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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/us/military/honors

Two sisters make Army history after both attain general’s rank

For the first time in the US Army‘s 244 year history, two sisters have attained the rank of general.

Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and her younger sister, Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi, grew up in a military family. Their father, Ruston Lodi, served in World War II and received the Silver Star.

Westlake Legal Group Maria-Barrett-Paula-Lodi-3 Two sisters make Army history after both attain general's rank fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/good-news fox news Fox 13 fnc/us fnc article 39e4eb89-5e0c-5be3-8caa-9be497f2c127

Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett poses with Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi during then Col. Lodi’s promotion ceremony at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA on 12 July 2019.

Both have impressive resumes: Maj. Gen. Barrett is the Commanding General of NETCOM, while Brig. Gen. Lodi is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Office of the Surgeon General, USA Today reports.

But while fathers and sons have risen to general in the past, the Army believes this pair are the first sisters with the distinction.

Westlake Legal Group Maria-Barrett-Paula-Lodi-1 Two sisters make Army history after both attain general's rank fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/good-news fox news Fox 13 fnc/us fnc article 39e4eb89-5e0c-5be3-8caa-9be497f2c127

Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett presenting Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi a beret with one-star rank insignia as a tribute to the history of women serving in the Army and the historic moment of sisters serving together as General Officers.

“Maj. Gen. Maria Barrett and Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi represent the best America has to offer,” said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy. “However, this comes as no surprise to those who have known them and loved them throughout this extraordinary journey. This is a proud moment for their families and for the Army.”

Read more from Fox 13.

Westlake Legal Group Maria-Barrett-Paula-Lodi-2 Two sisters make Army history after both attain general's rank fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/good-news fox news Fox 13 fnc/us fnc article 39e4eb89-5e0c-5be3-8caa-9be497f2c127   Westlake Legal Group Maria-Barrett-Paula-Lodi-2 Two sisters make Army history after both attain general's rank fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/good-news fox news Fox 13 fnc/us fnc article 39e4eb89-5e0c-5be3-8caa-9be497f2c127

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families

Keith Sherman has been to more funerals than he cares to count.

The U.S. Navy veteran served his country for 26 years and retired in October as a senior chief petty officer. He supported SEAL and Special Warfare teams throughout his career and many friends died in combat.

On the eve of his retirement, Sherman decided he wanted more people to be able to honor the incredible heroes of this nation who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

FORMER NAVY SEAL, 52, WHO WAS WOUNDED IN BERGDAHL MISSION, HEADS TO YALE AS A FRESHMAN

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-1 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Gold Star mother Linda Dillon’s son, Army Ranger Benjamin Dillon died Oct. 7, 2007, in Mosul, Iraq. (Keith Sherman)

Sherman’s singular yet powerful mission: telling the stories of fallen service members through the voices of Gold Star families, those who have lost loved ones through military service. For them, “the grief never ends,” Sherman said.

“I was going to retire in San Diego and drive back to Massachusetts and stop by the hometowns of fallen service members that I had served with and share some memories with their Gold Star families that maybe they had not heard before,” Sherman told Fox News.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman with Gold Star sister Nikki Winn in May. (Keith Sherman)

For the past year, Sherman has traveled across the nation documenting stories of Gold Star families from each of the 50 states, tenderly gathering tributes and stories of the families’ loved ones. While his project started humbly, Gold Star Dirt became a nonprofit last August, and Sherman has traveled to nearly every state, logging over 43,000 miles.

He had seven states left as of Wednesday night – Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah and Washington, with plans to drive to Utah on Thursday. Sherman said he will fly from Hawaii to Massachusetts for his symbolic last visit, as that’s where he entered the military.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-3 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman has been traveling to each of the 50 states to collect stories from Gold Star families. (Keith Sherman)

He was preparing for a three-month inpatient treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, before he retired, when he decided to start collecting stories.

Sherman lost friends to suicide related to PTSD, including one who confided in him but asked him not to share for fear of losing his security clearance. His friend later killed himself, Sherman said.

After struggling with guilt and regret, and after another friend shared his own battles with the same issues and how he could get help, Sherman was diagnosed with PTSD and an MRI revealed he had 12 traumatic brain injury-related lesions.

As he prepared for retirement, his purpose became clear, and he wanted to document Gold Star families’ stories on behalf of the nation, Sherman said.

Just about every story could bring tears to people’s eyes.

“I feel the weight deeply during and after each interview. I can’t count the number of times that I have shed tears right along with the family. They are pouring their hearts out right in front of me, someone that they don’t even know,” Sherman said.

“I feel the weight deeply during and after each interview. I can’t count the number of times that I have shed tears right along with the family. They are pouring their hearts out right in front of me, someone that they don’t even know.” 

