HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB)–On a hot Memorial Day, they ran with their boots on. Nearly seven miles across Hamburg so that no one forgets about their fallen comrade.
“ We’re doing it for Nick Sheperty right now, a Special Operations soldier, Purple Heart recipient with the US Marine Corps,” said Michael Gomolka.
36- year -old Nick Sheperty died just last year during a training exercise.
“ If we don’t do this, his memory will be lost. That’s what we feel. So this is how we keep awareness for what he’s done for our country and have awareness for what he’s done for our country and have people join in and keep his memory alive,” Gomolka said.
Nick grew up in West Virginia but his National Guard unit went to the Hamburg Airport a couple of times to do free-fall parachute training exercises.
“Nick has deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s on a free fall team. He sustained a Purple Heart in Fallujah. The guy has put his life on the line for all of us so the least we could do as Americans is represent him on Memorial Day,” Gomolka said.
Michael Gomolka of Hamburg founded a group called Project 33 Memorial Foundation. This is the third year they’ve run in the memory of a different Special Operations soldier each year and invited others to run as well, to help raise funds for that soldier’s family or a charity of the family’s choice.
“ We want to make sure everybody knows because these guys missions are very secretive and nobody really knows who they are so we’re bringing that out to light since they passed away for our country and we make sure we do it in an honorable way,” Gomolka said.
George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.