NEW ULM - Schell's owner and brewmaster Ted Marti was among 17 Minnesota civic leaders who received a national award for supporting Minnesota National Guard troops and their dependents Nov. 20 in Washington, D.C.
It's all part of the Serving Our Troops program, something the Ted and Jodi Marti family has been active with for years.
They became interested in the St. Paul-based, non-profit, volunteer program after their sons Franz and Kyle joined the Army.
Since 2004, they've been part of the Serving Our Troops program that served more than 40,000 steak dinners to soldiers and their dependents in Iraq, Kosovo, Camp Shelby Mississippi and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
On Monday, Ted Marti will fly from Minneapolis to Atlanta, Dubai, Kuwait City and Basra, Iraq with a group of St. Paul restaurant and business owners, police and fire department officials as well as veteran Twin Cities musician Brian (GB) Leighton.
He'll spend several days in Iraq, helping serve thousands of steak dinners to soldiers hungry for a slice of home as Christmas approaches.
Marti looks forward to seeing soldier Al Bauer of St. George in Iraq. Bauer's wife Ann works at August Schell Brewery.
"It'll be interesting and fun. We just do this because we like to," Ted Marti said. "It's one of the most gratifying things we've ever done. Everybody really appreciates it. Many things in life aren't really appreciated by people, but believe me, this program is."
While Ted is overseas, Jodi Marti and son Jace Marti will help serve about 15,000 steak dinners to families of deployed soldiers on Saturday, Dec. 12 at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul.
Local musicians will perform during the St. Paul dinner that will be linked via live international video so soldiers and families can connect with each other.
Private First Class Franz Marti is serving with the 10th Mountain Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, watching for insurgents in one of Afghanistan's smallest posts, atop a 7,000-foot mountain.
Soldiers sometimes debate about whom gets to hike up the mountain with body armor and heavy rucksacks then enjoy a spectacular, 360-degree view of everything below including watching the sun and moon rise.
They sleep on small bunk beds, eat MREs (packaged Meals, Ready to Eat) and shower with water bottles.
Marti, 21, was featured in a story about soldiers on the mountain in the Sept. 14 edition of the New York Daily News.
Injured in a bomb blast earlier this year, Franz is doing well lately, according to his parents.
He's scheduled to come home by the end of the year.
Sergeant Kyle Marti, 25, an Army Ranger, is in Spanish language immersion with Special Forces (Green Beret) Training at Fort Bragg, N.C.
He was home for Thanksgiving and plans to come home for Christmas.
To donate, participate, volunteer or learn more about the Serving Our Troops program, visit www.servingourtroops.com
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).