As the nation pauses to honor its fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, American Sports Network joins in saluting the men and women of the armed services who made the ultimate sacrifice.
In a special tribute, we present the names of the 19 fallen soldiers Team USX took with them on their successful climb to the summit of Mount Everest:
Army 2nd Lt. Harold Earls, a recent graduate of West Point and former Army baseball player, led the six-person expedition. It included climbers Army Capt. Elyse Ping Medvigy, retired Army Staff Sgt. Chad Jukes and award-winning filmmaker Dave Ohlson.
Ping Medvigy is believed to be the first active-duty female soldier to summit Everest.
Jukes, a single-leg amputee, becamse the second combat-wounded veteran to summit Everest.
The real mission, Earls said, was raising awareness for PTSD and related suicides. In the past five years, more U.S. soldiers have died from suicide than enemy attacks in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We wanted to do something about it by creating expeditions that mirror being part of a mission-oriented unit and team in combat,” Earls told The Web Show in April. “Mount Everest is just the beginning.”
Their mission took on renewed purpose when the team learned of the suicide of Marine veteran Dan Sidles, one of their climbing buddies. Sidles, who suffered from PTSD, was featured with Team USX’s Chad Jukes in the documentary “High Ground” that followed a team of 11 wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan during their climb of Mount Lobuche.
Along their way to the summit, they stopped to honor a particular soldier, including five who have fallen — Army Sgt. David LaDart, retired Army Master Sgt. Patrick Lee Young, retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Grady Kyle, Army Sgt. KariAnn Uecker and Army Spc. Timothy Bowman.
At the summit, the team saluted retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Burnett, Team USX co-founder who suffers from PTSD.
Burnett, who survived more than 45 IED (improvised explosive devices) attacks, joined The Web Show on Friday to discuss Team USX's achievement.
Above: Elyse Ping Medvigy at the summit of Mount Everest with photos of PFC Keith Williams and Staff Sgt. Benjamin Prange. She was climbing in memory of the fallen soldiers. (Courtesy www.USX.vet)
Middle: Harold Earls' pack before the final summit push. On his helmet are names of the people he was climbing in memory of, including fallen soldiers. (Courtesy www.USX.vet)