“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.” -- Thucydides, Ancient Greek historian and author, 460-404 BC.
My family and I attend all memorials at Irvine’s Northwoods Gratitude and Memorial Wall as it’s the only standing wall dedicated to honoring the men and women that have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At each holiday remembrance they add the recent names to the walls and they are read individually. This past Memorial Day our daughter read names of service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice, she was so proud to be standing there and honoring them while my husband and I were proud that she wanted to do it. She stood next to the wife of a fallen soldier and read the name on her paper beaming.
Standing in heels on the grass in 100 degree heat on Saturday September 15 was a given, I would have stood there no matter the weather to pay my respects. I attended the Fallen Heroes Dream Ride presentation at Northwoods Gratitude Wall.
The back-story to this 51 Chevy is the showing of a families pride and love in their Marine: For years Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge had talked of getting a classic Chevy truck. Prior to his deployment to Afghanistan he vowed to find and restore one when he returned home. Phillip was not able to fulfill that dream, however in the days following Phillip’s passing the decision was made to fulfill that dream for him by restoring a 1951 Chevy pickup in his, and all fallen heroes honor.
Watching the Irvine Police Department and the Patriot Guard Riders escort this truck was enough to cover my body with goosebumps while waving our American Flags and cheering. I was honored to meet the mother of Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge who was the inspiration behind the Fallen Heroes Dream Ride. We spoke about her son and her pride in what he did, we also spoke about the unplanned stops they have made during their trip from Saint Louis, MO to Irvine, CA and knowing there would be many more on their way home.
Lance Cpl. Vinnedge was part of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment deployed to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan which deployed in the fall of 2010. By the time their tour ended in April 2011, the Marines of the 3/5 — known as "Darkhorse" — suffered the highest casualty rate of any U.S. military unit during the war with 25 Marines killed in action and 200 wounded.
The fallen heroes of the 3/5 are:
Oct. 8, 2010: Lance Cpl. John Sparks
Oct. 13, 2010: Lance Cpl. Joseph Rodewald, Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge, Cpl. Justin Cain and Pfc. Victor Dew
Oct. 14, 2010: Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood, Lance Cpl. Irvin Ceniceros and Lance Cpl. Joseph Lopez
Oct. 15, 2010: Lance Cpl. James Boelk
Oct. 16, 2010: Sgt. Ian Tawney
Nov. 4, 2010: Lance Cpl. Matthew Broehm and Lance Cpl. Brandon Pearson
Nov. 6, 2010: Lance Cpl. Randy Braggs
Nov. 9, 2010: 1st Lt. Robert Kelly
Nov. 10, 2010: Lance Cpl. James Stack
Nov. 24, 2010: Lance Cpl. Arden Buenagua
Nov. 25, 2010: 1st Lt. William Donnelly
Dec. 2, 2010: Sgt. Matthew Abbate
Dec. 6, 2010: Cpl. Derek Wyatt and Pfc. Colton Rusk
Dec. 7, 2010: Sgt. Jason Peto
Dec. 17, 2010: Lance Cpl. Jose Maldonado
Dec. 24, 2010: Lance Cpl. Kenneth Corzine
Dec. 28, 2010: Cpl. Tevan Nguyen
Jan. 20, 2011: Sgt. Jason Amores