Coming together

Military families pained by death find comfort with memorial walk/run

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Kelsey Harman, left, of Hayden, and Kathy Behrman, of Bonners Ferry, read biographies of military personnel with Idaho ties who died while on active duty serving during Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom or New Dawn on Saturday at Post Falls High School. A biography of Sgt. Devin Daniels of Council is in the foreground.

POST FALLS - More than a year has passed since Theresa Hart lost her son, Spc. Nicholas Newby, to war.

The hurt is still raw, but she's thankful for the company the Run for the Fallen Idaho has brought.

The statewide nonprofit held its third memorial walk/run on Saturday at the Post Falls High School track. It was held in memory of 86 military personnel with Idaho ties who died while on active duty serving during operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom or New Dawn.

"This is a day that brings us together," Hart said.

Newby, 20, and Sgt. Nathan Beyers, 24, both of Coeur d'Alene, were killed on July 7, 2011, by an improvised explosive device while serving with the Idaho Army National Guard in Iraq.

Biographies and photos of those lost during war lined the track for participants to view, while members of the Patriot Guard Riders carried flags. The event was divided into three sessions and, before each, names of some of the soldiers were read prior to participants heading onto the track for a walk/run.

"When you hear and see the names and share stories, it stays alive in our memories and hearts," said Rodney Wright, a pastor at Lake City Community Church. "Life is a precious gift."

Seeing a photo of Newby playing the guitar brought a wide smile to Hart's face.

"He loved to play the guitar, he loved to read and he loved to make people laugh," she said. "Remembering that keeps me going. He would want me to laugh and live life to the fullest. He reminds me with his smile."

Bill Conner of Wolf Lodge, whose son, Sgt. Major Brad Conner, died in 2007 in Iraq while serving in the Army, said visiting with other families brought comfort.

"It's important because it gives us the chance to meet again," Conner said.

Reflecting on Brad, Bill said his son was "dedicated to his faith."

Conner and Hart shared stories with T.J. and Sherri Patton of Coeur d'Alene, whose 20-year-old son Tyler died while serving last year.

"He'd be out here running with us the whole time," Sherri said of her son.

Thirteen months after Tyler's death, T.J. said "not much has changed. It still feels fresh."

"Every day I look at the flag on the wall and remember him while having coffee," T.J. said.

Jessica Tingley of Bonners Ferry remembered her brother, Sgt. Joshua Kirk, who died in Afghanistan in 2009. His nickname was Combat Kirk because he carried more items on him in the military than was required.

"He loved to gear up," said Tingley, donning a Team Combat Kirk shirt. "He was so patriotic even as a young kid. He loved serving."

Tingley said her family has always been patriotic and flown the flag year round, but Joshua's death changed the way she sees things.

"For so many military families, this is something they think about every day," she said.

Kathy Behrman said she participated in the run because families need support and it's the right thing to do.

"I respect what they've done for us," she said.

The Run for the Fallen Idaho is meant to educate people about those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"It's an opportunity to see those who were lost and get to know them a little better," Tingley said.

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