Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Navy Vet Swimming the Mississippi To Remember OEF and OIF Fallen

Honor to the lost: Navy vet swimming the Mississippi stops in Camp Ripley
Daily Globe
By Zach Kayser
Jul 7, 2015

“We can’t bring them back,” he said. “But we can honor them.”

Bill Smith of Grey Eagle writes a message honoring his son Paul on a kayak being used to support Navy veteran Chris Ring, left, as he swims the length of the Mississippi to honor families of those killed in conflict. Paul Smith was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Zach Kayers/Brainerd Dispatch

CAMP RIPLEY — A U.S. Navy veteran on a mission to swim the Mississippi stopped at Camp Ripley Tuesday to meet with some of the families his trek aims to honor.

“Gold Star” families have lost a member in military conflict. The name comes from the gold star some display in their homes to symbolize the son or daughter who was killed. Veteran Chris Ring plans to swim the entire length of the river in order to raise awareness for Gold Star families who lost loved ones in post-9/11 conflicts.

On Tuesday, Ring and his support team from nonprofit Legacies Alive paused their journey for a press event with some of the Gold Star families from the nearby area. Ring said his goal with the swim is to be able to walk up to any random person on the street, and have them know what a Gold Star family is. Legacies Alive co-founder Mike Viti said the idea for the group came from conversations with Gold Star families, when he asked them to name a thing they needed help with.

“The thing that most of them pointed to was, ‘The day that I fear the most is the day my loved one’s name isn’t said,’” he said. “Really, their legacy dies with the last memory.”
Bill Smith of Grey Eagle talked about his son, Paul, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Paul Smith was a combat engineer when the unit he commanded came under attack near Saddam International Airport. read more here

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