ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - Navy combat veteran, Chris Ring, is trying to do something that has never been done before. He wants to be the first American to swim the entire length of the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. But Chris is not doing this for the accolades. He is doing it to honor our Nation’s fallen heroes and the families of the fallen.
Chris arrived in front of the Gateway Arch shortly after 5 pm and was greeted by a group of Gold Star families. Those are families who lost a son or daughter in combat.
Among them, Susan Jacobs along with her husband Jim. Their son Zachary was killed in action back in 2010. “It is wonderful to be here. It is wonderful for this young man to do what he is doing -- to help everyone not forget. That is our sole purpose. It is for no one ever to forget what our young men and women have been through,” says Jacobs.
As he arrived, Ring was greeted by rounds of applause and plenty of hugs and tears. It was an emotional moment that capped off the first half of Ring’s journey. “These families gave the ultimate sacrifice so other families don’t have to. So it is really to raise awareness and carry on the legacies of our fallen heroes,” says Ring.
Weather has been challenging at times. Ring spoke about one time when a thunderstorm swept in fog and poor visibility over the river while he was far off shore. “We couldn’t see the shoreline… you could feel when lightning strike the water”
Ring hopes to complete his journey by the middle of November. There are an estimated 500 Gold Star families in the Greater St. Louis area.
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