The deaths of the 13 U.S. service personnel killed in a suicide bombing attack in Kabul has touched the hearts of every American. For many U.S. veterans, particularly those who served tours of duty in Afghanistan, the grief has been profound.
Dayton Police Sgt. Tyler Head, a U.S. Marine veteran, wants the lives of the 13 service personnel and the sacrifices they made to help others to be remembered.
“We want everyone to know their lives were worth something. A lot of people believe that last mission shouldn’t have happened but the families of the 13 need to know that it meant something, and it will always mean something to us,” said Head. “This tragedy will go down in history. We can’t change the outcome now but we can remember them.”
This Sunday, Sept. 12, Head and a few fellow veterans, police officers and firefighters have planned a memorial walk from Dayton and Liberty, and back to Dayton. All totaled, the distance is roughly 13 miles, one mile in honor of each service person who was killed in the Kabul bombing attack. Originally, the plan was to hold the walk on Saturday, Sept. 11, but Head and others were already committed to another 9/11 event in Chambers County.
To recognize the significance of the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, which launched the protracted war in Afghanistan, the 13-mile walk on Sunday will begin at precisely 9:11 a.m.
The route will start at Dayton Police Department on SH 321, travel south to US 90 and then east to Liberty. From there, they will make the short walk to the Liberty County Courthouse and then return to Dayton along the same route.
“We are not trying to prove anything. We are just going to sacrifice a little bit of our time and energy to honor these 13 for the final mission of their lives,” he said.
Head wants the walk to be a patriotic show of support and a way to rally around the families of the fallen.
“We will be carrying American flags. One of the veterans is planning to carry a Marine flag and an Afghanistan flag. I will be carrying the Thin Blue Line flag,” he said.
Serving in Afghanistan, Head learned a lot about the people of the country and developed friendships with Afghan people, including an interpreter who is now living in the United States. The interpreter, according to Head, is now desperate to get his wife and kids to safety.
“The people in Afghanistan appreciated the security that the United States military forces brought to their lives. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for them now,” Head said.
Moreover, Head believes the Americans still stranded in Afghanistan must not be forgotten.
“People don’t realize that there are still Americans over there who cannot get out because of the airports being controlled by the Taliban,” Head said.
Anyone wishing to participate in Sunday’s walk is encouraged to show up by 8 a.m. Attire should be appropriate for a 13-mile walk in the Texas heat, and patriotic shirts and clothing are encouraged. There are no sign-up forms in advance and there is no cost to participate.
Local businesses and residents have provided water, Gatorade and snacks.