Warrant Officer Erik Mounsey did three rotations in Iraq before he died on April 14, 1994 during a high profile mission. The pilot’s mission was to patrol the No Fly Zone in Northern Iraq. The helicopters secured the northern border of Iraq, flew in food and medical supplies and aided in talks between the Iraqi Kurds.

Mounsey’s daughter, Natasha, was only 2-years-old when he passed away. Natasha believes that one of the best parts about living in America is that we have the freedom to become who we want to be.

“My dad joined the military because he believed in America and the freedom for which it stands,” explained Natasha. “But let us make no mistake; we do not enjoy these freedoms because they are universally accepted as the right thing to do. We enjoy these freedoms because of men like my father and other soldiers, who are willing to defend our freedom.”

Natasha has always known that it was her father’s dream for her to go to college; although, her dream would be for him to have walked with her every step of the way. Natasha graduated in the summer of 2013 with honors from California State University of Northridge.

Children of Fallen Patriots helped me when no one else would. I am standing here today to thank all of you for not only myself, but for the other one million dependents that are aspiring to go to college. The gift that Children of Fallen Patriots has given me has been incredible and more than I could ever ask for. I really can’t thank everyone enough for helping me achieve my dreams and aspirations.

But what I can do is to do my best and make you proud and most importantly make my mom and dad proud.

The Military has a saying that “no one gets left behind.” Children of Fallen Patriots truly lives by these words.

I am proud to say that I have graduated from college. I know my father wasn’t there to see me graduate but I know he is watching from somewhere, and I hope that he is very proud me. I know that without the help of The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation that I would not be where I am today and I would not have accomplished the goal my father wished for me to achieve.

I truly believe that we don’t get to be who we are without the help of our soldiers. And for that, I will forever be thankful. Thank you.