Riverboat ride provides fellowship for families of fallen Service members

Story by Sgt. Brandy Mort, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Lynn Romans, along with her mother and father, attended a Survivors Outreach Services event in honor of the late Sgt. Darrin Potter, June 14 in Newport, Ky. More than 400 family members of fallen Service members attended the event. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

NEWPORT, Ky. – More than 400 U.S. Military “Gold Star” family members set sail for a riverboat ride on the Ohio River June 14 in Newport. A “Gold Star” family is one that has lost an immediate member in conflict or in support of certain military operations. The term originated during World War I and continues today.

Surviving family members from six states, including Kentucky, enjoyed a riverboat ride provided by B&B Riverboats and a meal courtesy of Gold Star Chili.

“I am honored to be able to serve Gold Star Chili to Gold Star families,” said Beverly Phillips, Manager of catering for Gold Star’s corporate office. “My son is a lieutenant in the Army and I always love giving back to those who give so much.”

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The Stiles family attends a riverboat ride in Newport, Ky., June 14 to honor the late Staff Sgt. William Culp of Ohio. Surviving family members came from six states to the event which is the second largest SOS event in the country. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Brandy Mort)

This event was organized by National Guard and Active Duty Survivor Outreach Services coordinators, the riverboat ride is the second largest such event in the country.

Terri Bernstein, Captain of the B&B Riverboats, is in charge of all the operations of the vessel including hosting events and coordinating food. Her late husband, Staff Sgt. Nicholas R. Carnes, a Kentucky Guardsman who was killed in Afghanistan in 2007 was a Ludlow, Kentucky, native and also served as a riverboat captain.

“Events like today are priceless,” said Bernstein. “After attending an event myself I was eager to get involved and see how I could offer my help.”

The riverboat ride was a first time event for Kentucky. Bernstein hopes to continue to provide the event for years to come.

Click here to see more photos from the event.

While many enjoyed the event, today was also a moment to remember their lost loved ones for a few.

“I think days like today are very rewarding,” said Lynn Romans, mother of the late Sgt. Darrin Potter, who died in Iraq in 2003. “It’s great to know that people remember the sacrifices our service members make.”

SOS coordinators organize events like these to recognize the surviving family members of military service members who have given their lives in defense of our nation.

“I like to attend events like these to share my story,” said Romans. “I feel safe at these events. When you come to an event you know that you’re amongst people who feel the same way you do and it’s great to have such a wonderful support system.”

David Orange, a Kentucky National Guard SOS coordinator and retired Air Force chief master sergeant said the event was destined to happen with Cincinnati, Ohio-based Gold Star Chili and Newport-based B&B Riverboats, a Gold Star family-owned company involved in a Gold Star event.

“It was meant to be,” he said. “Whether on the grounds of Churchill Downs or here on the Ohio River, Survivor Outreach Services and the National Guard are always willing to support it’s Gold Star Families however we can.”