooresville mom Suzanne Vogel said. Her five children also knew them as Daddies and friends.
Vogel's husband retired from the Naval Special Warfare community a year ago and knew many of those who died when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by a Taliban insurgent downed their Chinook helicopter.
The 22 SEALS were among 30 Americans and eight Afghans killed on a combat mission.
After retiring from the Naval Special Warfare community, Vogel's husband took a job in Mooresville a year ago, and the family moved from Virginia.
For security reasons, Suzanne Vogel said, she can't name her husband or describe his previous work, but she said he was so close to many of those killed that he has attended their funerals.
The couple's children also knew many of the men, their wives and kids.
The Vogels' three youngest children, Alexandra, who turns 7 on Oct. 13, and her brothers Hunter, 9, and Austin, 14, wanted to do something to thank the fallen and their families.
They worked together on artwork for a patriotic sticker that they're distributing in the Mooresville area, including at this Friday's 7:30 p.m. home football game at Lake Norman High School.
The team has worn the stickers on the backs of their helmets since opening night. Austin Vogel is a freshman at the school who plays defensive end .
The family will give the stickers away but hope residents will give them a tax-deductible donation to the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, which assists the widows and children of dead and wounded SEALS .
The stickers, which measure about 21/2 by 31/2 inches, read: "U.S. Navy SEALS America's Team." say . The children colored the words blue against a backdrop of red and white stripes.
Between the words "U.S. Navy Seals" and "America's Team" is a gold star representing the fallen. The Trident SEALS insignia is depicted in the star.
Suzanne Vogel and her children also set up tables recently at Vinnie's Sardine & Raw Bar on Williamson Road, Point Blank Range on N.C. 150 East and Terrell Country Store in Terrell to distribute the stickers. Kiosks remain at Point Blank Range and Terrell Country Store.
The three Vogel children gave their allowances to the project plus "all the money in my wallet," Hunter said.
Josh Richards, who drives the No. 51 truck in the NASCAR truck series, happened upon the family's table at Vinnie's and is having his team print a thousand or so more of the stickers.
Michael Annett, who drives the No. 62 car in the NASCAR Nationwide series, put one of the stickers on his car for the Aug. 26 race at Bristol, Tenn.