About Operation Pedal 4 Vets

Follow my journey of raising awareness and funds for The Boot Campaign as I train to ride my bicycle on RAGBRAI (400+ miles across the state of Iowa) while wearing combat boots!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Service Member Spotlight - Kevin

A very special thank you to Kevin for taking the time to answer my questions and for sending these wonderful photos of the Graettinger memorial. We will be going through Graettinger during RAGBRAI and I look forward to taking a picture in front of this memorial with my boots!

Military branch / term(s) of service: Army National Guard/1979-2005

Tour(s): Operation Enduring Freedom 2002-2003

What do your boots mean to you? Next to a soldier’s personal weapon, his boots are one of his/her most prized possessions.  Both are similar in that if you take good care of them, they will take good care of you.

Over my 25 year career, I have had the privilege and honor to conduct many military funerals for soldiers and veterans.  The image of “The Soldiers Cross” now comes to mind.  As I have lost two soldiers recently from PTSD after their return from Afghanistan.  I am sure many of you have seen the pictures of the display of a pair of combat boots, and inverted rifle with the soldier’s helmet and dog tags hanging from it.  The helmet and identification tags signify the fallen soldier. The inverted rifle with bayonet signals a time for prayer and a break in the action to pay tribute to our comrade. The combat boots represent the final march of the last battle.  So I guess when I pull out my old combat boots these days, it reminds me of the sacrifices our past and present veterans have made and continue to make.

Do you still wear your boots? Upon my retirement, I had multiple pairs of combat boots.  I began my construction business in 2005 and they were the best pair of boots I ever had to do concrete work.  I have another pair of cold weather gortex boots I use during these cold Iowa winters when I’m clearing snow.  I do have two old pair that I still use, but will be keeping the others as keepsakes.
Tips or tricks for breaking in the boots: The best tip I could give to break in boots would to wear them a few hours each day for about a week.  Then they should be stretched and flexible enough to begin training for your big ride.
Suggestions / advice for getting through the tough times during RAGBRAI?   I don’t know if this will be of benefit, but whenever we as a group did a 5 mile run for instance, we always stayed as a unit and this always seemed to make it easier.  So stay in a group or at least in pairs.  And of course, you can always soften the pain with a few cold ones at the local watering holes.
What should civilians know about how to support veterans?  I guess by showing love and respect for our flag and country.  Appreciate the freedoms you now have and reflect not just on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, but often, of the sacrifices that our veterans and their families continue to make on their behalf.
"Dedicated to the men and women of our community who came from every walk of life to serve our county in war and peace so that we can enjoy the freedoms of democracy."

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