Passing on a Legacy of Love

  • Published
  • By TSgt Kornasiewicz
  • 180th FW Public Affairs
In June of 2007, Loren Sonnenberg lived through what every spouse dreads when their loved one is deployed. In the middle of the night came a knock at the door with word that her husband, Ohio Air National Guard Lt. Col Kevin Sonnenberg, died while serving his country when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed near Balad Air Base, Iraq. 

"This was not the plan," said Sonnenberg. "I did not expect to be a widow." 

To have a plan was just the message she wanted to impart in her touching presentation July 16 here to the soon-to-be deploying 180th Fighter Wing servicemembers. 

"We cannot make the promise that we will return from Iraq, or the grocery store for that matter," said Sonnenberg. 

Sonnenberg introduced the Sonny Smiles Foundation, which is a "volunteer based organization dedicated to building a legacy of love after death by providing organizational kits and seminars for families across America." 

Available on the website are Care Kits, which are organizational tools that provide loved ones with everything they need to carry out last wishes and personal details, and are
comprised of easy to use, short instruction booklets that keep everything in one place, said Sonnenberg. 

Some of the tips in the Care Kits include recommendations about Living Wills, Durable Power of Attorney documents and to have a Revocable Living Trust. Sonnenberg advised the servicemembers to check and update beneficiaries on these documents,
and also to have a list of user names and passwords available. 

Sonnenberg also advised loved ones to have conversations about special plans and wishes, such as where to be buried and funeral arrangements. 

"Don't make your family guess what you wanted," said Sonnenberg. 

Although these issues can be uncomfortable ones, they can be acomfort in the face of a tragedy. 

"So much of what Kevin did for me was out of love," said Sonnenberg. "It is a true gift of love for your family to complete a Care Kit." 

Please visit the website at for more information.

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