Steady stream of Gold Star families follows river swim

Chris Ring, the Navy veteran who is swimming the length of the Mississippi River in a show of support for the families of soldiers killed in combat, is slowly making his way toward the Twin Cities. But it’s taking a bit longer, perhaps, than expected because he’s running into so many families.

  1. Listen MPR’s Tom Crann talks with Chris Ring

    July 9, 2015

Today is Day 32 of Ring’s swim. He got a late start on Day 31 at Crow Wing State Park yesterday because he met so many families. And he’s just fine with that.

According to Ring’s Facebook page — Legacies Alive — he met with Richard and Gloria Cauley, whose son, George, was killed in 2009; Thomas and Tina McElveen, of Little Falls, Minn., whose boy brother, Anthony, died in Fallujah; Ivan “Bill” Smith, of Grey Eagle, Minn., who lost his son, Paul, in Iraq in 2003 (he was awarded the Medal of Honor); and Scott and Peg Manea, of Rice, Minn., whose son, Jonathon took his own life when home on leave in 2009.

The families he’s meeting along the way sign one of two kayaks accompanying Ring.

Ring tells the Brainerd Dispatch his goal is to be able to walk up to anyone on the street and have the person know what a Gold Star family is.

“The thing that most of them pointed to was, ‘The day that I fear the most is the day my loved one’s name isn’t said,’” he said. “Really, their legacy dies with the last memory.”

  • Kassie

    I applaud his efforts and I now know what a Gold Star Family is, but…

    EEEWWWW! The Mississippi? Gross. Where he is now wouldn’t be so bad, but I imagine that is water you wouldn’t want to swallow once you hit Minneapolis all the way down to the Gulf.

  • Rhonda M. Schmidt

    Tina McElveen is the SISTER of Anthony. His mother was Deborah Vance; herself a distinguished service member. Puh-leeze, get it right before you publish it!