Home / A Living Memorial / TSP at Grafton Notch 2014

 

Thank you to TSP hiker one of TSP’s strongest supporters, Ted “Gunny” Coffin for carrying the stone and story of Army SGT Joshua Kirk on a tribute trek to Old Speck Mountain in Grafton Notch on 20 December 2014. Gunny is of the toughest guys I know, but his essay will definitely pull some heart strings. Thanks Gunny for guaranteeing that Maine Heroes are NOT Forgotten. Beautiful pics. Thanks to all those who are part of this Living Memorial.

In Gunny’s words — “… I realized this was not a solo hike. I had Josh with me. It was at this point when I removed his Stone from my pack and hand carried him for the remainder of the hike…. The trails were beautiful and covered with fresh snow. The sound of a snow covered mountain is indescribable and inspiring. There were also many trees that blocked the trail, being under the weight of heavy, wet, and frozen snow. These became obstacles that Josh would help me with. I could hear him as if he were there with me. Telling me, “go under this one”, or “no, silly, go over and around that one.” I also found him giving me advice that I would typically not pay attention to, “Hey Ted, you’re starting to overheat, change you’re layers out, we’re out here alone, be safe and smart….”

Please take three minutes to read his entire essay at the below. You will be glad you did. I wish to thank all our TSP supporters for your belief in our mission throughout 2014. Looking forward to the new year and many more tribute treks in 2015, all to honor our fallen heroes from Maine. We want to continue the work of ensuring their memories remain alive and their stories can continue to inspire all of us to serve a higher calling. We know that through TSP we can lift each other to higher places, be part of something bigger than ourselves, and defend, protect and support our communities, just like our heroes did. MHANF. djc

Ted “Gunny” Coffin wrote —

I had the pleasure of hiking with Army Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk on 20 December 2014. This was to be one of my first solo winter hikes.

I was at the trail head of Old Speck Mountain in Grafton Notch at sunrise. I got my gear situated and placed Josh’s stone in my pack. The trail starts off easy and very quickly gets steep. When I found myself taking a quick break for a few breaths I realized this was not a solo hike. I had Josh with me. It was at this point when I removed his Stone from my pack and hand carried him for the remainder of the hike.

The trails were beautiful and covered with fresh snow. The sound of a snow covered mountain is indescribable and inspiring. There were also many trees that blocked the trail, being under the weight of heavy, wet, and frozen snow. These became obstacles that Josh would help me with. I could hear him as if he were there with me. Telling me, “go under this one”, or “no, silly, go over and around that one.” I also found him giving me advice that I would typically not pay attention to, “Hey Ted, you’re starting to overheat, change you’re layers out, we’re out here alone, be safe and smart.”

We talked a lot as we were hiking. I made more of a connection with Josh and his Stone than I have on many other hikes. I thought and talked to him about his mountaineering adventures and how his time in Outward Bound helped him with hiking skills and everyday life.

By the time we reached an amazing viewpoint and what I would call a false summit, my base layer of clothing was wet from perspiration and from the snow. I wanted to push on to the actual summit, but again, there was the voice of Josh, “you only have one base layer left, there is another 1.5 miles to the summit. Let’s be smart about this, we can tackle this summit again later, today is not the day.”

I quickly changed into dry clothes and put on warm jacket. I spent a few minutes with Josh, taking in this false summit, and all of it’s gorgeous views. I then stood with josh in my hands and told all of the mountains within eyesight about Army Sgt. Joshua J Kirk. I told them about how he lived, how he died, and how much he had meant to those in his life, and about how much he meant to me now.

We pushed back down the mountain and continued our talks. I kept Josh close at hand for the remainder of the weekend. We even made a stop at a book store to pick up the book mentioned by his mother. I had the opportunity to discuss Josh and his sacrifice to one of the sales associates when they inquired about the Stone I was carrying. I was very proud to have one of Maine’s Heroes with me in the store.

I know Josh is greatly missed, but please know that he, his service, his sacrifice, and his families sacrifice is not forgotten.

Thanks for the hiking tips, Josh.

-Gunny

 
 

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