Sunday, August 8, 2010

Honoring fallen heroes

I had the honor of meeting Mike Ehredt yesterday as I made my way from Minnesota to Colorado. Mike was passing near Ames, Iowa as he runs from Oregon to Maine, planting flags each mile, one for each and every American soldier lost in Iraq.

Mike Ehredt, smiling way bigger than I would be if I was running 30 miles a day

When we met up with Mike, a retired postal clerk and Army vet, we dropped my father John, also a retired Army officer, off to ride along with Mike for the day.  John will accompany Mike until he is done for the day, then turn north and ride all the way back to the Twin Cities over the next couple days.

Mike and my dad approaching the next mile marker

We met up with Mike at mile marker 110 near Jackson, Iowa, where he planted a flag for Marine Reserve Corporal Steven P. Gill from Round Rock Texas, who was killed by an IED explosion in July 2005.  After planting the flag, Mike and John silently saluted Corporal Gill, before pushing on to the next mile marker.

Saluting Corporal Gill one last time

In memory of Marine Corporal Steven P. Gill, just outside Jackson, IA

It was inspiring to see one man jogging on the shoulder of a busy highway, alone with his jogger stroller as cars zipped by just a couple feet away.  From the little bit I got to talk to Mike, he seemed like an absolute stand-up guy, and I think what he is doing is very special.  We didn't want to delay him long, as he was barely halfway through his day's run, so we bid Mike and my dad farewell and moved on.

Mike and John head east towards Ames, IA, while we head west for Omaha

Conveniently, Mike actually planted a flag for my uncle, Daniel E. Holland (along with the other three soldiers killed with him) in Colorado earlier in the year, and it worked out that as we passed north of Denver the next day we were only a couple miles from the location of Daniels flag.  Using the GPS coordinates from the Project America Run site, we were able to locate it without much trouble along Hwy. 93 outside Boulder.  Daniel and his family lived in Colorado for a while at one point, and he loved the outdoors, so it was fitting that his memorial was placed just at the foot of the Rocky Mountains just a couple hours from where he'd lived.

The flag planted for Ltc. Daniel Holland, an Army Veteranarian killed in Iraq May, 18, 2006 by a roadside bomb, along with three other soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter

The writing was faded on the ribbon, but you could just make out Daniel E. Holland, San Antonio, Texas.  We had a short moment of silence to thank Daniel for his sacrifice, then walked back to the car and continued our trip, heading up into the Rocky Mountains.

The faded but visible writing on the ribbon bears Daniel's rank, age, service, and hometown

I'll leave you with this beautiful sunset at the Nebraska/Colorado border.  What a sight to see!
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