— Keith Sherman

He recalled a young woman in Montana, Rheanna Tanner, who said it was “love at first sight” with her Marine husband Cpl. John Cory Tanner. The two married and she got pregnant at 18. John Tanner deployed to Iraq when his wife was four months pregnant. An IED killed him when she was nine months pregnant.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-7 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Gold Star spouse Rheanna Tanner filling out Navy veteran Keith Sherman’s map as he gathers stories from Gold Star families in each of the 50 states. (Keith Sherman)

“Rheanna buried her husband and three days later gave birth to their son, [whom] he never got to meet,” Sherman said. “Rheanna said that in all of that pain, anguish and turmoil, and being 19 and a widow, giving birth to their child was the best part of her young life.”

When he started the project, Sherman started a Gold Star Dirt Facebook page, the “dirt” referring to his love of dirt bikes and the intended mode of transportation for his road trip. While he decided to drive a car, he has continued to travel with his dirt bike, along with a pop-up tent.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-2 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman has been traveling to each of the 50 states to collect stories from Gold Star families. (Keith Sherman)

Once he established an online presence, Sherman connected with a Gold Star sibling whose brother died in Iraq. Kristine Flores, a TV producer in San Jose, Calif., has been producing the project, contacting the Gold Star families and lining up interviews.

The Library of Congress also spotted the Gold Star Dirt and reached out to see if Sherman knew about the Gold Star Family Voice Act, which expanded the Veterans History Project mandate to audio and video first-person interviews.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-6 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Keith Sherman interviewed Gold Star Father Russ Hicks. (Keith Sherman)

It turned out the Library of Congress was in search of the stories Sherman wanted to tell.

“There it was – now the mission had purpose and scope,” he said.

Sherman said he started to prepare for his mission and plan his travel route.

“My thought process for the route came out of trying to skip the northern winter in the United States. I drew a line across the nation and figured that by the time I visited the southern states, met and documented the family stories and hit the East Coast, the northern winter would be mostly over,” he explained.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-5 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Keith Sherman)

“I was worried about the winter, as I would be camping my way across the nation using my rooftop tent. I figured that this way I could keep expenses low as I don’t have any funding, only my retirement, and disability from my military retirement,” Sherman said.

CHICK-FIL-A MAKES 500 SANDWICHES FOR FIRST RESPONDERS AFTER TEXAS SHOOTING SPREE

Now, a year later, with his project nearing completion, Sherman has submitted 20 states’ worth of stories so far.

The Library of Congress has confirmed a donation ceremony date for Nov. 1 at 10 a.m., and every Gold Star family that has participated in the project will be invited to see their loved one’s story be donated into the National Archives, Sherman said.

He said he would reach out to members of Congress in the families’ districts to invite them to the ceremony as well, and also wanted to invite philanthropic groups to donate so the families wouldn’t have to pay for travel expenses to attend the ceremony.

Down the road, the Library of Congress is expected to make the interviews available to view online, but Sherman noted that the process would take time.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“I have been putting together small-form pieces while on the road and releasing them on our social media when I can. The response has really been amazing,” he said. “So many want to hear these stories of love, honor and sacrifice.”

He added, “Right now, I just need to focus on finishing this project to the best of my ability and in a manner that is in line with the kindness, love and honor that all these families have shown me.”

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b   Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families

Keith Sherman has been to more funerals than he cares to count.

The U.S. Navy veteran served his country for 26 years and retired in October as a senior chief petty officer. He supported SEAL and Special Warfare teams throughout his career and many friends died in combat.

On the eve of his retirement, Sherman decided he wanted more people to be able to honor the incredible heroes of this nation who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

FORMER NAVY SEAL, 52, WHO WAS WOUNDED IN BERGDAHL MISSION, HEADS TO YALE AS A FRESHMAN

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-1 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Gold Star mother Linda Dillon’s son, Army Ranger Benjamin Dillon died Oct. 7, 2007, in Mosul, Iraq. (Keith Sherman)

Sherman’s singular yet powerful mission: telling the stories of fallen service members through the voices of Gold Star families, those who have lost loved ones through military service. For them, “the grief never ends,” Sherman said.

“I was going to retire in San Diego and drive back to Massachusetts and stop by the hometowns of fallen service members that I had served with and share some memories with their Gold Star families that maybe they had not heard before,” Sherman told Fox News.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman with Gold Star sister Nikki Winn in May. (Keith Sherman)

For the past year, Sherman has traveled across the nation documenting stories of Gold Star families from each of the 50 states, tenderly gathering tributes and stories of the families’ loved ones. While his project started humbly, Gold Star Dirt became a nonprofit last August, and Sherman has traveled to nearly every state, logging over 43,000 miles.

He had seven states left as of Wednesday night – Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah and Washington, with plans to drive to Utah on Thursday. Sherman said he will fly from Hawaii to Massachusetts for his symbolic last visit, as that’s where he entered the military.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-3 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman has been traveling to each of the 50 states to collect stories from Gold Star families. (Keith Sherman)

He was preparing for a three-month inpatient treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, before he retired, when he decided to start collecting stories.

