Finalists announced for 'Tribute for Heroes' campaign

Finalists announced for 'Tribute for Heroes' campaign

CHICAGO -- An Army serviceman who risked his life to save another's during battle, a Marine who has provided an outlet for veterans to show their artistic side and a serviceman making sure everyone can get a ride are among the finalists in Major League Baseball and People magazine's "Tribute for Heroes" campaign.

The finalists connected to the Cubs include Richard Bennett of DeKalb, Ill., Jim Wagner of Dubuque, Iowa, and Richard Casper of Chicago. They are among the 90 finalists announced Tuesday in the campaign, a national initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and builds upon both the commitment of MLB and the magazine to honor these heroes.

Fans are encouraged to visit to view the full list of finalists and to vote on their favorite stories through June 30.

One winner from each of the 30 MLB teams will be included in the All-Star week festivities and recognized in pregame ceremonies leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16 on FOX.

The "Tribute for Heroes" winner will be featured in the July 22 issue of People, which will hit newsstands July 12.

Bennett served in the Army's 101st Airborne Division. During a deployment to Afghanistan, his unit came under fire on a daily basis. While on an air assault mission to the Korengal Valley, Bennett ran 35 meters through heavy enemy fire and threw himself on the platoon's fallen medic to shield him from further wounds.

Heavy fire continued all around as he pulled his fellow soldier to cover. That soldier is now recovering.

For his actions, Bennett was awarded the Silver Star. He's pursuing a bachelor's degree at Northern Illinois University and hopes to work with the Wounded Warriors Project after graduation.

Casper survived four different IED explosions during his tour in Iraq as a Marine. But despite sustaining PTSD and traumatic injuries to the left side of his brain, he calls himself "lucky," because those injuries caused the right side to become dominant. He now enjoys all art, focusing on ceramics and photography. After his return to the U.S., he graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago and started CreatiVets, a nonprofit for disabled veteran artists and writers, a charity that helps wounded vets through art and music.

Wagner was wounded in action in Vietnam, and instead of going home after his wounds were treated, he returned to his outfit and served the remaining months of his tour of duty. He received the Purple Heart for his wounds, valor and bravery. In 2009, he founded Operation We Care, which helps honorably discharged vets. In '11, he founded a veterans community center. He's the president of "Give a Lift to a Vet," which supplies a new van every two to three years for transporting veterans to and from medical appointments.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.