Story and photo by Andrea Sutherland
Since their Soldiers deployed almost a year ago, the spouses from the 576th Engineer Company, 4th Eng. Battalion, have collectively walked 7,538 miles — the symbolic equivalent of the distance that separates them from their loved ones in Afghanistan.
“We’re actually over that by 134 miles,” said Emily Morrissey, organizer of the walking events.
Despite surpassing their goal, Morrissey and a dozen other supporters gathered at Iron Horse Park Saturday morning to walk the ceremonial final mile.
“That marks the end of another chapter of this deployment,” Morrissey said as the group crossed a finish line made of red, white and blue streamers.
Engineers from the company were scheduled to return to Fort Carson Thursday after their yearlong separation from loved ones.
Throughout the deployment, spouses showed their support through the walks.
“It started out as a ‘get healthy’ thing,” said Morrissey, who gave birth to her third child right before her husband, Staff Sgt. Gary Morrissey deployed.
“We said ‘let’s do the walk to Afghanistan to support our troops and get fit at the same time,’” she said.
The spouses agreed, tracking miles on their own and shedding pounds along the way.
“I lost 25 pounds,” Morrissey said.
Caralyn Brown, wife of Spc. Kevin Brown, said she’s lost 60 pounds since she began walking with the group.
“He hasn’t seen a picture of me since I lost the weight,” she said. “I’m excited for him to come home and for him to see me.”
Lt. Col. Daniel Hibner, commander, 4th Eng. Bn., joined the walkers at Saturday’s event to show his support.
“I’ve seen things like this in other units where you put a bottlecap in the jar for every day the Soldier is gone to count the days but not one where they’re taking on a physical activity,” he said. “I think it’s awesome.”
Hibner said events like this not only help pass the time during a deployment, but help foster bonds and camaraderie among Family members.
“This shows them we’re thinking about them,” said Melissa Shifflett, Family readiness group leader for the company.
Morrissey said it was important to document milestones throughout the deployment to show how far the spouses have come and that they are continuing to support their Soldiers in the final days of the deployment.
“We wanted them to know we were here supporting them the whole time,” she said.