The soldiers changed, the officers changed, the wars changed and Anne Cash remained.
Army National Guard troops from York County and surrounding areas went to wars, leaving families and Anne Cash remained to help them.
Now Anne Cash is looking at her own war - and cancer is the bitter foe.
Cash, the longtime volunteer leader of the Family Readiness Group for the 178th Army National Guard unit is fighting lung cancer. She has undergone chemotherapy and radiation and spent weeks in the hospital. She vows to beat it - as she beat all odds when doing so much for soldiers and families.
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“I’m fighting,” Cash said. “Like our soldiers did. And like their families did. They never gave up either.”
Cash’s generosity seems to have no bounds. A longtime volunteer at the Fort Mill American Legion and other veterans service groups - her husband, David, is Vietnam-era veteran - Cash kicked into high gear days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and never looked back. Her service is simply unmatched.
She and others started the Family readiness Group when the area guardsmen were called to duty and sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. She started a food pantry for families, collected money for bills, found volunteers to cut lawns and more. When the unit was mobilized before Christmas a decade ago, Cash found sponsors to pay for the soldiers to get home for the holidays.
Cash, whose regular job was at Ford Mill Ford, coordinated the departure ceremonies and coming home events for years. If she had to cook the food herself she did.
She decorated the armory a hundred times. Her phone would ring at 3 a.m. and a military wife with three kids and a husband in Afghanistan or Iraq was broke and despondent, Anne Cash was at the house with love and hugs and money and food and hope.
“She served everyone else before herself,” said Leanne Pressley, wife of a 178th soldier and another bulwark in the family web of assistance. “No one, nobody, has dedicated themselves more to the soldiers around here, or their families, than Anne Cash.”
She had Valentine and Christmas events for soldiers kids and organized yard sales and more to raise money so that soldier families were cared for. When soldiers had house fires and other crises, she collected thousands of dollars. She organized school collections, community collections, church collections.
When the 178th came back from Afghanistan the last time in 2013, the then-commander of the unit, Col. Corol Dobson, called Anne Cash’s devotion to the soldiers and their families “phenomenal.”
In 2015, when all the soldiers were finally home, floods hit the Midlands and coast and Cash organized collections of relief supplies at Fort Mill Ford.
Fighting cancer, like all fights, costs money. Pressley and others have organized a benefit for Oct. 15, from 4 to 10 p.m at the Rock Hill armory. There will be music and barbecue plates and a band. Fort Mill Ford, where Cash worked for so long, is sponsoring the event. All for the one woman who has held so many benefits at that same armory for others.
Cash herself is reticent about receiving anything. She has spent the past 15 years non-stop, and more before that, helping others. She has never once been on the receiving end.
“I am so grateful for all the people who have thought about me,” Cash said.
Anne Cash has no blood children, no relatives, in the area national Guard units. But she says this is how many of the guardsmen and families of the 178th are her family.
“Every single one of them.”
Want to help? The benefit for Anne Cash, longtime volunteer for the 178th Combat Engineers National Guard families and soldiers, is Saturday, Oct. 15., from 4 to 10 p.m at the Rock Hill National Guard armory, 126 Museum Road, Rock Hill. BBQ plates are $7.
A DJ and the Chris Marks Band will perform, and there will be a kids zone for families.
For more information contact Leanne Pressley at 803-371-0911, or firstname.lastname@example.org.