View Full Version : Military family support group seeks license plate

03-24-08, 06:50 AM
Military family support group seeks license plate
Monday, March 24, 2008
News staff writer

When a visitation was held last week for a Marine Reservist who died of injuries in a March 9 bus wreck, the mourners included his loved ones, fellow Marines and longtime friends.

Also on hand for Lance Cpl. David Miles' wake were three couples who have lost uniformed sons in the war in Iraq. They belong to a recently incorporated group, Alabama Gold Star Families, whose mission includes giving support to other families who lose uniformed loved ones in war or in peace.

"We're trying to be an active organization," said Marynell Winslow of Hoover, the organization's president.

The group's initial meeting was Feb. 24, 2007, at state American Legion headquarters in Montgomery. It is slated to meet May 10 at the same location.

So far, Gold Star group members have been to at least 15 military funerals or visitations around the state.

Winslow and her husband, George, lost their son, Marine Pfc. Ryan Winslow, to a bomb in Iraq on April 15, 2006. They have been to five funerals, including the Miles visitation in Madison. With them in Madison were Jerome and Brenda Murkerson of Adger, parents of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jerome Murkerson Jr., killed during his third Iraq tour last Oct. 1; and Mac and Lydia Love of Huntsville, parents of Army 1st Lt. Scott Love, killed June 7, 2006.

About 40 families belong to the Gold Star organization, which has applied for nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service. Once it gains that status, it wants to push for state approval of a distinctive Gold Star Family license plate.

"They're popping up in states all over the country," Winslow said. "We need to do this too."

A design that has met with approval from Alabama Gold Star group members has a light blue and yellow background and elements that include a gold star enclosed in a laurel, a trifolded burial flag, and a helmet resting atop an inverted assault rifle in a pair of combat boots. It was fashioned by Iraq veteran Scott Fisk, an assistant professor of art at Samford.

"We went through 36 revisions before we got to that point," Winslow said. "He was so patient. He would send them to me and then I would e-mail them out to 40 families ... and everybody would e-mail back their comments and I would try to put those together and we would e-mail ... back and forth and back and forth."

The helmet, rifle and boot portion of the design is similar to the memorial that stood outside the Winslow home after Ryan Winslow's death.

The license plate's design must meet a number of state requirements, and is subject to approval by the Alabama Legislature's Oversight Committee on License Plates. Once that approval is granted, the organization will have a year to pre-sell the plate to prospective buyers, who can pay $50 at their county license office. Once the number of advance buyers hits 1,000, the plate can be produced.

Selling the plate:

"The success of it really goes into the marketing effort," said Carla Snellgrove, spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue.

State Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, who helped organize the Gold Star group, said a key factor in selling the plate will be who would qualify as a Gold Star family member.

"I think that's (one) of the questions that have to be answered eventually," DeMarco said.

Anyone interested in the Gold Star group can contact Winslow at marynellwinslow@bellsouth.net.

E-mail: tgordon@bhamnews.com