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Marine Mom Gathering Support for 'Prayer Pony'

Unidentified family members embrace around a memorial for the 12 Marines who died when their helicopters crashed off the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, Friday Jan. 22, 2016, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
Unidentified family members embrace around a memorial for the 12 Marines who died when their helicopters crashed off the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, Friday Jan. 22, 2016, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

In an Army town, the mother of a Marine is gathering support for U.S. troops lost at sea.

Debbie Crocker's son, Lance Cpl. Robert Crocker, serves as part of the Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

That's the unit that lost 12 Marines when two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters crashed off the coast of Oahu on Jan. 14.

Crocker took the news hard, knowing it very well could have been her son aboard one of the helicopters that day.

From roughly 4,700 miles away, she felt helpless as she watched a memorial for the Marines.

"I needed to do something to comfort those families," she said.

Then Crocker had an idea.

In the past, she had found her own comfort in a "Prayer Pony" -- a stuffed horse created by Your Silver Linings.

Your Silver Linings is an Asheboro-based farm that uses horses to help families cope with loss.

The organization's Prayer Pony mission creates stuffed horses to aid in the healing process.

Crocker called owner Kim Farmer and issued a challenge. She wanted to send special Pegasus Prayer Ponies to the families of those who died.

The Marine squadron was known by the nickname Pegasus, Crocker said. She felt the gesture could be a fitting tribute to the Marines.

Crocker has plans to send larger horses to the families of the fallen Marines, and smaller versions to those families with young children.

Farmer has specially made the horses, using Marine Corps camouflage and personalized dog tags provided by Fayetteville military stores.

A gold ribbon adorns each horse's neck.

To recoup the costs of the materials and shipping, Crocker has started an online fundraising effort through GoFundMe. In the first two weeks, she's received more than half of her $2,000 goal. Most has come through individual donations.

"I am not able to do a lot to help these families, but at least I know I can touch their lives by giving them something to remember their love ones," Crocker said in the description for her GoFundMe page. "Please help me and Your Silver Linings make this mission successful."

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