Sherman lost friends to suicide related to PTSD, including one who confided in him but asked him not to share for fear of losing his security clearance. His friend later killed himself, Sherman said.

After struggling with guilt and regret, and after another friend shared his own battles with the same issues and how he could get help, Sherman was diagnosed with PTSD and an MRI revealed he had 12 traumatic brain injury-related lesions.

As he prepared for retirement, his purpose became clear, and he wanted to document Gold Star families’ stories on behalf of the nation, Sherman said.

Just about every story could bring tears to people’s eyes.

“I feel the weight deeply during and after each interview. I can’t count the number of times that I have shed tears right along with the family. They are pouring their hearts out right in front of me, someone that they don’t even know,” Sherman said.

“I feel the weight deeply during and after each interview. I can’t count the number of times that I have shed tears right along with the family. They are pouring their hearts out right in front of me, someone that they don’t even know.” 

— Keith Sherman

He recalled a young woman in Montana, Rheanna Tanner, who said it was “love at first sight” with her Marine husband Cpl. John Cory Tanner. The two married and she got pregnant at 18. John Tanner deployed to Iraq when his wife was four months pregnant. An IED killed him when she was nine months pregnant.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-7 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Gold Star spouse Rheanna Tanner filling out Navy veteran Keith Sherman’s map as he gathers stories from Gold Star families in each of the 50 states. (Keith Sherman)

“Rheanna buried her husband and three days later gave birth to their son, [whom] he never got to meet,” Sherman said. “Rheanna said that in all of that pain, anguish and turmoil, and being 19 and a widow, giving birth to their child was the best part of her young life.”

When he started the project, Sherman started a Gold Star Dirt Facebook page, the “dirt” referring to his love of dirt bikes and the intended mode of transportation for his road trip. While he decided to drive a car, he has continued to travel with his dirt bike, along with a pop-up tent.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-2 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman has been traveling to each of the 50 states to collect stories from Gold Star families. (Keith Sherman)

Once he established an online presence, Sherman connected with a Gold Star sibling whose brother died in Iraq. Kristine Flores, a TV producer in San Jose, Calif., has been producing the project, contacting the Gold Star families and lining up interviews.

The Library of Congress also spotted the Gold Star Dirt and reached out to see if Sherman knew about the Gold Star Family Voice Act, which expanded the Veterans History Project mandate to audio and video first-person interviews.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-6 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Keith Sherman interviewed Gold Star Father Russ Hicks. (Keith Sherman)

It turned out the Library of Congress was in search of the stories Sherman wanted to tell.

“There it was – now the mission had purpose and scope,” he said.

Sherman said he started to prepare for his mission and plan his travel route.

“My thought process for the route came out of trying to skip the northern winter in the United States. I drew a line across the nation and figured that by the time I visited the southern states, met and documented the family stories and hit the East Coast, the northern winter would be mostly over,” he explained.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-5 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Keith Sherman)

“I was worried about the winter, as I would be camping my way across the nation using my rooftop tent. I figured that this way I could keep expenses low as I don’t have any funding, only my retirement, and disability from my military retirement,” Sherman said.

CHICK-FIL-A MAKES 500 SANDWICHES FOR FIRST RESPONDERS AFTER TEXAS SHOOTING SPREE

Now, a year later, with his project nearing completion, Sherman has submitted 20 states’ worth of stories so far.

The Library of Congress has confirmed a donation ceremony date for Nov. 1 at 10 a.m., and every Gold Star family that has participated in the project will be invited to see their loved one’s story be donated into the National Archives, Sherman said.

He said he would reach out to members of Congress in the families’ districts to invite them to the ceremony as well, and also wanted to invite philanthropic groups to donate so the families wouldn’t have to pay for travel expenses to attend the ceremony.

Down the road, the Library of Congress is expected to make the interviews available to view online, but Sherman noted that the process would take time.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“I have been putting together small-form pieces while on the road and releasing them on our social media when I can. The response has really been amazing,” he said. “So many want to hear these stories of love, honor and sacrifice.”

He added, “Right now, I just need to focus on finishing this project to the best of my ability and in a manner that is in line with the kindness, love and honor that all these families have shown me.”

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b   Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families

Keith Sherman has been to more funerals than he cares to count.

The U.S. Navy veteran served his country for 26 years and retired in October as a senior chief petty officer. He supported SEAL and Special Warfare teams throughout his career and many friends died in combat.

On the eve of his retirement, Sherman decided he wanted more people to be able to honor the incredible heroes of this nation who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

FORMER NAVY SEAL, 52, WHO WAS WOUNDED IN BERGDAHL MISSION, HEADS TO YALE AS A FRESHMAN

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-1 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Gold Star mother Linda Dillon’s son, Army Ranger Benjamin Dillon died Oct. 7, 2007, in Mosul, Iraq. (Keith Sherman)

Sherman’s singular yet powerful mission: telling the stories of fallen service members through the voices of Gold Star families, those who have lost loved ones through military service. For them, “the grief never ends,” Sherman said.

