Golf tournament in memory of US Army Ranger Sgt. Alessandro Plutino draws hundreds
Lori M. Nichols / Gloucester County Times
Inaugural Honoring Sandrino’s Sacrifice Fund Golf Outing, May 4, 2012 gallery (13 photos)
MANTUA TWP. — Pitman Golf Course welcomed 240 players on Friday — its largest crowd ever — for the inaugural golf outing in the Honoring Sandrino’s Sacrifice Fund, an event dedicated to the memory of U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. Alessandro “Sandrino” Plutino who was killed in action in Afghanistan last August.
The double shotgun tournament — with one shift beginning at 8 a.m. and another at 1:30 p.m. — closed the county course to non-participants for the whole day.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the 1/75 Sua Sponte Foundation, which supports the men of the 1st Ranger Battalion and their families, concentrating on the needs of those wounded or killed in the line of duty. Proceeds from this and future events will also benefit special operations programs and an upcoming project at Pitman High School, from which Plutino graduated in 2001.
“I am so amazed. I really am,” said Plutino’s mother, Dianne Hammond, looking out over the crowd. “When a friend of ours thought this up and got the ball rolling, he said we’d have to have two flights, and I didn’t believe him. But we actually had to turn people away. There’s been a remarkable outpouring of support.”
Hammond said her family chose Sua Sponte Foundation as the event’s main beneficiary because it “takes care of the battalion Sandrino belonged to,” from helping families of wounded Rangers to be by their side in recovery, to taking care of families of the fallen, to caring for a “beautiful” Rangers’ memorial.
Those who wish to donate to the foundation and other organizations through the Honoring Sandrino’s Sacrifice Fund can visit www.honoringsandrinossacrificefund.com. Upcoming events will be listed on that website as well.
“We’d really like to make this an annual event,” said Hammond. “I think the golf course [management] was impressed, so we hope they’ll want to have us back.”
Plutino’s cousin, Mike MacGuigan, said the turnout for the event was “unbelievable.”
“Although we should’ve expected it, because there was such a huge outpouring of support after what we went through,” he said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing this again and other events as well. I think Sandrino’s sister Brenna is planning a 5K, and we’ll probably do a beef and beer when his battalion returns home.”
MacGuigan said the tournament was especially meaningful because proceeds will go to “a really great cause.” Asked what his cousin would’ve thought of the turnout, MacGuigan said Plutino probably wouldn’t understand why so many people showed up.
“He’d probably say, as he always did, that he was just doing his job,” his cousin offered.
Golfer Dave Ermer came all the way from Savannah, Ga., for the event, but he’s no stranger to traveling for the Rangers.
“My wife and I bought breakfast for a bunch of Rangers one morning and found that they were really great guys,” said Ermer. “We started helping them and raised $65,000 for a Ranger ball for 1,200 people. After that, they made me an honorary member. Then one day they told me I’d be president of the Ranger Memorial. We raised $300,000 for that, but what resulted would’ve cost over $1 million because so many people donated supplies and services. Savannah is such a great military town.”
Ermer has stayed involved with the Rangers ever since, taking them fishing, golfing, hunting — anything to make life better for them while they serve. In a couple of weeks, he’ll be taking a big group of Rangers’ wives out to dinner.
“I’m always around,” he said, with a laugh. “I’m 77 years old and I work out at the Ranger gym. They all know me.”
Sadly, Ermer has also attended 11 Ranger funerals, including Plutino’s.
“I can afford the time and travel to support them,” he said. “And with all of these things, I get back so much more than I give. I get to go drink a beer with heroes.”
Ermer got to know Plutino’s family when he was in town for the funeral. He said the golf outing they put together was terrific.
“They should be proud of what they’ve done here,” he said. “Planning something this big is really hard.”
State Sen. Fred Madden of Washington Township thanked all of the tournament’s attendees for their support of the Plutinos as well as all veteran and active-duty families.
“The funds raised today will help support families of foreign war veterans, special operations veterans and those who are still serving,” said Madden. “These men and women who served were children in our schools. They saluted the flag. From a very young age, Sandrino knew what American freedom meant. His family recognized that commitment and sacrifice as he continued volunteering to return to service. Today is a great day. While you’re golfing and having a great time, you’re also giving Sandrino’s family partnership and encouragement to continue keeping his sacrifice alive.”
Contact Jessica Driscoll at email@example.com.
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