Riley Stephens

On such a somber day, Memorial Day, we are honoring Spartan heroes.  Two men who gave their lives to maintain the freedom that we enjoy in the United States.

Team Riley

On September 28, 2012, SFC Riley Stephens was killed in action serving his country in Wardak, Afghanistan with the 1/3 Special Forces Group (Airborne) as a senior Medic.  One of the last things Riley did before his deployment was run a Spartan Race in South Carolina.

As a tribute, friends and family took on the Spartan Beast in Glen Rose at the end of 2012 as “Team Riley” to honor him and to reconnect.  It was a cathartic experience for family and friends and they came together to remember a brother, a son, and a best friend.

At the 2013 Socal Super Spartan, we proudly supported the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation in honor of Spartan

Glen Doherty, photo courtesy of http://www.glendohertyfoundation.org/

Glen Doherty, who was one of the four Americans killed in a terror attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 12, 2012. According to the Foundation website, The Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation is our way to honor Glen’s life and his beliefs. Doherty took part in the Socal Super in 2011 before his tragic death in Benghazi.

In 2012, over 350,000 Spartans crossed our finish line we expect over half a million in 2013.  Many of our participants are military or first responders and we are always thankful to have so many experience a Spartan Race.  The loss of these two men and so many others are deeply felt.

Men of honor, conviction, and courage, we mourn their passing and are thankful for their service and sacrifice.  As you spend your time at BBQ’s and out enjoying this holiday, do not lose its significance.  Please spend this Memorial Day remembering the bravery of these and so many others that are no longer here to enjoy the freedom they’ve ensured.

We will never forget.

To learn more about the Glen Doherty Memorial Foundation, click HERE.

 

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by Stephen Reid aka Steve-o Bones

Memorial Day is a holiday that takes on a special meaning for me. It is a day that is meant to honor and remember those who served our country with military service. Some lost lives. Others lost limbs. Many others lost their youth and innocence to the horrors of war. This is a debt that can never be repaid. Yet their sacrifice can be remembered and our gratitude and respect can be displayed even through small gestures like putting out the flag or attending a parade.

I hail from a family of veterans. My father served in the US Navy on the USS Croaker during Vietnam. His father was a decorated MP in the US Army during WWII who saw action in Germany. My mother’s father was an Army Captain who was killed in action in Germany during WWII. At that time my mom was a year old and my uncle was a newborn. Here is a summary of his military achievement:

REILLY, WALTER J. (KIA) The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Walter J. Reilly (0-400672), Captain (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company K, 71st Infantry Regiment, in action against enemy forces on 18 November 1944. Captain Reilly’s outstanding leadership, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

I joined the NYPD at age 21. I felt it was my calling and enjoyed police work. By the time I was 28, I was promoted to Detective. A few years later, on September 11, 2001, our country was attacked right in front of my eyes and my life was changed forever. Since this day our military has ceaselessly fought a War on Terror. So many young men and women have since gone off to fight this war and defend our country from those that do not appreciate our way of life. Many have come back forever changed. They have given so much of themselves.

I have a very strong bond with the Men and Women of Operation Enduring Warrior, formerly Team X-T.R.E.M.E., a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor, empower and motivate America’s wounded military service members. These warriors took the time to bring me to Ground Zero after the NYC Spartan Demo. Many enlisted post 9/11 and these are the ties that bind us. I have forged a great relationship and have a lifelong bond with many of them.

This Memorial Day, I implore you to take the time out from your barbecues, your pool parties, and your trips to the beach to reflect on the gravity of this day.  Thank a Veteran.  But please, remember the reason for this day.  Take a moment to think of all those who didn’t come back when they left home for hostile battles in foreign lands, those brave men and women who made it possible for you to have your freedom; it has been paid for through their blood, sweat, and tears.

[Editor's Note: Spartan Race wishes to say a collective thank you to all those who have served and who serve still.  Thank you.   And this Memorial Day we honor those who have given everything and paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can all breathe free.   Flag Photo courtesy of Kevin High Photography.]

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