“I was going to retire in San Diego and drive back to Massachusetts and stop by the hometowns of fallen service members that I had served with and share some memories with their Gold Star families that maybe they had not heard before,” Sherman told Fox News.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman with Gold Star sister Nikki Winn in May. (Keith Sherman)

For the past year, Sherman has traveled across the nation documenting stories of Gold Star families from each of the 50 states, tenderly gathering tributes and stories of the families’ loved ones. While his project started humbly, Gold Star Dirt became a nonprofit last August, and Sherman has traveled to nearly every state, logging over 43,000 miles.

He had seven states left as of Wednesday night – Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah and Washington, with plans to drive to Utah on Thursday. Sherman said he will fly from Hawaii to Massachusetts for his symbolic last visit, as that’s where he entered the military.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-3 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman has been traveling to each of the 50 states to collect stories from Gold Star families. (Keith Sherman)

He was preparing for a three-month inpatient treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, before he retired, when he decided to start collecting stories.

Sherman lost friends to suicide related to PTSD, including one who confided in him but asked him not to share for fear of losing his security clearance. His friend later killed himself, Sherman said.

After struggling with guilt and regret, and after another friend shared his own battles with the same issues and how he could get help, Sherman was diagnosed with PTSD and an MRI revealed he had 12 traumatic brain injury-related lesions.

As he prepared for retirement, his purpose became clear, and he wanted to document Gold Star families’ stories on behalf of the nation, Sherman said.

Just about every story could bring tears to people’s eyes.

“I feel the weight deeply during and after each interview. I can’t count the number of times that I have shed tears right along with the family. They are pouring their hearts out right in front of me, someone that they don’t even know,” Sherman said.

“I feel the weight deeply during and after each interview. I can’t count the number of times that I have shed tears right along with the family. They are pouring their hearts out right in front of me, someone that they don’t even know.” 

— Keith Sherman

He recalled a young woman in Montana, Rheanna Tanner, who said it was “love at first sight” with her Marine husband Cpl. John Cory Tanner. The two married and she got pregnant at 18. John Tanner deployed to Iraq when his wife was four months pregnant. An IED killed him when she was nine months pregnant.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-7 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Gold Star spouse Rheanna Tanner filling out Navy veteran Keith Sherman’s map as he gathers stories from Gold Star families in each of the 50 states. (Keith Sherman)

“Rheanna buried her husband and three days later gave birth to their son, [whom] he never got to meet,” Sherman said. “Rheanna said that in all of that pain, anguish and turmoil, and being 19 and a widow, giving birth to their child was the best part of her young life.”

When he started the project, Sherman started a Gold Star Dirt Facebook page, the “dirt” referring to his love of dirt bikes and the intended mode of transportation for his road trip. While he decided to drive a car, he has continued to travel with his dirt bike, along with a pop-up tent.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-2 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman has been traveling to each of the 50 states to collect stories from Gold Star families. (Keith Sherman)

Once he established an online presence, Sherman connected with a Gold Star sibling whose brother died in Iraq. Kristine Flores, a TV producer in San Jose, Calif., has been producing the project, contacting the Gold Star families and lining up interviews.

The Library of Congress also spotted the Gold Star Dirt and reached out to see if Sherman knew about the Gold Star Family Voice Act, which expanded the Veterans History Project mandate to audio and video first-person interviews.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-6 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Keith Sherman interviewed Gold Star Father Russ Hicks. (Keith Sherman)

It turned out the Library of Congress was in search of the stories Sherman wanted to tell.

“There it was – now the mission had purpose and scope,” he said.

Sherman said he started to prepare for his mission and plan his travel route.

“My thought process for the route came out of trying to skip the northern winter in the United States. I drew a line across the nation and figured that by the time I visited the southern states, met and documented the family stories and hit the East Coast, the northern winter would be mostly over,” he explained.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-5 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Keith Sherman)

“I was worried about the winter, as I would be camping my way across the nation using my rooftop tent. I figured that this way I could keep expenses low as I don’t have any funding, only my retirement, and disability from my military retirement,” Sherman said.

CHICK-FIL-A MAKES 500 SANDWICHES FOR FIRST RESPONDERS AFTER TEXAS SHOOTING SPREE

Now, a year later, with his project nearing completion, Sherman has submitted 20 states’ worth of stories so far.

The Library of Congress has confirmed a donation ceremony date for Nov. 1 at 10 a.m., and every Gold Star family that has participated in the project will be invited to see their loved one’s story be donated into the National Archives, Sherman said.

He said he would reach out to members of Congress in the families’ districts to invite them to the ceremony as well, and also wanted to invite philanthropic groups to donate so the families wouldn’t have to pay for travel expenses to attend the ceremony.

