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Charities launched in soldier's memory

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Posted: Thursday, June 24, 2004 10:00 pm

Patrick McCaffrey's loved ones want to make sure his family and his fellow National Guardsmen are taken care of.

The 34-year-old Tracy resident, an Army National Guard specialist, was killed in an ambush north of Baghdad on Tuesday. A day after his family received the news, his mother put out a call for donations to bring laptops to her late son's battalion, and colleagues in Palo Alto worked to establish an education fund for his two young children.

"I'm going to keep up with the unit," said his mother, Nadia.

She said her only son reported two-hour long waits from the battlefield for computers to send e-mail and video-conference calls home over the Internet.

Earlier this year, Nadia McCaffrey started up a drive to buy a satellite phone for her son's Petaluma-based Alpha Company, a unit of the National Guard 579th Engineering Battalion in Santa Rosa.

She said she shifted her attention to getting the guardsmen laptops after the military nixed her satellite phone idea because of security concerns.

Nadia can be reached through Angel Staff, the Tracy nonprofit she runs to bring comfort to dying people.

"We think it is so important, her passion for helping," said Réne Gilmore, a Livermore resident whose husband, Michael Gilmore, is also a member of the Alpha Company. Gilmore said the unit had 103 guardsmen deployed for the mission.

A day after learning about his death, friends and family said Patrick was well-known for his dedication to keeping in touch with loved ones and his devotion to his children.

In Silicon Valley, colleagues at the repair shop where worked began putting together an education fund for the guardsman's children, 9-year-old Patrick Jr. and 2-year-old Janessa, almost as soon as they heard he had been killed.

Staff at Akins Collision Repair in Palo Alto established the Patrick McCaffrey Memorial Fund at a Palo Alto Citibank branch. Patrick was a manager and longtime employee of the shop.

"I don't know anyone who loved their kids and their life more," said Sharon Rupp, owner of the shop where Patrick had worked 13 years. "He was very driven just to provide the best for his family."

Marlene Cather, financial manager at Akins, said another reason Patrick enlisted in the National Guard on Sept. 12, 2001, was to earn education benefits to ensure his children would be able to go to college. He had been in and out of the country on guard missions for most of Janessa's life.

"That's kind of the worst part of the tragedy. He had so little time with his daughter," Cather said.

To contribute to Laptops for Iraq, contact Nadia McCaffrey at Nadiaiands@aol.com; or 839-9955.

Nadia McCaffrey also works with a nonprofit group called Angel Staff that helps people with terminal conditions. The organization is on the Web at http://www.angelstaff.org.">www.angelstaff.org">http://www.angelstaff.org.

To contribute to the memorial fund set up for Patrick's children: Patrick McCaffrey Memorial Fund, Citibank West, 2401 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306; or c/o Akins Collision Repair, 2901 Park Blvd.; Palo Alto, CA 94306.

Contact Karen Coleman at kcoleman@tracypress.com.

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