Lockheed Martin has announced Staff Sgt. Robert Bartlett and Staff Sgt. Jay Fondren as the recipients of the 2017 Lockheed Martin Fighting Spirit Scholarship. For the second consecutive year Lockheed Martin has sponsored the scholarship program, an initiative providing wounded veterans opportunities to experience flying and sailing through two nonprofit organizations, Warrior Sailing Program and Able Flight.
"The Fighting Spirit Scholarship program is an opportunity for Lockheed Martin to directly support the warfighters who embody extraordinary courage and sacrifice," said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. "This program is intended to enhance the professional and personal growth of two individuals who represent the mission of the program and the mission of those who serve and defend our great nation."
Able Flight selected US Army veteran Staff Sgt. Robert Bartlett who was critically injured in Iraq in 2005 when his Humvee was struck by an explosive projectile, causing injuries to his face and hands, and the loss of one eye. After completing Able Flight's six-week flight school, held at Purdue University's Department of Aviation Technology, Bartlett will receive a pilot's license and earn his wings during a presentation at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow in July 2018.
"Words could never express my gratitude for the actions that Lockheed Martin has taken to help me and my family," Bartlett said. "The Fighting Spirit Scholarship means hope for a better future for me and always being able to provide for all my family's needs. This scholarship will change my life forever and give me a chance at a new life beyond my wounds."
Warrior Sailing Program selected US Army veteran Staff Sgt. Jay Fondren, a triple-amputee injured in Iraq in 2004 after an improvised explosive device struck his patrol vehicle. Fondren will earn a nationally recognized Basic Keelboat Sailing Certification after successful completion of the Warrior Sailing Program's Basic and Advanced Training programs.
"I feel greatly honored to receive the Fighting Spirit Scholarship," said Fondren. "I hope my example in life will motivate other wounded veterans to live life to the fullest. You can't let your disability keep you from doing what you want to do. You have to find a way to overcome it or get around it, especially when it comes to doing things with your family."
In addition to attending the training programs at no cost, each scholarship recipient and guest receives roundtrip flights to Fort Worth and a tour of the Lockheed Martin F-35 production facility, VIP tickets to the 2017 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl game and access to other exclusive bowl-related activities.
Both Able Flight and Warrior Sailing Program selected one candidate for the Fighting Spirit Scholarship from the pool of applicants who applied through their respective websites.