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Soldiers Get One Last Ride In the Last Great Race

Iditarod mushers carry ribbons honoring those who have fallen

3/10/2010 10:29:26 AM

When Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champions Martin Buser, Jeff King and four other mushers set out on their grueling trek across the frozen north this past weekend, they carried memories of America's soldiers who lost their lives in duty to their country.

Ribbons bearing the names of 100 fallen soldiers festooned the mushers' sleds as a tribute to surviving spouses who traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, from across the country to remember them, according to Joy Berger, Alaska Airlines' contract services administrator and Iditarod "Dog Squad" volunteer.

"To help honor the memories of these fallen soldiers is such a heartwarming thing for these mushers to do," Berger said. "I'm sure the wives were proud and touched seeing the sleds leave the starting line with their husbands' names on them."

The widows are attending the 2010 TAPS National Military Widow Gathering. The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is a national network providing surviving family members with emotional support and care following the death of a loved one serving in the armed forces. TAPS has its roots in the state of Alaska, where it was founded by Bonnie Carroll after her husband - Alaska Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll - died in a military aircraft crash in November 1992.

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