By Staff Sgt. Todd PouliotMarch 17, 2011
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade's Family Readiness Group created a program for each task force's Families to join together and symbolically walk the 6,526 miles from Fort Drum to Afghanistan.
"The FRG members of Task Force Shooter have really taken this challenge to heart," said 2nd Lt. John Panzer, a human resource officer with TF Shooter, 10th CAB. "Currently, TF Shooter is leading the pack at 2,652 miles."
Family Members have various reasons for why they decided to participate. For Barb Tyson, mother-in-law of a pilot from TF Shooter, walking is an activity she uses to show support for her son-in-law. At the same time, it aids her in recovering from an accident that left her with injuries and made her doubt she would ever walk again.
"I guess I have always enjoyed the calming effects of a long walk," said Tyson, a native of Mankato, Minn. "It not only provides good exercise, but I love smelling the freshly cut grass and seeing the way the sun can shine on a building or the trees, and the wind blowing through my hair."
It was during one of her walks when she was struck by a van, breaking both arms and fracturing her pelvic bone.
"It hurt so much to stand on it that I didn't think I'd ever get out walking again," she recalled.
Tyson said that with support and encouragement, she was out walking again within four months.
This year, however, her leg began cramping during walks, and it became an excuse to not go out as often.
"Then my daughter told me about the Walk to Afghanistan," Tyson said. "I'm very proud of what my son-in-law, Andy, is doing, and this is a way I can show that I support him."
Tyson goes to great lengths to let her son-in-law know that he is not forgotten and that she supports what he's doing.
"I knew my mom would really want to contribute to the Walk to Afghanistan, because she has been very good at showing support for my husband while he has been deployed," said Katie Erp, whose husband is Chief Warrant Officer 2 Andrew Erp. "She writes him letters and prays for him."
Tyson tries to walk at least two miles a day, and she has walked more than 106 miles since November, said Katie Erp, also of Mankato, Minn. Although her legs still occasionally cramp up, it's getting better the more she walks.
"She feels better when she's walking now, so it is her favorite part of the day," Erp said.