Kentucky

Hometown Heroes: Veteran Honors Fallen Solider

The streets of downtown Madisonville are lined with the faces of more than 75 hometown heroes who fought for our freedom, but one of those faces stands out in the Hopkins County Community–Sergeant Patrick Rudd.

Patrick Rudd Project Treasurer Whitney Bundren says, “Patrick was killed in action in Iraq back in 2008, he was on his eighth deployment. So, several of us in the community wanted to get together and honor him in some way so we started the Patrick Rudd project about seven years ago.”

Since then, the Patrick Rudd project has given more than $170,000 in grants to local first responders, which is just part of the reasons why one of Rudd’s classmates and fellow veteran, Chris Toney, decided to honor Rudd’s ultimate sacrifice even more.

Toney was deployed to Mosul to fight ISIS in 2017. “He was a great guy, and I really appreciated him in algebra class a lot,” says Toney.

“When I was in Mosul, I remembered he was killed in action there, and when I came home I just had a calling on my heart that we needed to do something special to memorialize and honor Patrick, and all of our veterans and brothers and sisters who have lost their lives in combat,” says Toney.

So, Toney asked people to sponsor him in the 9/11 Heroes Run in September to help raise money for a monument honoring Rudd. “For that sponsorship, I did the whole 5k in my combat gear which was 55 pounds,” says Toney. After crossing the finish line Toney had raised $6,300 to fund the special memorial.

“Since the big reveal is this weekend, we can’t get a glimpse of it now, but this monument honoring Patrick’s sacrifice to his country will resemble a part of ceremonies soldiers have overseas when they lose one of their own,” says Toney.

“It’s a battle cross or a war cross which represents the fallen soldiers’ boots, their rifle, and their helmet is mounted on top, followed by their dog tags. It’s always followed by a roll call where your sergeant will call out the names of a couple members, and they will call out their names, then followed by they’ll call out the name of the fallen soldier and there’s no response. And that always hits me hard,” says Toney.

A wreath-laying ceremony will be held before Rudd’s monument is revealed Sunday afternoon at Veterans Memorial Park.

“And I think it’s important that we never forget the sacrifices that are being made by our fellow Americans across the globe to protect us and keep our homeland safe,” says Toney.

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