Down the road, the Library of Congress is expected to make the interviews available to view online, but Sherman noted that the process would take time.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“I have been putting together small-form pieces while on the road and releasing them on our social media when I can. The response has really been amazing,” he said. “So many want to hear these stories of love, honor and sacrifice.”

He added, “Right now, I just need to focus on finishing this project to the best of my ability and in a manner that is in line with the kindness, love and honor that all these families have shown me.”

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b   Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

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Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families

Keith Sherman has been to more funerals than he cares to count.

The U.S. Navy veteran served his country for 26 years and retired in October as a senior chief petty officer. He supported SEAL and Special Warfare teams throughout his career and many friends died in combat.

On the eve of his retirement, Sherman decided he wanted more people to be able to honor the incredible heroes of this nation who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

FORMER NAVY SEAL, 52, WHO WAS WOUNDED IN BERGDAHL MISSION, HEADS TO YALE AS A FRESHMAN

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-1 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Gold Star mother Linda Dillon’s son, Army Ranger Benjamin Dillon died Oct. 7, 2007, in Mosul, Iraq. (Keith Sherman)

Sherman’s singular yet powerful mission: telling the stories of fallen service members through the voices of Gold Star families, those who have lost loved ones through military service. For them, “the grief never ends,” Sherman said.

“I was going to retire in San Diego and drive back to Massachusetts and stop by the hometowns of fallen service members that I had served with and share some memories with their Gold Star families that maybe they had not heard before,” Sherman told Fox News.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman with Gold Star sister Nikki Winn in May. (Keith Sherman)

For the past year, Sherman has traveled across the nation documenting stories of Gold Star families from each of the 50 states, tenderly gathering tributes and stories of the families’ loved ones. While his project started humbly, Gold Star Dirt became a nonprofit last August, and Sherman has traveled to nearly every state, logging over 43,000 miles.

He had seven states left as of Wednesday night – Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah and Washington, with plans to drive to Utah on Thursday. Sherman said he will fly from Hawaii to Massachusetts for his symbolic last visit, as that’s where he entered the military.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-3 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman has been traveling to each of the 50 states to collect stories from Gold Star families. (Keith Sherman)

He was preparing for a three-month inpatient treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, before he retired, when he decided to start collecting stories.

Sherman lost friends to suicide related to PTSD, including one who confided in him but asked him not to share for fear of losing his security clearance. His friend later killed himself, Sherman said.

After struggling with guilt and regret, and after another friend shared his own battles with the same issues and how he could get help, Sherman was diagnosed with PTSD and an MRI revealed he had 12 traumatic brain injury-related lesions.

As he prepared for retirement, his purpose became clear, and he wanted to document Gold Star families’ stories on behalf of the nation, Sherman said.

Just about every story could bring tears to people’s eyes.

“I feel the weight deeply during and after each interview. I can’t count the number of times that I have shed tears right along with the family. They are pouring their hearts out right in front of me, someone that they don’t even know,” Sherman said.

“I feel the weight deeply during and after each interview. I can’t count the number of times that I have shed tears right along with the family. They are pouring their hearts out right in front of me, someone that they don’t even know.” 

— Keith Sherman

He recalled a young woman in Montana, Rheanna Tanner, who said it was “love at first sight” with her Marine husband Cpl. John Cory Tanner. The two married and she got pregnant at 18. John Tanner deployed to Iraq when his wife was four months pregnant. An IED killed him when she was nine months pregnant.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-7 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Gold Star spouse Rheanna Tanner filling out Navy veteran Keith Sherman’s map as he gathers stories from Gold Star families in each of the 50 states. (Keith Sherman)

“Rheanna buried her husband and three days later gave birth to their son, [whom] he never got to meet,” Sherman said. “Rheanna said that in all of that pain, anguish and turmoil, and being 19 and a widow, giving birth to their child was the best part of her young life.”

When he started the project, Sherman started a Gold Star Dirt Facebook page, the “dirt” referring to his love of dirt bikes and the intended mode of transportation for his road trip. While he decided to drive a car, he has continued to travel with his dirt bike, along with a pop-up tent.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-2 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman has been traveling to each of the 50 states to collect stories from Gold Star families. (Keith Sherman)

Once he established an online presence, Sherman connected with a Gold Star sibling whose brother died in Iraq. Kristine Flores, a TV producer in San Jose, Calif., has been producing the project, contacting the Gold Star families and lining up interviews.

The Library of Congress also spotted the Gold Star Dirt and reached out to see if Sherman knew about the Gold Star Family Voice Act, which expanded the Veterans History Project mandate to audio and video first-person interviews.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-6 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Keith Sherman interviewed Gold Star Father Russ Hicks. (Keith Sherman)

It turned out the Library of Congress was in search of the stories Sherman wanted to tell.

“There it was – now the mission had purpose and scope,” he said.

Sherman said he started to prepare for his mission and plan his travel route.

