Dozens of men who deployed to Afghanistan with Maj. Kevin Jenrette ran roads familiar to the Lula soldier Saturday in his memory and honor.
They carried the red and white flag of the 108th Calvary, 48th Infantry Brigade of the Georgia National Guard as they joined dozens of other runners in the Inaugural Maj. Kevin Jenrette Some Gave All 5K in downtown Lula.
"He was just an outstanding soldier," said Joel King of Dalton, an active Georgia National Guard member who ran with the flag. "It was a rough day when he went down."
Jenrette, a husband and father of three young children, and two fellow Guardsmen were killed in action last June 4 near Kapisa, Afghanistan, by a roadside bomb. Saturday's run raised money in his memory for the Georgia National Guard Family Support Foundation.
"Today we pay tribute to Kevin, his vital sacrifice, and the sacrifices of all our servicemen and women, past and present," said Maj. Bobby Brookshire, one of Jenrette's close friends.
Brookshire said the run was scheduled to mark the anniversary of "one of the proudest days in Kevin's life ... the day he graduated from Ranger school on the 10th of May, 1996."
Jenrette's widow, Shannon Jenrette, said she wanted the money raised from the run to benefit the family support foundation because her husband "helped a lot of people."
"I've had a lot of people come to me and say he helped them in many ways," she said. "So with this, in a way he's still helping them."
It was the kind of event held on a sunny and breezy spring afternoon that Jenrette, an avid runner, would have liked, his wife said. Among the photos in a memorial kiosk at Rafe Banks Park was a black-framed image of Jenrette and his wife crossing the finish line at the 2008 Peachtree Road Race.
"It was the last time we ran it together, before he was deployed," his wife said.
Shannon Jenrette said Saturday's run "is in honor of him and the other soldiers who gave their lives. And it does keep his memory alive."
Sgt. Claude Bohannon is raising money for a memorial for fallen soldiers of the 108th Calvary at its headquarters in Calhoun. The 108th has lost 13 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Without the reminders of the sacrifices soldiers make, "people lose sight of it," Bohannon said.
"Even us, who deal with it every day, we kind of lose sight of it," he said.
Chip Oehring was one of about 15 motorcyclists with the Patriot Guard Riders who escorted the runners Saturday, less than a year after serving in the funeral procession for Jenrette.
"It's more than just being there for the funeral services and memorial services," Oehring said. "It's about continuing to support the families of these heroes."
"A nation that forgets its heroes will itself be forgotten, and we can't ever let that happen," Oehring said. "So we need to keep Maj. Jenrette's memory alive, and we need to keep alive the memories of all the men and women who have stood in harm's way and made the ultimate sacrifice."