In 2011, a couple of men from the Ripley County area organized a ride to remember the servicemen from southeastern Indiana who had died in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.
The first two years, the Ride to Remember didn’t include a stop in Jackson County, but that changed after Marine Lance Cpl. Hunter “H.D.” Hogan was killed in action June 23, 2012, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Hogan, who grew up in the Clearspring area and graduated from Brownstown Central High School in 2009, was serving with the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force. The 21-year-old was buried in Nebraska, where his father lived, although a service was conducted in Brownstown, and Walnut Street was named “Hunter “H.D.” Hogan Memorial Way in his memory.
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In 2013, the Indiana Patriot Guard Riders added the courthouse in Brownstown to the places it stops each year during the Ride to Remember.
This year’s ride was conducted June 9 and 10. The stop at the Jackson County Courthouse for the memorial service to remember Hogan had to be moved inside Blondie’s Pizzeria & Pub at 100 N. Main St. because of heavy rain.
“It didn’t happen like we expected, but the show goes on, so to speak,” organizer Tim Kieffer said. “For integrity and the presentation, we decided amongst ourselves that it needed to be inside. Aside from the sacrifices these guys made in the heat and whatever, they didn’t have a choice, so we wanted this to be a nice presentation for the family’s sake.”
Hunter’s mother, Tracy Rogers Hogan, was one of the more than 70 people in attendance.
“The Indiana Patriot Guard goes above and beyond,” she said of the service, which included a presentation of the flags, the placement of a rose in front of a portrait of Hunter, a presentation of a plaque by state District 69 Rep. Jim Lucas of Seymour and a reading of Hunter’s biography by Kieffer.
It didn’t include the traditional singing of “God Bless America,” a three-gun volley salute and the playing of taps.
Hogan, who lives in South Carolina, said she has attended every service since her son’s death.
“Since Hunter was 2 years old, he wanted to be a Marine,” she said.
Kieffer, who lives in Batesville, said he and Ed Schmidt of Napoleon organized the first ride in for the southeastern part of the state, which include 15 counties. The ride also features stops in Batesville, Sunman, Aurora, Bennington, Madison, Scottsburg, Sellersburg, Clarksville, New Albany, Bartlettsville, Vernon and Versailles.
“Riders varies from stop to stop but averages about 30 with a total of 50 to 60 overall,” he said.
That doesn’t include the family members and others on hand at each of the stops.
Blondie’s normally is not open Sundays, but owner Mason Fleetwood said organizers contacted him about helping honor Hunter by providing lunch for the riders. The intent was to serve the meal on the courthouse lawn, but the rain put an end to that idea.
That’s when the event was moved inside the restaurant at Main and Walnut streets.
“There’s no better way than to take a Sunday and honor somebody who has given their life for what we have here,” Fleetwood said.
Sarah Rollins, a recent graduate of Brownstown Central High School, read a poem about Hunter, and Donald Finnegan and Robert Hammett with Honor and Remember of Indiana presented Tracy with a personal Honor and Remember Flag that is to be flown at all times as a reminder to all Americans of the lives lost in defense of our national freedoms.