For each boot, a life: Fort Hood memorial honors fallen servicemembers

The boots representing Army Sgt. James Johnston and Army Master Sgt. Michael Riley, who died June 25 in Afghanistan, were most recently added to a display of more than 7,000 boots representing servicemembers who have died since 9/11. The display is at Fort Hood, Texas, through July 7.


By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 3, 2019

FORT HOOD, Texas — Annually, during the July Fourth celebration, a memorial is displayed near Fort Hood’s main entrance for the more than 7,000 U.S. servicemembers who have died since Sept. 11, 2001.

The boots are positioned in rows along the III Corps parade field at the central Texas base — each boot representing the life of a servicemember lost since 9/11.


The boots honor servicemembers of all military branches, no matter the circumstances of their death. Each boot is adorned with the servicemember’s information, a photo and an American flag. In some cases, visitors have added flowers, personal photos and scribbled messages across the boots.

Fort Hood began collecting boots for the display in 2014. This year’s memorial will remain at III Corps’ Sadowski Field through July 7.

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Visitors to the boot memorial, which is presented annually at Fort Hood, Texas, often tie together the boots of battle buddies or troops who died in the same action. The boots representing the 13 people killed during a mass shooting at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009 are tied together and have been adorned with Tootsie Roll Pops.

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