Hikers carry stones etched in memory of Maine service members killed since 9/11
By Sharon Handy — Published 1:21 PM EDT May 26, 2014
MILLINOCKET, Maine —Three dozen hikers made it to the top of The Owl Peak in Baxter State Park over Memorial Day Weekend and fulfilled their promise to honor Maine’s fallen heroes. The hikers each carried a stone etched with the initials, rank and branch of service of a service member who had died since Sept. 11, 2001. The excursion, which began in Portland on Friday, was sponsored by The Summit Project. Founded by Marine Maj. David Cote, the project is intended to serve as a living memorial to Maine service members who have died serving their country since the Sept. 11 attacks. One hundred members of the Patriot Riders motorcycle organization transported the stones more than 200 miles from Portland to Millinocket. According to Cote, the youngest hiker of the group was Kevin Crise, 14, of Lee, who carried a stone in memory of his cousin Sgt. Joel House, who was killed by an IED in June 2007 in Iraq. The hike took five hours, Cote said.
The oldest hiker was 75-year-old George Pulkkinen of Scarborough, who carried a 20-pound stone honoring Capt. Christopher Cash, who was killed in 2004 in Iraq. Cote said after Pulkkinen played bagpipes at Cash’s funeral, he and Cash’s parents, Robert and Nancy Kelley of Old Orchard Beach, became good friends.