WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAVY) — The 31Heroes nonprofit organization continues to honor the lives of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on board Extortion 17.
Every August, Terry Ford organizes the 31Miles for 31Heroes in Washington D.C.
“This is how I keep their names alive. This is how I help their families know that they are never forgotten. That their sacrifice will never be forgotten,” said Ford.
11 years ago, 30 service members and a military K9 were killed in action when their helicopter was shot down over Afghanistan.
“I didn’t understand the scoop of it at the time,” Ford explained. “It wasn’t until I got the full list [of the names] that I really go the gravity of it all. It was a punch in gut.”
The Virginia Beach native worked closely with many of the Navy SEALs onboard the helicopter when it went down.
“I set out to do this on my own as my own little way of honoring the men.”
Ford now serves as a 31Heroes board member.
Overnight from Saturday to Sunday, 5-6 teams met at the Lincoln Memorial monument. Ford arranged different routes for the teams to travel 31 miles throughout D.C. before meeting at the Arlington National Cemetery.
“Almost every one of the teams showed up at Arlington around 8:20a.m. So, everybody pretty much did it in about 12 and a half hours,” said Ford
Each volunteer carries 2-bricks to symbolize the lives lost and the burden the family carries.
“It’s because of people who step forward and raise their hand and defend us, they deserve to be remembered.”