VALENCIA – Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are benefitting from a unique tribute by a local wine distributor. “Six Heroes” Memorial Merlot, the label bearing the embossed image of the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima, is a limited-edition vintage wine presented in an unusual way. The Six Heroes name refers to the six men – five Marines and one Navy corpsman – whose flag-raising became a unifying symbol of World War II. “Each case, which contains two bottles of wine, opens to show one of the bottles fitted with a brushed aluminum capsule that gives it the look of an artillery shell, which symbolizes the atrocity of war,” said George Bacon, proprietor of Friar’s Choice North America LLC, which distributes the wine. Bacon’s move, while unique, is not the first time a specific wine has been used to raise funds for charity. “We have a wine called Big Tattoo Red that is produced by Two Brothers Winery,” said Frankie Cerna of Wine 661 in Valencia. “The brothers’ mother died of breast cancer and they donate 50 cents from each bottle to cancer research.” According to their Web site, sales of Big Tattoo wine have raised $770,000 as of July 1. “I wanted to do something both humanitarian and patriotic,” Bacon said. “I wanted to create something that would appeal to those who appreciate wine and serve a worthwhile purpose and maybe grab their hearts.” “Generally the American public has no idea of the huge financial impact on a disabled veteran returning home,” he added. Bacon’s generosity was enthusiastically received by the coalition and he was encouraged to expand his product line to include golf shirts and camouflage caps. The coalition reciprocated by adding a link to his Web site and arranging for discount sales through military.com. While the wine has only been available for a couple of months, orders have been pouring in and Bacon has already written a check to the coalition. Bacon, who spent the past 25 years working in corporate-risk management, is enjoying this branch of his professional life. He hopes to eventually turn Six Heroes into a nonprofit, similar to Newman’s Own, the food company owned by actor Paul Newman, which generates millions of dollars for the Hole in the Wall camp and other charities. In an attempt to spread the word about his tribute vintage, Bacon sent a few bottles around to friends and politicians, including U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon. “It wasn’t until after I sent it that I realized he doesn’t drink,” Bacon said with a sheepish smile. “Six Heroes doesn’t make any political statement for or against any current events,” he said. “It only acknowledges the atrocities of all wars, going back to the beginning of time.” He hopes to release the second wine in the heroes series, a chardonnay, sometime in 2007. For more information on Six Heroes, visit the Web site at www.sixheroes.com. or the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes Web site at www.saluteheroes.org. [email protected] (661) 257-5252160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los Angeles“But it also comes with a candle that can be placed in the cap to burn in honor of American service people.” Bacon, a U.S. Navy veteran who lives in Canyon Country, is donating a portion of the proceeds from each presentation case to the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, a charity founded in 2004 that provides resources to help severely injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. “I have not seen a wine company do this before,” said Ray Clifford, vice president of the coalition, who has worked with nonprofits for the past decade. “It’s an excellent wine. Mr. Bacon sent a bottle from the first batch and we sampled it here in the office. Everyone was very pleased.” Clifford said his group was initially founded to pay homage specifically to those who were fighting in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, but when they had their first rally, discovered there was a much greater need for help than just tribute. “We changed our focus to bringing together resources to help the severely injured service members,” he said. The coalition provides emergency financial help, housing assistance, family support and career counseling.