Four Des Moines area Marines walked just over five miles on Memorial Day, Monday May 29, 2017. They left Waukee and arrived in Van Meter at the Iowa Veteran’s Cemetery just in time for the annual program to begin.
“I wanted to find a way to honor not only Josh (Davis of Perry), but all of the men and women who have lost their lives defending this great country,” said organizer Kenneth Dickerson from Grimes.
After getting a “wild hair” on Sunday afternoon, Dickerson reached out to a few other Marines he had served with and got three other takers with such short notice. Dickerson was joined by his brother Ben of Urbandale, Moises Garcia of Des Moines and Rob Joubert of Waukee. All four served together in the Marine Corp at one time or another.
“It was a lot of fun (the walk). When we leave active duty we sometimes lose that connection, brotherhood, and camaraderie. The walk gave the four of us an opportunity to have some of that as well as remember our fallen comrades,” Joubert said.
While Dickerson never personally met Josh, he says he became close to the Davis family while he was a recruiter in Des Moines.
“I was an infantry Marine and though I did not serve with Josh,” Dickerson said. “I did serve overseas and lost a few close to my heart. So I instantly shared a bond with the amazing Davis family. I respect and admire their strength and the incredible family that they are. I do not live close to the families of the men I lost and by being close to the Davis family, they continue to help me drive my own strength.”
Josh’s family includes parents Dave and Patty Davis of Perry as well as daughter Ashley and son Joe. When Dave heard what the Marines were planning, he agreed to serve as an escort and rode his Harley Davidson in front of them, while daughter Ashley followed behind to protect them from traffic.
Both Dickerson and Joubert are optimistic for a much larger turnout for next year’s walk to the cemetery on Memorial Day.
“This one came together with less than 24 hours of planning. I think with a full year, we can get a much larger group together,” Joubert said.
Dickerson sees the walk as a way to help bring light and a bit of motivation to those struggling to cope.
“We, as Americans, must do all that we can to stand alongside each other and ensure we come together,” he said passionately.