Retired Army veteran ends run across country in Rockland

Surrounded by dozens of supporters, Mike Ehredt of Hope, Idaho saluted the sky to honor fallen soldiers after dipping the front wheel of his running stroller in the Atlantic Ocean at Rockland Harbor late Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run.  (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
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Surrounded by dozens of supporters, Mike Ehredt of Hope, Idaho saluted the sky to honor fallen soldiers after dipping the front wheel of his running stroller in the Atlantic Ocean at Rockland Harbor late Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Posted Oct. 15, 2010, at 2:11 p.m.
With a retinue of family members and supporters, Mike Ehredt of Hope, Idaho started the final leg of his run on Route 90 in West Rockport, bound for his run's terminus in Rockland Harbor Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles to honor of fallen soldiers. He used a running stroller to carry U.S. flags which he planted in the roadside of every mile run.  (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
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With a retinue of family members and supporters, Mike Ehredt of Hope, Idaho started the final leg of his run on Route 90 in West Rockport, bound for his run's terminus in Rockland Harbor Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles to honor of fallen soldiers. He used a running stroller to carry U.S. flags which he planted in the roadside of every mile run. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
James Troutt (cq) of Sherman hugged Mike Ehredt, left, of Hope, Idaho after offering his gratitude during a special gathering for runner Mike Ehredt at the Tradewinds Motor Inn in Rockland Friday. Troutt is the grandfather of  fallen soldier Spc. Dustin Harris of Patten.  Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. Minutes earlier,  Ehredt  finished his run at the Atlantic Ocean in Rockland.    (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
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James Troutt (cq) of Sherman hugged Mike Ehredt, left, of Hope, Idaho after offering his gratitude during a special gathering for runner Mike Ehredt at the Tradewinds Motor Inn in Rockland Friday. Troutt is the grandfather of fallen soldier Spc. Dustin Harris of Patten. Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. Minutes earlier, Ehredt finished his run at the Atlantic Ocean in Rockland. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Earl &quotBill" Emery, left, of Lee comforted James Troutt (cq) of Sherman as Col. Jack Mosher (not pictured), director of operations for the Maine Army National Guard, read the name of Maine's fallen soldiers during a special gathering for runner Mike Ehredt at the Tradewinds Motor Inn in Rockland Friday. Emery is the father of fallen soldier Sgt. Blair Emery and Troutt is the grandfather of  fallen soldier Spc. Dustin Harris of Patten.  Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. Ehredt finished his run at the Atlantic Ocean in Rockland.    (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
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Earl "Bill" Emery, left, of Lee comforted James Troutt (cq) of Sherman as Col. Jack Mosher (not pictured), director of operations for the Maine Army National Guard, read the name of Maine's fallen soldiers during a special gathering for runner Mike Ehredt at the Tradewinds Motor Inn in Rockland Friday. Emery is the father of fallen soldier Sgt. Blair Emery and Troutt is the grandfather of fallen soldier Spc. Dustin Harris of Patten. Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. Ehredt finished his run at the Atlantic Ocean in Rockland. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Rockland High School senior and cross country captain Travis Bortkowski,17 looked out the school's front door window as he and his classmates waited Friday morning to join Mike Ehredt on the final leg of Ehredt's run to honor fallen soldiers. Ehredt finished in the Atlantic Ocean at Rockland Harbor late Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run.  (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
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Rockland High School senior and cross country captain Travis Bortkowski,17 looked out the school's front door window as he and his classmates waited Friday morning to join Mike Ehredt on the final leg of Ehredt's run to honor fallen soldiers. Ehredt finished in the Atlantic Ocean at Rockland Harbor late Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
With a retinue of family members and supporters, Mike Ehredt, center, ran the final leg of his 4500-mile journey on Route 90 from West Rockport enroute to his run's terminus in Rockland Harbor late Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Since May, Ehredt had run across the country to honor of fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run.  (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
BDN
With a retinue of family members and supporters, Mike Ehredt, center, ran the final leg of his 4500-mile journey on Route 90 from West Rockport enroute to his run's terminus in Rockland Harbor late Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Since May, Ehredt had run across the country to honor of fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Mike Ehredt of Hope, Idaho dips the front wheel of his running stroller in the Atlantic Ocean at Rockland's harbor Friday morning marking the end of his approximately 4500-mile run to honor fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run.  (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
BDN
Mike Ehredt of Hope, Idaho dips the front wheel of his running stroller in the Atlantic Ocean at Rockland's harbor Friday morning marking the end of his approximately 4500-mile run to honor fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Mike Ehredt of Hope, Idaho departs Rockland High School after running with his flag stroller through the school hallway lined with supporters Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Ehredt then finished the final leg of his 4500-mile run when he dipped his stroller into the Atalntic Ocean in Rockland Harbor late Friday morning. Since May, Ehredt had run about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run.  (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
BDN
Mike Ehredt of Hope, Idaho departs Rockland High School after running with his flag stroller through the school hallway lined with supporters Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Ehredt then finished the final leg of his 4500-mile run when he dipped his stroller into the Atalntic Ocean in Rockland Harbor late Friday morning. Since May, Ehredt had run about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Wally Thrall, project manager of the Project America Run, talks with the Bangor Daily News in Rockland  Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Since May, Mike Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run.  (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
BDN
Wally Thrall, project manager of the Project America Run, talks with the Bangor Daily News in Rockland Friday morning, Oct. 15, 2010. Since May, Mike Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers. He used the stroller to carry U.S. flags which planted in the roadside of every mile run. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Mike Ehredt reacts to applause during a special gathering for him and  Project America Run supporters at the Tradewinds Motor Inn in Rockland Friday.  Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers and he finished his run at the Atlantic Ocean in Rockland late Friday morning.  (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
BDN
Mike Ehredt reacts to applause during a special gathering for him and Project America Run supporters at the Tradewinds Motor Inn in Rockland Friday. Since May, Ehredt ran about 4500 miles in honor of fallen soldiers and he finished his run at the Atlantic Ocean in Rockland late Friday morning. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)

