Runners honoring fallen veterans welcomed in Beaufort County

Published 2:32 pm Monday, July 30, 2018


For the Daily News

Runners from all parts of the country passed through Chocowinity Saturday, toting flags and stopping only to read the names of fallen soldiers. They were welcomed by a crowd of about 40, partly comprised of Gold Star mothers whose sons died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Run for the Fallen, a military tribute run that began in Fort Irwin, California, in April and that will end in Arlington, Virginia, on Aug. 5, is one of the most comprehensive fallen military tributes ever compiled, according to the run’s website.

Every mile, runners stop to read the names of soldiers who died from Oct. 12, 2000, the day the USS Cole was bombed, to the present. Family and friends of the fallen often travel from around the country to witness readings at specific postmarks.

PAYING RESPECTS: Runners and locals gather to salute the flag. (Ryan Oehrli/Daily News)

“I got involved, I’m a civilian, I’ve never been in the military,” said Kristen Smith, a runner from upstate New York who has run 1,200 miles since she started at Fort Irwin. “I think it’s important to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. We’ve met so many families. It’s a 30-second interaction but means so much.”

The runners’ dedication meant much to Gold Star mother Jennifer Tripp, whose son Michael Murdock died in Afghanistan in 2008.

“I feel much gratitude,” she said. “It’s bittersweet. I’m glad they want to honor our sons and daughters.”

“It’s a blessing,” added Caren Newman, whose son Joel Taylor was killed in Iraq in 2008. “It means a lot that so many people came out.”

Woolard’s Towing and Transport flew a flag from one of its trucks over the intersection at US-17 and NC-102. After runners arrived, they were escorted by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office to First Church of Christ for a meal prepared by the church and American Legion Post 15. Families and spectators came as well, and a table in the corner paid tribute to local veterans who died in the War on Terror.

“It’s an honor for us,” said American Legion Post Commander Philip Mobley. “The Gold Star families, these are their children who’ve been killed. That’s nothing we should ever forget.”

Runners had to deal with rain in New Bern Saturday. They rested Sunday and left for Edenton on Monday. For more information on Run for the Fallen, visit