Yongsan walk pays tribute to fallen heroes, raises scholarship money
April 4, 2005
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Royce Cannon and his family selected three names last month from a donation table at the Post Exchange store.
Sgt. 1st Class Donald W. Eacho, 38, of Black Creek, Wis., with Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.Spc. Matthew A. Koch, 23, of West Henrietta, N.Y., with Company C, 70th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division.Spc. Jonathan A. Hughes, 21, of Lebanon, Ky., with the 623rd Field Artillery Regiment, Kentucky Army National Guard.All three men died last month in Iraq. Improvised explosive devices killed Eacho in Ramadi and Koch in Taji. Hughes died in a convoy on the way to the Baghdad International Airport.
Last weekend, Cannon wrote letters to their families.
“I put my name, my wife’s name, the names of our children,” said Cannon, a Seattle native who works at the Seoul American High School on Yongsan Garrison. “Just saying that we were sorry.”
Cannon and nearly 2,000 others here raised thousands of dollars Saturday to fund scholarships for children whose parents have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The participants in the 7-kilometer “Walk for Fallen Heroes” walked for individual servicemembers picked from the more than 1,500 who have died since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003.
After the walk, many participants, like Cannon, took a minute to personalize and sign a form letter for the families. He had picked the three men’s names for the most part at random, but he wanted to make sure one was from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, known as Strike Force. Those 3,500 soldiers were deployed to Iraq from South Korea. So far, at least 52 have died, according to a tally kept by Stars and Stripes.
The walk was organized by students at the high school, and as of Saturday morning, the students had raised at least $15,000, according to Michelle Pell, a teacher helping with the event. Their goal is $50,000, but they won’t know whether they met it for at least a week, she said.
To raise the money, they took donations large and small and sold bracelets and T-shirts, kimbap and barbecued chicken.
Lt. Col. Lee Eady from Marvell, Ark., of the 501st Corps Support Group, Headquarters and Headquarters Company at Yongsan, said he and his family came out to honor the dead.
“We came out today to pay tribute to the servicemembers that have served and will serve,” he said before the walk began. “This is our tribute to them.”
Elizabeth Bechwith, a 13-year-old seventh-grader at the middle school at Yongsan, raised $36. She and her friends crowded around a table after they finished the walk to sign their names to letters.
“I thought it was fun,” she said, “and it’s for a good reason.”