Army veterans complete ruck in honor of fallen comrade

MACON, Miss. (WCBI) – Each year, graves of fallen soldiers are decorated on memorial day weekend. However, not many can say that they completed a ruck in honor of a fallen comrade.

“The only bad thing about it is, forgetting someone that has died, especially in combat,” Army veteran, Sergeant Melvin Gatewood, said.

Comrades of fallen Army national guard soldier Sergeant Travis Cooper, marched from Noxubee County Highschool along Highway 45 to honor his legacy.

Cooper died in 2005 in Iraq while serving the country he loved.

For his comrades, decorating just wasn’t enough.

“A ruck is more so a symbol of perseverance, brotherhood, things that we did in the military that pushed us to mental and physical limits,” Dr. Ronald Gatewood, Army veteran, said.

Sergeant Melvin Gatewood as well as others took on the challenge of marching 4 miles to Cooper’s grave in Macon.

According to Dr. Ronald Gatewood while decorations are greatly appreciated, a ruck just means more to those who have served.

“Yea we could have just came and did a wreath, but doing a ruck, putting some weight on our shoulders, getting together with these guys and ladies who were a part of it, it kind of shows a sacrifice that we haven’t forgotten the sweat, blood, sweat, and tears that this brother sacrificed while he was in the military,” Dr. Gatewood added.

At the end of the difficult 4 mile ruck, family and friends of Sergeant Cooper all gathered to pay their respects.

“It’s overwhelming the support. Sergeant Gatewood and his comrades, it’s awesome. It’s awesome,” Travis Cooper’s aunt, Lavon Cooper, said. “I mean they’re trying, they’re putting their selves in the position to help carry on what sergeant Cooper has done.”

Gatewood says Operation Continue Service is all about honoring the fallen by having those who are still here press on and keep the fallen’s legacy alive.

“Freedom is not free and the ultimate sacrifice that these individuals have paid for our country, we can’t forget it,” Gatewood said.

“We thought that it was very important to do something in memory of Sergeant Travis Cooper to keep his memory alive,” Dr. Gatewood said. “To let his friends and family know and to let this community know that he is still being thought of. That the sacrifices he made have not been forgotten.”

Sergeant Gatewood added that he hopes that Operation Continue Service will be able to expand nationwide in the future.

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