“My thought process for the route came out of trying to skip the northern winter in the United States. I drew a line across the nation and figured that by the time I visited the southern states, met and documented the family stories and hit the East Coast, the northern winter would be mostly over,” he explained.

Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-5 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

Navy veteran Keith Sherman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Keith Sherman)

“I was worried about the winter, as I would be camping my way across the nation using my rooftop tent. I figured that this way I could keep expenses low as I don’t have any funding, only my retirement, and disability from my military retirement,” Sherman said.

CHICK-FIL-A MAKES 500 SANDWICHES FOR FIRST RESPONDERS AFTER TEXAS SHOOTING SPREE

Now, a year later, with his project nearing completion, Sherman has submitted 20 states’ worth of stories so far.

The Library of Congress has confirmed a donation ceremony date for Nov. 1 at 10 a.m., and every Gold Star family that has participated in the project will be invited to see their loved one’s story be donated into the National Archives, Sherman said.

He said he would reach out to members of Congress in the families’ districts to invite them to the ceremony as well, and also wanted to invite philanthropic groups to donate so the families wouldn’t have to pay for travel expenses to attend the ceremony.

Down the road, the Library of Congress is expected to make the interviews available to view online, but Sherman noted that the process would take time.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“I have been putting together small-form pieces while on the road and releasing them on our social media when I can. The response has really been amazing,” he said. “So many want to hear these stories of love, honor and sacrifice.”

He added, “Right now, I just need to focus on finishing this project to the best of my ability and in a manner that is in line with the kindness, love and honor that all these families have shown me.”

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Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b   Westlake Legal Group Gold-Start-Dirt-4 Navy veteran traveling across US to collect stories of fallen service members from Gold Star families Melissa Leon fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/navy fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox news fnc/us fnc article 79c40ff9-c8ba-5fd8-8c99-19225659854b

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First female US Airman earns Ranger tab

An Air Force officer on Friday became the first woman of her branch to earn a Ranger tab, joining nearly 300 other Ranger-qualified Airmen.

First Lt. Chelsey Hibsch graduated from the Army Ranger Course at Fort Benning, Ga. Graduates’ families and friends were there to watch the ceremony.

Westlake Legal Group Chelsey-Hibsch-1 First female US Airman earns Ranger tab Melissa Leon fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/georgia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military/air-force fox news fnc/us fnc article 974feb83-41aa-527f-bee1-9af829f8f3cf

Maneuver Center of Excellence leaders, family and friends of Ranger Class 18-19 graduates watched them get pinned on Aug. 30. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Ranger School is one of the Army’s most difficult leadership courses – only about half the candidates end up graduating the grueling 61-day course.

“Ranger School is truly not for the weak or faint of heart,” Air Force Security Forces Center Chief of Training Lt. Col. Walter Sorensen said in an Air Force news release.

Westlake Legal Group Chelsey-Hibsch-2 First female US Airman earns Ranger tab Melissa Leon fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/georgia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military/air-force fox news fnc/us fnc article 974feb83-41aa-527f-bee1-9af829f8f3cf

Maneuver Center of Excellence leaders, family and friends of Ranger Class 18-19 attended graduation on Aug. 30. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

“It speaks well of all those who persevere to find that inner grit and motivation to push through all that Ranger School throws at them. The perspective tabbed Airmen earn serves them well when the mission gets challenging and others look to them to find a way,” said Sorensen, who is also Ranger-qualified.

2 SETS OF TWINS SEPARATE TO GO TO DIFFERENT MILITARY ACADEMIES

The Army began accepting Airmen at Ranger School in 1955. Sixty years later, in 2015, the military said women could attend Ranger School.

Westlake Legal Group Chelsey-Hibsch-3 First female US Airman earns Ranger tab Melissa Leon fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/georgia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military/air-force fox news fnc/us fnc article 974feb83-41aa-527f-bee1-9af829f8f3cf

The Ranger Class of 2018-19 graduated on Aug. 30. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick Albright, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs)

Hibsch is now expected to serve as a flight commander in the 821st Contingency Response Support Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. She previously was assigned to the 374th Security Forces Squadron at Yokota Air Base in Japan.

TRUMP ESTABLISHES SPACE COMMAND, DEFENDS US INTEREST IN SPACE

She attended the Air Force’s Ranger Assessment Course (RAC) and the Tropic Lightning Academy in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, in order to qualify for a spot at Ranger School.

Hibsch said RAC was “an unmatched learning experience on leadership and followership.”

Westlake Legal Group 2c0f004c-Chelsey-Hibsch-5 First female US Airman earns Ranger tab Melissa Leon fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/georgia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military/air-force fox news fnc/us fnc article 974feb83-41aa-527f-bee1-9af829f8f3cf

Airmen from different career fields challenging themselves in the Ranger Assessment course, a combat leadership course that could lead to attending Army Ranger School. (U.S. Air Force)

RAC is intended to be stressful so Airmen will learn how to lead under pressure and in various circumstances.

