NOBLESVILLE, Ind, - An Indiana veteran is honoring a fallen soldier in a very unique way this Memorial Day.
Army veteran Richard Clark is taking his love of running and sense of duty to honor fallen soldiers and their families by running marathons in their honor.
Clark recently created the group Flags 4 Fallen, a volunteer team that recruits marathon runners to carry U.S. flags to the finish line, for military families who've lost loved ones.
At the Noblesville Mini Marathon this holiday weekend, Clark dedicated his run to 21-year-old Paratrooper Sergeant Shaina Schmigel who lost her life two years ago on May 30 in a parachute training exercise. Clark was also a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg.
Schmigel’s family traveled nearly 550 miles from New York state to be at the race. And at the finish line, a touching flag ceremony was held. After a formal flag folding ceremony, Clark presented the flag to Karie Schmigel.
“I know there is something I’m supposed to say that’s military, but all I wanna say is we did it. We did it!" said Clark.
Clark and Shanina's mother, Karie had never met in person, but through this experience a friendship was born.
"A good friend," said Schmigel.
Karie Schmigel said this kind gesture from Clark will help bring them peace.
"I can’t believe what this man did this for my daughter. It's been a good weekend. I was honored to be invited and honored to be here. And the community’s great," said Schmigel.
Shaina Schmigel's death at Fort Bragg touched Clark, because of the similarities he had with the young paratrooper.
“We were in the same unit, she was the same age as I was when I was a Sergeant and she passed away on Holland Drop Zone which is where I made my first jump after I got to Ft. Bragg,” said Clark.
Honoring Schmigel and other vets through Flags 4 Fallen is a small gesture, said Clark
"These soldiers don’t even know me and they died for me, you know what I mean? They don’t know any of us back here in the states outside their family and friends and they’re in some pretty bad situations so we can get up and drink coffee in our pajamas and surf Facebook. That’s what they’re doing for us for 6 months at a time so, what I do on a Saturday morning in May is so minuscule to what they have all done for me," said Clark.