Despite early hours and a rainy weather, hundreds gathered at Sadowski Field on Saturday at Fort Hood to participate in the Fisher House Hero and Remembrance Run, Walk or Roll, an event that honors service men and women who died from combat-related injuries after 9/11. This was the second annual run at Fort Hood.
Theresa Johnson, Fort Hood’s Fisher House manager and a military wife and mother, founded the event at another post a few years after losing a family friend, Pfc. Tim Vimoto, who died in Afghanistan in 2007.
“It all started with me wanting to do something to honor Tim’s sacrifice, but also honor the service of my husband, (Command Sgt. Major Leon Johnson), and my son.”
All told, 7,098 military boots, 580 of whom represent fallen Fort Hood soldiers, lined the 5-kilometer route Saturday. The boots, which are still on display in front of III Corps Headquarters, are tagged with the fallen service member’s photo and date of death.
“When you make that first turn and see all the boots, it’s overwhelming,” said military wife Kimberly Smith who joined the run after seeing last year’s boot display. “You can’t help but be moved throughout the run (because) you are looking at the faces of dads, moms, and someone’s child.”
Participants were comprised of active and retired military, their families and civilians wanting to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“War doesn’t discriminate; it touches every person, every rank, everyone is affected,” Johnson said.
Event speaker Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commander of First Army Division West, said he was honored to be at this event for the first time.
“This is a celebration of both life and the sacrifice of life. This isn’t a run; it is a living memorial.”
Boots can be added for anyone that would like to remember their soldier by emailing a photo and their information to Johnson at Theresa.firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This event isn’t just for those who have died downrange,” Johnson said, “this is for all branches, all soldiers, their families and battle buddies regardless of the circumstances of their death. It is something tangible, a place to visit when you cannot make it to wherever they may be; this is a place to remember and to hopefully heal.”
Immediately after the run, boots were lined up according to year of death in front of Fort Hood’s III Corps Headquarters where they will stay on display for viewing until Nov. 12.