The lives of one hundred fifty five soldiers were cut short when they put themselves in harm's way so we could continue to enjoy freedom. One hundred were from Missouri and 55 were from Kansas. In an effort to make sure these heroes are not forgotten, the Patrick Farnan family (wife Deann, daughter Kristen) gives us an opportunity each year to “Remember.” They lost their son/brother SPC Colby M. Farnan on February 25, 2005 in combat in Iraq.
March 2006, the first 'Walk to Remember' was held in Weston, Missouri. A mission was born: To raise enough funds to place a Battlefield Cross Memorial in each community in Kansas and Missouri that has lost a defender of our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. To date 11 Battlefield Cross Memorials have been placed in Weston, St. Joseph, Independence and Blue Springs in Missouri and Tonganoxie, Gardner/Edgerton, and Topeka in Kansas.
The fourth annual “Walk to Remember” was held May 2, 2009 in Weston. A large crowd had gathered and watched two groups of motorcyclists parade (estimated 60 total) toward them from Main and Walnut. The larger group of motorcyclists had ridden from North Kansas City to attend the “Walk to Remember.” The 2 lead Road Captains each had 3 full size flags mounted on the back of their motorcycles. Everyone gathered around a stage set up with flags and a Battlefield Cross Memorial. The posting of the colors and Pledge of Allegiance opened the ceremony by Patrick Farnan. “This is not a day about politics or whether you believe in the war. This day is about honor. From the hole in my heart to all of you, thank you.“
April 13, 2009, six 3x5 American flags accompanied pilots in the cockpits of F-16s during combat air patrols in Iraq. With the flags was a certificate signed by the pilots flying the missions. They were presented to members of the families in memory of:
Army PFC Brian J. Bradbury, St. Joeseph, Missouri
Army SPC Richard M. Crane, Independence, Missouri
SPC William J. Mulvihill, Leavenworth, Kansas
SGT Courtney D. Finch, Leavenworth, Kansas
Army SPC Kyle G. Thomas. Topeka, Kansas.
One flag was also presented to Patrick Farnan. Major Mark Donnithorne, USAF proposed the idea. He rode with the motorcycle procession in 2008 to “Walk to Remember” and is now on tour in Iraq. In a letter to Patrick Farnan, Major Donnithorne stated, “I present the enclosed flags as a token of our respect for the patriotism and selfless service of the soldiers you honor during this year’s 'Walk to Remember.' My team and I honor the memory of our departed comrades and the sacrifice of their families on a daily basis as we put on our uniforms in defense of our nation.”
Two of the motorcycle riders, Tom “Wingnut” Losh and AJ, both veterans, Post 407 Lenexa Legion Riders, and Kansas Patriot Guard Riders (PGR), attended for the first time. “Wingnut” and his fellow riders spoke with many of the Gold Star Mothers and families in attendance, and the families remembered the PGR attending their child’s funeral because of their nametags sewn on their vests. 'Wingnut' recalls, “While talking with one of the parents, I felt a slight touch on my back. Shane Austin’s mom was touching her son’s Mission Patch.”
“Wingnut“ recounted, “The 'Walk' was a 5K along a path that had the photos and stories about each of the one hundred fifty five lost, each on a white poster board with a larger flag and a unlit candle in glass positioned in front of the poster. As you walked the path the faces of the soldiers brought back the memory of the sissions we did (for the PGR). What an honor to be invited to this event. Several who came knew they couldn’t walk the 5K but just wanted to show support for the families.” “Wingnut” continued, “At the beginning of the walk, you had to cross a bridge to get to the path. The Gold Star Families were there to give us a small American Flag to take with us on the walk. If we felt like leaving it with one of the soldiers along the path we could.“ AJ stated, “We got the flags from the Gold Star Families we were going to keep the flags to ‘Remember‘.”
The 2009 “Walk to Remember” raised $10,000.
Lead Road Captains for the group of motorcyclists that rode from North Kansas City were Bob Ford and Dennis Walden.
Road Captains were Ken Breedlove, Betty Ford, Mitchell Fowler, Dennis Hayes, Lehman Heaviland, Richard Loveall and Darrell Curfman.
Honorary Road Captains were Patrick Farnan and C. R. Carter.
A special thank you to members of the North Kansas City Police Department, Tracy, Missouri, Police Department, and Platte County Sheriff’s Office for assisting with traffic control during the ride.
Respectfully submitted by Darrell Curfman.
Contributors: Major Mark Donnithorne, USAF; Tom “Wingnut” Losh; AJ.
Photographs: Kenton Curfman, Darrell Curfman