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Pancakes For Roger! – The Backstory

February 1st kicks off Combs & Company’s annual campaign to support the University of Missouri School of Law Veterans Clinic, which helps veterans and their families navigate the VA claims process and secure disability benefits when they are faced with obstacles along the way.  Combs & Company will make a donation to the Veterans Clinic for every pancake-loving picture you post on social media and use the hashtag #PancakesForRoger.

Many have asked how this campaign began.  It began with a what seemed to be a simple request by my father for some pancakes.  

My dad, Major General Roger E. Combs, served our great country for more than 39 years in three branches of the military (Marines, Army, and Air Force).  When he was coming to the end of his life, I was fortunate enough to return home to King City, MO from my NYC home to be present and help care for him.  Each morning we had a pretty specific routine as the early risers of the family.  I would go to the gym at 5am, return home around 6am to get ready for the day, and then help him have breakfast and get him prepped for his day.  One morning, as I came downstairs, he was setting the kitchen table for himself and I looked at him rather quizzically and asked what he was doing.  He looked at me and said, “I want pancakes for breakfast.”  I smiled at him as my heart broke inside.

Such a simple request was by this time impossible for my dad.  Ten years prior, my father was diagnosed with Agent Orange-related throat cancer, from exposure during his service as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam.  He’d beaten that cancer and enjoyed a relatively good ten years, but he relapsed twice, and his final treatments required him to have a feeding tube.  He was unable to eat solid foods – and my dad loved food – but he never complained.  He knew the journey he was on.  So his desire for pancakes became a rallying point for me and #PancakesForRoger became my way to honor his greatness.  I share this story as often as I can to help remind myself and others to enjoy the simple things in life, because you never know when they could be taken away. 

So every February, to show support to many veterans who will come to be in my father’s shoes, I issue a challenge for the month to have some “Pancakes for Roger.”  For each picture you post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter, and use the hashtag #PancakesForRoger, Combs & Company will make a donation in Maj. Gen. Combs’ name to the Veterans Clinic at the University of Missouri School of Law to help further their mission to support our veterans and their families.

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If you are looking to support the Mizzou Law Veterans Clinic in a deeper way, feel free to CLICK HERE to make a donation!



Tribute to my Father

Major General Roger E Combs (February 22, 1945 – August 22, 2018)

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Husband, Father, Grandpa, Brother, Son, Uncle, Friend, Mentor, Servant, General and Judge.  He’s gone by so many titles over the years.

He was born on the family farm in rural Stanberry, Missouri on February 22, 1945.  He was known for quoting a Senator who said, “When you’re born on a dairy farm, everything else is easy.”

He shared his successes with those he loved, like the incredible experience of his promotion party when he was given his 2nd Star (Major General).  He invited all his “circles” – family, church, courthouse, and military.  He had a Wikipedia page and hardly anyone in the family or King City knew about it.

This is how he lived.  He could talk to anyone.  No matter the successes he achieved, he never forgot he was that boy who was born on a farm and attended a one-room schoolhouse.  He was the son of H.H. and Ruby Fern.

He was a teacher.

This man taught me, “It’s important for you to be understood, but it’s more important for you to not be misunderstood.”  I think one of us kids quotes this weekly.

This man taught me to be independent and have a common knowledge of how to fix some things.  Then if all else fails, WD-40 and duct tape will fix almost anything.

This man taught me to parallel park between a horse trailer and a feed truck out on the Mule Shoe Ranch.  Living in NYC, this skill has become priceless.

But most importantly, this man taught me there are three major aspects of my life and he basically broke it down to me like this: “You have the person you are with, the place where you live, and the thing you do for a living.  If you’re happy with 3 out of 3 then you are living a golden life; but on any given day, if you can be happy in at least 2 of those aspects, you’re doing just fine.  But if you’re happy with only one or none, then get off your butt and do something about it.  Surround yourself with supportive people who “get” you; to whom you don’t have to explain yourself.  Live in a place that excites you and that cultivates who you are and who you want to be.  Choose to do something you love because invariably you’ll do it well.” He was a living example of this by showing us a deep love for our mother, passion for his career, and a fondness for his community.

His life was the definition of God, Family, and Country.  He had integrity, love, and sheer grit.  He loved his family, community, church, courthouse crew, and his brothers and sisters of the armed forces, with whom he served for more than 39 years.  The outpouring of stories and notes we have received reinforce the fact that he was not only our hero, but a hero to many.  He was the guy who would mentor young officers in the military; he made children feel safe when their home lives were in disarray during custody hearings; he would snow blow downtown King City to make sure the merchants were safe in the winter; he took the time to care when there were no witnesses.

He was a fighter.

Most recognizably as a CH-46 Helicopter pilot for the Purple Foxes in the US Marine Corp and until the very end, as he battled Agent Orange-related throat cancer for the past decade.  He never gave up and he never surrendered, until God took mercy on his soul on August 22, 2018.

To say this past year has changed me would be an understatement.  He helped make me who I am today.  I have been and will always be proud to call him my father and know that he still lives within each of the many lives he touched all over the world.  Over the past year of his life, I am so grateful that I was able to take the time, be quick to listen, fierce to love, slower to say yes to everything, and to find the serenity when I could.

You’ll always be in our hearts.

Susan