The Nevada National Guard and the Carson City community came together Wednesday to honor those who lost their lives six years ago in the IHOP shooting.
Nearly two dozen guardsmen, deputies and community members met at the Carson City IHOP early Wednesday to run in remembrance of Nevada Guardsmen Lt. Col. Heath Kelly, 35, Master Sgt. Christian Riege, 38, Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, 31, and South Tahoe resident Florence Donovan-Gunderson, 67, who all lost their lives on Sept. 6, 2011 when a gunman went into the restaurant and started shooting.
“This morning where the sun rising is the spot where lives changed, lives changed for eternity,” said Todd Brown, Nevada National Guard chaplin. “This is a tough time, this lives in our hearts deeply and it impacted the community deeply, it impacted the National Guard family, the Sheriff’s Office family and the community family deeply, but we are honored to be a part of this event.”
The runners met at 7 a.m. — the time of the shooting — and ran from the IHOP back to the National Guard base on Fairview as a way to “bring home their soldiers.”
For the guardsmen, even six years hasn’t diminished the loss of their co-workers and friends, as Brig. Gen. Michael Hanifan delivered his annual speech at the start of the race, he wasn’t able to make it through without getting chocked up with tears.
“It was a very sad day six years ago when our soldiers lost their lives,” said Hanifan. “This event is for us to run to bring them back home ... for those of us who do remember them, they will always be in our hearts and minds.”
With the soldiers, several community members and organizations ran the two and a half mile course, among them, Ken Curtzwiler the father of McElhiney. He has run every year with a folded American flag and a plate engraved with his daughter’s name.
Joining Curtzwiler, was National Guardsmen Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Mock who was injured in the IHOP shooting in 2011. Mock ran in full gear to commemorate his fallen colleagues.
“We just always have to remember, even with trying to keep moving forward,” Mock said.
Mock said that day in 2011 was unbelievable for him, as he had just returned to work from a tour in Afghanistan when he ended up at breakfast at IHOP that morning.
“That was my second day back to work so it was surreal to come from a combat tour to come home and that to happen,” Mock said.
But, Mock emphasized it was important to never forget but also move forward from the incident.
“I am so proud of (their friends and family) for continuing your life and remembering their lives so that you can make the most out of every day,” Mock said.
The Guardsman said the National Guard has been grateful for all of the support the community has provided them.
“The community has been behind us 100 percent since that day, it is amazing for the community to come together and show their support,” Mock said.