Hibsch said lessons from RAC could be applied to Ranger School; she had gained an “understanding of how you function when you’re hungry, tired, wet, cold and worse, then you have to lead a team of individuals feeling the exact same way.”

She added, “You really find out a lot about your teammates and yourself in these stressful situations.”

Westlake Legal Group Chelsey-Hibsch-4 First female US Airman earns Ranger tab Melissa Leon fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/georgia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military/air-force fox news fnc/us fnc article 974feb83-41aa-527f-bee1-9af829f8f3cf

Then-2nd Lt. Chelsey Hibsch speaks during a Women’s History Month luncheon at Yokota Air Base in March 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

The Airborne Ranger and Training Brigade public affairs officer, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Billings, explained the three phases of Ranger School.

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“In the Ft. Benning phase, the students become trained on squad operations and focus on ambush and recon missions, patrol base operations, and planning before moving on to platoon operations. In the Mountain phase, students develop their skills at the platoon level in order to refine and complete their training in Swamp phase. After these three phases, Ranger Students are proficient in leading squad and platoon dismounted operations around the clock in all climates and terrain.”

Air Force Materiel Command said Hibsch was the first female Airman to earn a Ranger tab, “but she won’t be the last!”

Westlake Legal Group Chelsey-Hibsch-1 First female US Airman earns Ranger tab Melissa Leon fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/georgia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military/air-force fox news fnc/us fnc article 974feb83-41aa-527f-bee1-9af829f8f3cf   Westlake Legal Group Chelsey-Hibsch-1 First female US Airman earns Ranger tab Melissa Leon fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/georgia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/army fox-news/us/military/air-force fox news fnc/us fnc article 974feb83-41aa-527f-bee1-9af829f8f3cf

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Texas teen mows US flag into lawn to honor Army friend who died by suicide along US-Mexico border

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6055321690001_6055319413001-vs Texas teen mows US flag into lawn to honor Army friend who died by suicide along US-Mexico border Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/arizona fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/army fox news fnc/us fnc article 686264b5-4c58-593b-b0a9-a76c9aa7e94b

A Texas teen is honoring his late friend who was in the Army with a touching, patriotic tribute.

Cameron James, 17, of Haslet, mowed an American flag in his lawn to honor his hometown friend who committed suicide while deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, as Fox 4 reported.

Pfc. Kevin Christian, 21, who was a member of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, was found dead by suicide on June 23.

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“Pfc. Christian was a constant positive force on our team, always ready and willing to shoulder more than his share of the load. He will be sorely missed by the Warriors, but his contribution to our mission and the sacrifices he has made to our country will never be forgotten,” Lt. Col. Dallas Cheatham, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment said in a statement to the news outlet.

Click for more from Fox 4.

Frank Miles is a reporter and editor covering geopolitics, military, crime, technology and sports for FoxNews.com. His email is Frank.Miles@foxnews.com.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6055321690001_6055319413001-vs Texas teen mows US flag into lawn to honor Army friend who died by suicide along US-Mexico border Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/arizona fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/army fox news fnc/us fnc article 686264b5-4c58-593b-b0a9-a76c9aa7e94b   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6055321690001_6055319413001-vs Texas teen mows US flag into lawn to honor Army friend who died by suicide along US-Mexico border Frank Miles fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/arizona fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/army fox news fnc/us fnc article 686264b5-4c58-593b-b0a9-a76c9aa7e94b

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D-Day combat patches reproduced by California company honoring US soldiers

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6045514362001_6045524276001-vs D-Day combat patches reproduced by California company honoring US soldiers William La Jeunesse fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/topic/world-war-two fox news fnc/us fnc article 58721ef4-f009-51de-b7f6-1aed613c42e9

To honor the soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy, a California company is reproducing combat patches from D-Day and making them available to relatives of those who fought in that epic battle.

“It is our way of giving back to the men and women who fight for our country,” says Ira Newman of Action Embroidery of Ontario, Calif.

The U.S. Army is unique among military branches in that all soldiers are required to wear a shoulder patch identifying their units. To those who serve, the patch is more than cloth and thread. It represents a brotherhood, lost or forgotten friends and a link to those who came before.

“He got shot twice in Germany and got wounded coming down,” said Barry Moss, a Marine-turned military librarian. His father parachuted into Normandy while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division on D-Day.

“They had guys they served with and the next thing you know they were not there anymore,” said Moss, recalling one of the few stories his father shared about the war. Like many families, his father’s uniform and other memorabilia are in the attic.

U.S. forces invading Normandy were composed mainly of the following Army units: The First Army under Gen. Omar Bradley, the Fifth and Seventh Corps, the First, 4th and 29th Infantry Divisions, the 2nd Ranger Battalion and two airborne divisions, the 101st and 82nd.

Shoulder sleeve insignia, or SSI, are made to precise, government specs.

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For example, the First Army patch contains 9,082 stitches. The 1st Infantry, 4,200. Thread on the 4th Infantry patch is sewn with needles exactly two inches apart.