ROCKLAND, Maine — The wind thrashed frothy waves against the shore here Friday as Mike Ehredt ran to the ocean, completing his 4,424-mile journey to honor U.S. service members who have died in Iraq.

Despite a thunderstorm that pelted rain on Ehredt, 49, and his supporters, more 100 people showed up in yellow shirts embossed with an American flag and the words, “Thanks, Mike.”

“It’s not raining today,” said James Troutt of Sherman, the grandfather of Army Spc. Dustin Harris of Patten, who died in April 2006 while serving in the war in Iraq. “God is crying a lot today.”

In a ceremony Friday morning, local police and government officials, members of the families of fallen Maine soldiers and Rockland residents gathered to celebrate Ehredt’s run. After each mile Ehredt ran in the past 5½ months, he planted a flag bearing the name of a soldier killed in Iraq. The project began in Oregon on May 1.

The retired U.S. Army veteran from Hope, Idaho, said he placed flags in lots of small towns across the country, with the goal of having people stop to remember the soldiers.

“We’re not alone. We are watched from above. I had guardian angels along the way,” Ehredt told the crowd at Friday’s ceremony, after the last flag was placed at Rockland Harbor. “They do know they are remembered. They are not forgotten.”The name on the final flag was that of Maj. Jay Thomas Aubin of Waterville, who was among the first casualties in the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Aubin, 36, was one of four U.S. Marines and eight British Marines killed on March 20, 2003, when a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed in Kuwait near the Iraq border.

Also attending Friday were Bill and Carolyn Jackson of Owls Head, whose son Staff Sgt. William Samuel Jackson II, 29, of Thomaston was killed by an improvised explosive device in 2006. His job was to find and eliminate IEDs. Ehredt placed a flag for him in Colorado.

“For America, there is nothing more important than remembering those who died for our freedoms. It’s cliche, but it’s true,” Bill Jackson said.

“Our son loved Maine and loved the ocean, so this was very appropriate,” Carolyn Jackson said after standing in the wind-whipped rain.

The parents of Lee native Blair Emery, an Army sergeant who died in 2007 after an IED blast, were also in attendance. When the names were read of each of Maine’s fallen soldiers, Earl and Quie Emery — both clad in the yellow “Thanks, Mike” T-shirts — hugged each other.

“It means a lot for someone to do this,” Earl Emery said. “It is for all of them. For all of us. It’s a special thing.”

For more information about the run, visit www.projectamericarun.com.

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