FORT HOOD - For the last three years the Fisher House Hero and Remembrance Run has collected boots as a way to honor fallen soldiers. The boots line the runner course at their event, and then are displayed in front of III Corps Headquarters on the base. Each boot bears a photo of a soldier fallen in the line of duty since the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
This year, those boots will have something else as well.
Thursday more than 50 volunteers came out to III Corps Headquarters to place a rose on each of the 7,300 boots on display -- all thanks to the wives of two fallen soldiers.
Ngo Pham lost her husband,Staff Sergeant Miguel Angel Colonvazquez, in the 2016 Fort Hood training accident when flood waters overtook a tactical vehicle. Pham is still working through the grieving process, and decided to place a flower on her husband's boot Wednesday. She also placed flowers on boots of 88 other soldiers who had died in 2016.
A picture of those flowers was soon posted and shared on Facebook where it was seen by widow Melissa Buck. Buck had lost her husband, Sgt. Stephen Buck, to a vehicle collision in April of 2016. Just a year earlier Melissa and her husband had stood at III Corps morning the loss of Stephen Buck's friend and battle buddy Specialist Dustin Baize.
Melissa Buck decided she would also buy roses -- one for every boot on the field.
A little after 2 p.m. Thursday, those 7,300 roses arrived in front of III Corps Headquarters and volunteers began working to separate them between the soldiers.
Melissa Buck placed Stephen's boot next to Dustin's. She placed a rose in each.
"They always watched out for each other. I think it hurt Stephen that he couldn't be there for Dustin before. I want him to have the chance to be with him now," Buck said. "This isn't to remember the day that they passed. This is to remember the life that they lived."
For Pham, whose photo started the idea, the roses meant something different -- a reminder that she was not alone even after she lost her husband.
"My husband always told me that no matter what happened to him I would always be taken care of." Pham said. "This proves it. This proves there is always going to be support from the military family."
"It also means that their sacrifice... will not go unnoticed."