Each is specific, detailed and wrought with meaning. The 29th Infantry’s blue-gray design represents soldiers brought together from both sides of the Civil War. The 82nd Airborne’s “AA” means All-American. It is meant to depict soldiers from every state.

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Prior to 1960, each military branch designed its own insignia. Afterward, the Pentagon’s Institute of Heraldry standardized the task and awarded contracts. Today, all U.S. military patches are designed in Virginia and made domestically.

With permission and encouragement from the Pentagon, Newman’s company produced several hundred combat badges from each unit, all of which spilled blood on the beaches and fields of Normandy 75 years ago. Wives, sons and daughters of those brave men can obtain a patch honoring their service by emailing dday75@actionemb.com with a local address until the patches run out.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6045514362001_6045524276001-vs D-Day combat patches reproduced by California company honoring US soldiers William La Jeunesse fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/topic/world-war-two fox news fnc/us fnc article 58721ef4-f009-51de-b7f6-1aed613c42e9   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6045514362001_6045524276001-vs D-Day combat patches reproduced by California company honoring US soldiers William La Jeunesse fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/military-families fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/topic/world-war-two fox news fnc/us fnc article 58721ef4-f009-51de-b7f6-1aed613c42e9

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Last surviving Doolittle Raider from attack on Japan remembered

Westlake Legal Group last-surviving-doolittle-raider-from-attack-on-japan-remembered Last surviving Doolittle Raider from attack on Japan remembered Lucas Tomlinson Jennifer Griffin fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/topic/world-war-two fox news fnc/world fnc c0a289e4-81c6-5f91-96fc-e6c758a58d84 article

It was a turning point in the war, just four months after Pearl Harbor, and gave the nation hope.

Lt. Col. Richard Cole, the last surviving Doolittle Raider, died last week at the age of 103. He was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot in the lead bomber that launched the surprise counter-attack over Japan in April 1942.

“How we were selected to go on that raid I don’t know,” said Cole in an interview with the American Veterans Center in 2014.

The raid was a virtual suicide mission: 16 bombers with 80 men on board taking off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, 650 miles east of Japan, to bomb Tokyo and break the will of the Japanese.

Westlake Legal Group ContentBroker_contentid-468f04ea7eb7440ab95106c9e6a67970 Last surviving Doolittle Raider from attack on Japan remembered Lucas Tomlinson Jennifer Griffin fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/topic/world-war-two fox news fnc/world fnc c0a289e4-81c6-5f91-96fc-e6c758a58d84 article

Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, seated front, was presented a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the Doolittle Raiders in April 2015. (AP Photo/Gary Landers, File)

The B-25 Mitchell bombers flew without fighter escort. The lumbering bombers had to be modified to take off on the short, pitching flight deck. Typically the bombers would need 3,000 feet of runway to take off on land, but at sea, they had only 500 feet on the carrier.

While inflicting only minimal damage, the raid boosted morale back home in the United States and changed the course of the war.

Three Doolittle Raiders were killed. Eight were captured by the Japanese. Four survived years of solitary confinement.  All but one of the bombers crash-landed in China. The Raiders thought they would be court-martialed, not honored.

Asked how he became Doolittle’s co-pilot on the famous mission, Cole said it was fate.

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“It was strictly by luck,” he said. “The 17th group got transferred to Columbia, South Carolina. They had put a note up on the board wanting volunteers for a dangerous nation. I had [to] put my name there.”

Two months after the raid, mission commander Brig. Gen. Jimmy Doolittle received the nation’s highest valor award, the Medal of Honor, from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Oval Office.

Cole received the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Doolittle Raiders agreed to meet every year until only two remained. In 2013, they uncorked a bottle of vintage cognac from 1896 — the year of Doolittle’s birth — for a final toast.

Thursday, a grateful nation will say goodbye to the last Doolittle Raider. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and the Air Force’s top officer, Gen. David Goldfein are to fly down to San Antonio, Texas, for the memorial.

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Lt. Col. Richard Cole will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery if Congress intervenes, according to officials.

Three years ago, the Air Force said it would name its new B-21 bomber — The Raider — in honor of the legendary Doolittle Raiders.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6027271105001_6027267660001-vs Last surviving Doolittle Raider from attack on Japan remembered Lucas Tomlinson Jennifer Griffin fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/topic/world-war-two fox news fnc/world fnc c0a289e4-81c6-5f91-96fc-e6c758a58d84 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6027271105001_6027267660001-vs Last surviving Doolittle Raider from attack on Japan remembered Lucas Tomlinson Jennifer Griffin fox-news/us/us-regions/southwest/texas fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/proud-american fox-news/us/military/veterans fox-news/us/military/honors fox-news/us/military/heroism fox-news/topic/world-war-two fox news fnc/world fnc c0a289e4-81c6-5f91-96fc-e6c758a58d84 article

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