The 1993 graduate will speak about the loss of her husband and fellow Red Raider, Maj. Troy Gilbert, and her family's journey of faith, hope and healing.
The Texas Tech Military and Veterans National Alumni Chapter and the Office of the President will host speaker and alumna Ginger Gilbert Ravella at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Mckenzie-Merket Alumni Center. Gilbert Ravella will speak on behalf of the Folds of Honor Foundation and share her story as the wife of Maj. Troy Gilbert, a Texas Tech alumnus and Air Force fighter pilot who was killed in November 2006 in Iraq during a rescue mission.
"I am proud to come back to a place and community I dearly love and have deep roots with. I have also been very humbled and grateful for the support and honor Texas Tech has shown to Troy and to our family since his death," Gilbert Ravella said. "In that same spirit, I want to give back, to educate about the Folds of Honor mission and to motivate members of the Texas Tech community to get more involved helping fallen and wounded soldiers and their families."
Gilbert Ravella will speak about her family's history with Texas Tech, their story of loss from the war on terrorism and the hope they have found through their faith.
"Ginger continues to keep Troy's spirit alive through her message of love and sacrifice," Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said. "Troy paid the ultimate price for his country, and we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to him and all of our veterans."
Gilbert was completing a four-month deployment at Balad Air Base in Iraq when he was killed. On Nov. 27, 2006, insurgents shot down an army AH-6 helicopter and surrounded the American flight crew and a group of special operations forces who responded to rescue them.
Gilbert and his wingman responded to the scene, destroying one truck before looping around for a second pass on the remaining insurgents. Though he was successful in his rescue efforts, the second pass was low and steep and his plane crashed into the ground, killing Gilbert.
Insurgents stole his body from the crash site before U.S. soldiers could retrieve him. For 10 years, Gilbert Ravella, their five children and the rest of Gilbert's family and friends prayed and hoped for his recovery as U.S. forces searched for his remains. In September 2016, their prayers were answered – Gilbert's remains had been fully recovered. He was laid to rest Dec. 19 at Arlington National Cemetery.
"As a Texas Tech alumna, Ginger is a charter member of our Military and Veterans National Alumni Chapter," said Col. Lou Ortiz, chapter president. "A major goal of our chapter is to recognize Red Raiders who have served and sacrificed for our country, in particular those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. She and her family have endured the most trying circumstances a military family can face over a period of 10 long years."
Gilbert Ravella also will speak of the life she and her children built with her second husband, Col. Jim Ravella, an Air Force fighter pilot who endured the death of his first wife, Andrea. The Ravella's story of loss, love and hope, which they originally shared on their blog, Our Journey to Healing, will be published as a book, "Hope Found," this spring by WestBow Press.
"Her compelling story of hope, faith and perseverance through it all is one that everyone should hear," Ortiz said. "It's important that we fully appreciate the sacrifices of those service members who serve our nation in uniform and the sacrifices of their family members."
A reception with light refreshments will precede the lecture. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees must RSVP by Wednesday (Jan. 25). To RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Monday after Thanksgiving 2006 began like any other day for Texas Tech University alumna Ginger Gilbert Ravella. She watched her 3-year-old daughter, Bella, jump on the trampoline in the backyard of their home in Phoenix, while 9-month-old twin daughters Aspen and Annalise napped inside.
Her two oldest boys, Boston and Greyson, then 8 and 6, were at school. Her husband, fellow Texas Tech graduate and Air Force fighter pilot Major Troy "Trojan" Gilbert, was stationed at Balad Air Force Base in Iraq, almost three months into a four-month deployment.
At about 9:15 a.m., hearing a knock, she opened the front door.
"There they all were – the commander, the chaplain," Gilbert Ravella recalls. "My little girl was hanging on my leg and they said, " Is there anybody here that can take care of her? We need to talk to you.'"
Gilbert Ravella handed her daughter to a friend who had stopped by a few minutes earlier and followed the men into her daughter's bedroom... More>>