Combat veteran raising awareness for Gold Star families -

Combat veteran raising awareness for Gold Star families

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( – A Navy combat veteran stopped in St. Louis during his unique trip to raise awareness for Gold Star families.

“A Gold Star family is any family that’s lost a loved one in service to our country,” Chris Ring said. Ring is swimming the entire length of the Mississippi River to raise awareness for Gold Star families. “They made this sacrifice so that other families won’t have to.”

But Ring isn’t the only one commemorating sacrifices made by veterans serving our country. Schaeffer Manufacturing in south St. Louis hosted a barbecue for Ring and Gold Star families. There are more than 350 Gold Star families in the St. Louis area.

“Phillip was ten years old when 9/11 happened. That’s when he came to his dad and I and said he had to get the bad guys,” said Julie Vinnedge, the mother of Phillip. Phillip became a Marine and was killed 16 days after being deployed to Afghanistan in 2005. “Nobody wants to be a Gold Star; nobody wants to receive that knock on the door.”

Vinnedge now travels the country visiting the families of 24 other Marines killed the same day as her son. She also manages a nonprofit called “Fallen Hero’s Dream Ride” in order to create a rolling memorial to build awareness of the sacrifices of fallen military men and women.

“It’s an honor to connect with as many Gold Star families as possible, to hear their stories, and carry on the legacies of their loved ones,” Ring said. He plans on finishing his swim across the Mississippi River in late November.

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