Border wall-fund founder lived in Hawaii
A wounded Iraq War veteran and 1999 Kaimuki High graduate continues to raise millions to build a wall on the Mexican border.
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A wounded Iraq War veteran and 1999 Kaimuki High graduate continues to raise millions to build a wall on the Mexican border even as the U.S. government remains partially shuttered over President Donald Trump’s demand for federal funding for the controversial project.
Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, who lost part of an arm and both legs in a rocket attack in 2004, had raised a staggering $18 million as of Saturday through his 2-week-old “We the people will fund the wall” GoFundMe online account. Nearly 300,000 people have contributed.
Along the way, the former Honolulu resident who now lives in Miramar Beach, Fla., has become a lightning rod for Trump’s promised border wall, receiving death threats against his family, he said.
“As a veteran who has given so much — three limbs — I feel deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today,” Kolfage, 37, says on the fundraising site. “Too many Americans have been murdered by illegal aliens and too many illegals are taking advantage of the United States taxpayers with no means of ever contributing to our society.”
Kolfage said that if the 63 million people who voted for Trump each gave $80, the wall could be built. “That equates to roughly $5 billion. Even if we get half, that’s half the wall. We can do this,” he said.
Kolfage has appeared multiple times on Fox News to talk about his fundraising effort, which set a $1 billion goal, and also caught the attention of late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who joked Dec. 20 that “donating money for a wall that will never exist — it’s like starting a college fund for Harry Potter. It’s a waste.”
Just last March, Kolfage, his wife, Ashley, and their two young children were in Honolulu to be recognized by the state House with a resolution honoring “the sacrifices that this local boy made for our country.”
“The state of Hawaii never said thank you to him. We say thank you to a lot of people, but we’ve missed him. So it was time to rectify that,” said state Rep. Bob McDermott (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) at the time.
Kolfage lived on Oahu from about the seventh grade on and loves surfing. After graduation from Kaimuki High, he enlisted in the Air Force.
He was two weeks into his second deployment to Iraq in 2004 when he heard a turbine noise as he walked from his tent at Balad Air Base to get some water. A 107 mm rocket exploded a few feet away, severing his right hand and taking both his legs.
The retired senior airman fought through a difficult recovery, studied architecture at the University of Arizona, became a motivational speaker and co-founded the Military Grade Coffee Co.
He said he still comes back to Hawaii once or twice a year because he likes it so much here.
More recently, Kolfage was behind the Facebook page Right Wing News and affiliated sites “that frequently trafficked in conspiracy theories,” NBC News reported.
In October, Facebook took down Right Wing News and 558 other pages as part of its policy banning “coordinated inauthentic behavior — networks of accounts or pages working together to mislead others,” according to the social media giant.
“I was just upset with the way politicians were playing with this wall,” Kolfage said on Fox Business Thursday of his fundraising campaign, which launched Dec. 16. “It’s something we’ve been promised for a long time and it’s been dragging on as long as I can remember, and I just had enough.”
Congress “wasn’t doing anything and I just decided I’m going to make this GoFundMe and see where it goes,” he said. “And it just took off and it shows the resolve of the American people (and) what they want.”