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Team Raises Over $18k for Wounded Vets in Memory of East Hampton War Hero

"Team Sam Scram" participated in memory of Tom Collins, a World War II decoder who died last year.

For the second year in a row, a dozen people from Springs took part in Soldier Ride in memory of World War II hero Army Staff Sgt. Tom Collins, a life-long East Hampton resident who died last year at the age of 89.

"Team Sam Scram," which derives its name from a nickname the British gave Collins during his work as a decoder, raised $18,522 for the Wounded Warrior Project this year.

It was only revealed in recent years that Collins' wartime duties as a transmission decoder played a role in defeating the Nazis. His activities, , were so significant to national security that it remained classified until 1998.  

Rachel Kleinberg, who commutes by bicycle to the  during the school year, organized the team shortly after Collins died in May 2011. She recruited friends from the , with whom Collins volunteered on the ambulance, to join her as well. 

Last year, . 

Kleinberg was moved by how many people — from Collins family to fellow team members' business clients — were willing to donate. "It is so very moving how so many people want to support this cause," she said. "I participate in lots of fundraisers for great endeavors, but people fall over themselves to support WWP."

The roster of riders included Kleinberg, Karen Haab, Mauricio Castillo, George Eldi — who rode in memory of his grandfather Daniel Coffey, who lost his leg in World War II in a battle in St. Lo France, after spending the war with Patton's 9th Division, 60th Infantry, Company C. 

Jeanette Caputo, an Iraq War veteran who served as a medic, also rode, along with her sister Heather Caputo. Their parents Michael and Michelle Caputo walked in the Sag Harbor 5K.

Collins' son, Michael Collins, was an honorary member of the team and was one of the many people who stood along the bike route to cheer riders as they went by. 

Other riders supporting "Team Sam Scram" included Rob Greene, Rebecca Morgan, Brian Schlitt, Curtis Manly, Bobby Eldi and the author of this article. 

Together the group raised $3,590 online, plus $14,962 offline, making for the grand total of $18,522. There was one large, anonymous donation in the amount of $12,500.

"Some people asked yesterday if they can still donate and I believe they can so more donations may be coming," Kleinberg said. 

Tina Piette July 24, 2012 at 03:11 PM
What a wonderful way to honor Tom Collins and all of our vets and soldiers. Thank you!

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