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Marine's mom and sister thank local supporters

Jill Tahmooressi thanks supporters. Jill Tahmooressi thanks supporters.

Jill Tahmooressi on Sunday thanked a roomful of residents for their support for her son, a Marine jailed in Mexico for the past 5½ months.


"I didn't expect this crowd," she told a standing room only audience in the community room of the Historic Courthouse. "It shows how many regular people know about Andrew, think of him as their own son, brother and are standing beside me trying to help him get out. It's encouraging."
Nationally known for its flights to take World War II veterans to visit the National World War II Memorial, Hendersonville-based HonorAir has adopted the Tahmooressi case, challenging supporters of the military and of veterans to contribute money to the Marine sergeant's defense and health care after his release. HonorAir founder Jeff Miller last week said he wanted to give Jill Tahmooressi a chance to rest and relax amid the anxiety of her son's case and to visit her daughter, who is a chiropractor in Asheville.
Jill gave a summary of Andrew's situation and then talked with supporters. Jill arrived in Western North Carolina Friday and has spent the weekend visiting her daughter, Andrea, who lives in Skyland.
0910Tahmooressi2Andrea Tahmooressi."It was a great feeling to see all of the local support," Andrea said. "Just hearing my mom talk was great. This is actually the first time I've been present to hear her talk at a function like this."
A line of people waiting to meet the family members snaked out the door. Some wrote checks for Andrew's legal and health care expenses, others brought gifts while others simply offered a hug and words of support.
"I've been hearing about this on the news and I wanted to support this lady and the movement," said Jan Moore, who has lived in Hendersonville for 11 years. "I just think it's a travesty that the Mexican government would treat one of our citizens like this and that our government has not been able to help him."
Miller brought light to Andrew's situation locally when he put '"Mexico free Marine Tahmooressi this sign stays'' on the highly visible Miller Dry Cleaning sign on King Street the day after he saw a television special about the Marine.
"I was so mad I went to our business on King Street and I said 'all I've got is a sign' so I put the sign up and I said I'm not taking it down until he's free," Miller said.
After further research, Miller decided to begin a fundraising effort to help the family pay attorney fees and help replenish Andrew's life savings, which had been spent trying to free him.

"The more I read into it I saw that his savings had been totally blown, he had been taken by two different attorneys that did nothing but take his money and that's when I decided to really kick it up a notch and try to use HonorAir to try and go and help pay for some of the legal defense."
HonorAir's fundraising has raised right at $15,000 so far, which is going straight to pay Andrew's legal fees, Miller said.

Among supporters who showed up Sunday, there was one sentiment that echoed from nearly every mouth: Why has Andrew been in jail so long?

As of today Andrew has been in Mexican prison for 160 days.

"He's highly frustrated because now he's going on nearly six months of incarceration," Jill said of her recent telephone conversations with Andrew. "Is there just some deeper, darker sinister reason why they're holding onto him, because he's innocent? 48 hours into the investigation they would have known he had no intent to drive into Mexico."

Andrew and his family say that he made a wrong turn outside of San Diego on a poorly marked highway in an unfamiliar area and crossed the Mexican border with three firearms in his truck and was never given the chance to explain his situation. Though the firearms were legally purchased in the United States, they are illegal in Mexico.
Donations to the Tahmooressi fund can be made by visiting or calling Jeff Miller at 828-329-6516.