FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Several thousand combat boots lined a field at Fort Bragg in memory of soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The annual display started three years ago by Survivor Outreach Services.
Retired Army veteran and Fort Bragg employee Mike Thomas has made it his mission to connect families unable to be there in person honoring their loved ones.
After seeing a similar outreach at the Arlington National Cemetery, Thomas had the idea to take a photo of any boot and send it to the soldier’s family, WTVT reports.
Although the response was minimal, Thomas was happy to help. This year was different.
After posting photos of the display on May 19, it earned more than 220,000 shares and more requests started to come in.
Thomas told WTVT that he even read about each soldier’s death on the Department of Defense’s website.
The boots in the display are arranged by the soldier’s month and year of death.
“They will be never forgotten as long as we speak their names and honor their lives,” Thomas told WTVT.