Alaska Dispatch News
November 16, 2015
The military quickly adopted the program, and it has since been replicated across the globe, in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Israel and Germany, among others, Carroll said.
In this Jan. 17, 2012 photo, Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, known as TAPS, poses in her office in Washington. Carroll is being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, as part of her advocacy on behalf of grieving military families. Jacquelyn MartinWASHINGTON -- The White House announced plans Monday to grant a Presidential Medal of Freedom to Bonnie Carroll, founder of an organization that provides support to grieving military families -- and the star of a true Alaska love story.
Carroll was working in the White House in 1988 when three California gray whales trapped in Arctic ice garnered international attention. President Ronald Reagan’s interest in the plight led the West Wing staffer to meet her future husband, Alaska Army National Guard Col.Tom Carroll. Their love story was later featured in the 2012 film “Big Miracle.”
In 1992, after he and Bonnie were married, then-commander of the Alaska Army National Guard and lifelong Alaskan Tom Carroll died in an Army C-12 plane crash in the Chilkat Mountains -- along with seven other top Guard leaders -- en route to Juneau. Tom Carroll's father, Maj. Gen. Thomas P. Carroll, had died 28 years earlier in a plane crash at Valdez while providing relief work after the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, Bonnie Carroll said.
Carroll channeled her grief into action, and following her husband's burial at Fort Richardson National Cemetery in Anchorage, she founded the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which provides support for those impacted by the death of a member of the U.S. military.
Bonnie Carroll will be honored with the nation's highest civilian honor next week for her work after her husband's death.
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