“Walking for the Fallen~USA’s” mission is about:
- Suicide Awareness ~ The Department of Defense has stated that since 2005, our military has lost more “Active Duty” military to suicide than we have lost in “Combat”. To numerically state this more than 6,000 have been lost to suicide and this doesn’t even reflect those that have taken their own life after being discharged from the military.
- Patriotism ~ To remind folks, across our Country, that “Cost of Freedom” is not just a buzz-phrase and it certainly is NOT free! American men and women have shed blood and given their lives for our Country. I hope that there never becomes a time when one might think that their sacrifice was in vain.
- Guilt ~ Guilt of contributing to a weaker generation with programs such as “No Child Left Behind”, “Every Child Is A Winner”. Reality is that in most real day situations there are in fact winners and losers. Feel good programs are simply a disservice to these children when they “Graduate” into the real world.
- Raise $50,000 ~ For Programs that support our wounded and disabled Veterans and their families. Programs that make the difference toward the healing of physical and mental wounds sustained through combat; programs, that provide the Combat Veterans and their families’, tools and training that will assist in a successful transition back into their community as productive and independent survivors.
Biography ~ Sergeant Chuck Lewis
Sgt. Chuck Lewis, aka the “Montana Honor Guard” (MHG), is a United States Marine Corps (USMC) and United States Navy Reserve (USNR) Veteran.
He was Active duty Marine Corps from 16 February 1970 until 15 February 1974 and Reserve duty Navy from June 1980 to July 1988. USMC time was spent mostly working on aircraft; CH-53’s, A-4’s and OV-10’s and on Shipboard Fire Control Systems for the USNR.
After separating from the MarineCorps, he went back to school, received a degree in Electronics Technology, and went to work for the Department of Defense at the Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake, California in January of 1976. Over the next 27 years, he assisted with the Research and Development of Weapon and Safety Systems and Remote Control Devices. He also worked in the fields of Foreign Material Exploitation and Training. He and Linda, his wife, raised six children in the desert community and after retiring in September of 2001, Linda, Michelle (their youngest), and he relocated to Ronan, Montana, and it was here, at an Army friend’s funeral, that his Military roots began to resurface.
At the funeral he was impressed with the Military Honors provided by the local Honor Guard, made up of a cross contingent of military Veterans. At the same time he was also puzzled by all of the “why” questions he received afterwards. Why did the firing party only fire 15 shots instead of 21? Is there a certain order in which our Colors are presented? Why doesn’t our American Flag dip like the rest?
After volunteering to join the Veteran’s Honor Guard, of Polson, MT, he noticed that at age 55 he was the youngest member. He put together a Power Point Presentation, went to Civic Organizations as a guest speaker, and tried to recruit more members for the Veteran’s Honor Guard. Over time, the Presentation expanded into three sections: Flag Etiquette, Honor Guards, and Veterans ~ How They Continue to Serve Their Community.
All of this somehow led to the creation of the “Montana Honor Guard” and “Standing for the Fallen ~ Montana,” entities used to educate the general public, recruit Honor Guard members and raise funds for programs that support our wounded and disabled military Veterans.
After spending several years traveling around Western Montana, the Montana Honor Guard created the “Walking for the Fallen ~ USA” project. Spurred by the suicide death of a young and recently discharged Marine. This Marine had separated from the Corps on 3 June, arrived home on 4 June, and was buried on 30 June, leaving behind a wife and 1 year old daughter. Walking For The Fallen ~ USA will take to the roads and highways across the United States in 2013.
The Montana Honor Guard has been a competitive athlete most of his life; racing bicycles, competing in triathlons, and distance running. As he got older and lost most of his speed, the only way to compete became to outlast the other competitors, eventually running ultra-marathon races up to 100 miles in length.
Many people have asked if he has starting training for this 3,300-mile walk. “Well frankly,” he said, “I really don’t know how.” Going back 10 years to when he was running 100 milers, many of his training runs were actually marathon distances. But he also remembers back to the days when completing a marathon was the goal! So the best answer that he can give folks is that he will be treating this distance of 3,300 miles as 3,300 one-mile walks — over 6 months. And in reality, it will all come down to one step at a time, staying warm, staying dry, eating right, having confidence, and above all knowing that God is in his corner.
Today he is a Life Member of VFW Post 5652 ~ Ronan, MT , American Legion Post 106 ~ St. Ignatius, MT, the Veteran’s Honor Guard ~ Polson, MT and the Mission Valley Honor Guard ~ St. Ignatius, MT. All that he chooses to say about this is: “It continues to be an Honor to serve our Country.” He also adds that he hopes that you will find it in your heart to support this effort. Your assistance will literally go a long way ~ “One Step at a Time.”