A voice for the fallen

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Thousands of runners used their place in thie year’s Marine Crops Marathon as a platform from which to honor fallen comrades, family and friends.

The late Lance Cpl. Daniel M. McVicker was one such honoree. The 20-year-old victim of an improvised explosive device in Al Qaim, Iraq, left behind a loving family who refused to let him be forgotten.

That’s why they chose to take part in what has become an annual Freedom Walk in Sebring, Ohio. They wore shirts with emblazoned “USMC” on the front, and that attracted the attention of a Marine broadcaster, Staff Sgt. Reina Barnett, who was covering the Freedom Walk for the Pentagon Channel.

That first conversation, about the Marine Corps and “Danny,” sparked what would become a new friendship between two families. It has since been two years since that initial meeting, and Barnett and her husband, 1st Sgt. Bobby Barnett, have taken steps to help the McVicker family tell their son’s story.

The Barnetts took it upon themselves to run the Marine Corps Marathon in honor of Danny, and the McVickers drove from Ohio to Washington to cheer them on and share a few more stories.

“This is such a wonderful tribute … and a real honor,” said Irma McVicker, the lance corporal’s mother.

She said that over the past two years she tried to introduce the Barnetts to Danny by sending them DVDs and CDs of his favorite types of music and continuously telling stories about him.
“We just clicked and I learned about their son—it was empowering,” Reina Barnett said. “I feel as if I know him. I bet if I had met him we would have really gotten along.”

After she crossed the finish line she joined her husband and the McVickers. There were hugs and tears all around. She said she felt like Danny was with her throughout the run.
“It was like I was having a personal conversation with him,” she said.

She added that even though the marathon was physically exhausting, she was in a good mood and smiled throughout the entire 26.2 miles.

Although she was running for one fallen Marine she said, she was in awe of how many other runners were participating in memory of someone.

“I realized we have the best servicemen and women in the world,” she said. “To run for Danny was very humbling.”

The McVickers say that even though their son is gone, he is still with them and keeps giving to them. “He had a heart that was huge. This is a real blessing for us,” Irma McVicker said.

Mark McVicker, Danny’s father, said that because of the Barnetts running in honor of their son, his memory will live on.

“Our fear is that he’ll be forgotten,” he said. But thanks to the Barnetts and their compassion for their new friends, Danny will always be remembered.

Posted by admin on Thursday 01 November 2007 - 10:03:43 | LAN_THEME_20

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