Airmen, Army Green Berets honor fallen soldiers

Participants in the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen ride their motorcycles down the streets of San Diego Sept. 19, 2015. They went on to cover more than 4,000 miles and ending at Arlington National Cemetery. They raised money for scholarships in the name of two fallen soldiers. (Courtesy Photo)

Participants in the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen ride their motorcycles down the streets of San Diego Sept. 19, 2015. They went on to cover more than 4,000 miles and ending at Arlington National Cemetery. They raised money for scholarships in the name of two fallen soldiers. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott J. Tucker, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management flight NCO-in-charge of logistics, left, and U.S. Army Green Beret Leo Sliney, right, pose for a photo during the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen Oct. 3, 2015. Sliney and Tucker traveled more than 4,000 miles to honor their fallen friend. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott J. Tucker, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management flight NCO-in-charge of logistics, left, and U.S. Army Green Beret Leo Sliney, right, pose for a photo during the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen Oct. 3, 2015. Sliney and Tucker traveled more than 4,000 miles to honor their fallen friend. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Samantha Sliney, 4th Fighter Wing judge advocates chief of military justice, stands behind the merchandise table at the first stop of the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen in San Diego. Sliney joined her husband to support their friend who was killed in action in August 2015. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Samantha Sliney, 4th Fighter Wing judge advocates chief of military justice, stands behind the merchandise table at the first stop of the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen in San Diego. Sliney joined her husband to support their friend who was killed in action in August 2015. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Army First Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr., left, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott J. Tucker, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management flight NCO-in-charge of logistics, right, were both groomsmen in the wedding of Leo and Samantha Sliney. Tucker and the Slineys participated in the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen to honor McKenna who was killed in action in August 2015. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Army First Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr., left, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Scott J. Tucker, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management flight NCO-in-charge of logistics, right, were both groomsmen in the wedding of Leo and Samantha Sliney. Tucker and the Slineys participated in the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen to honor McKenna who was killed in action in August 2015. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Army First Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr., center, poses for a photo with actors Channing Tatum and Adam Rodriquez. McKenna was killed in action August 7, 2015, in Afghanistan. Active-duty military members recently completed the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen which raised money towards a scholarship in the names of McKenna and Ryan Savard, who was killed in action in 2012. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Army First Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr., center, poses for a photo with actors Channing Tatum and Adam Rodriquez. McKenna was killed in action August 7, 2015, in Afghanistan. Active-duty military members recently completed the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen which raised money towards a scholarship in the names of McKenna and Ryan Savard, who was killed in action in 2012. (Courtesy Photo)

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- A harsh reality of being in the military is that there is a possibility that you may lose a fellow serviceman at some point in your career. For Staff Sgt. Scott J. Tucker, 319th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management flight NCO-in-charge of logistics, that possibility became a reality.

Tucker lost a friend, U.S. Army First Sgt. Peter Andrew McKenna Jr., in August 2015 when he was killed during an attack by Taliban forces on Camp Integrity in Kabul, Afghanistan. In early September, Tucker said he received a call from his best friend, Leo Sliney, an active-duty Green Beret in the U.S. Army, who was also friends with McKenna. Sliney wanted Tucker to drive the supply truck while he and another friend took a motorcycle ride across the country to honor their fallen brothers.

The Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen kicked off in San Diego on Sept. 19, 2015, and ended at Arlington National Cemetery Oct. 3.

Tucker said the ride raised awareness for the types of sacrifices members of the Special Forces make on a daily basis.

The ride consisted of stops in Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington D.C. and Virginia. Tucker said that they sold shirts and hats to raise money for the Duskin and Stephens Foundation. Most of the participants were active-duty military members that used their personal leave to be a part of the cause.

Tucker was in Sliney's wedding along with McKenna. Tucker has known Sliney since they were teenagers and wanted to be there for his friend.

"It was an opportunity for me to support my friend who had just lost one of his best friends," said Tucker.

The ride honored the memory of Mckenna and Ryan Savard, another Green Beret who was killed in action in 2012. The money raised went towards scholarships in their names.

Cris Valley, an active-duty U.S. Army Green Beret, organized the Coast II Coast Ride for the Fallen. He organized the ride to honor his friend Savard. Valley feels the ride serves an important purpose.

"It's all too often our silent professionals do just that and stay silent," said Valley.  "It is our mission to share their stories so their actions may never be forgotten."

Tucker feels the ride was a good tribute to his friend McKenna.

"I think it adds to his story," said Tucker. "It shows people who did not know him the impact he had on the lives of others and the ultimate sacrifice he made protecting his country."

McKenna's parents, Peter and Carol, braved the bad weather caused by Hurricane Joaquin to join the riders at their Destin, Florida venue. McKenna lived in Destin and was stationed at Duke Field, an auxiliary to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, as a member of the First Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group.

Tucker said he realizes that many people have trouble expressing their feelings when they lose a friend. He urges Airmen to talk about it and not repress those feelings. He feels that it helps to tell people about the great things a fallen friend accomplished during their life.

According to Tucker, the ride got off to a rocky start when they were only about 100 miles into the trip they experienced some vehicle issues. However, they were able to quickly fix the issue and continue on their trip.

Tucker said one of the highlights of the trip was when Samantha Savard, Ryan Savard's widow, taught a hot yoga class in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hot yoga is the same as regular yoga except for the room temperature has been raised to cause people to sweat. Tucker said adding eight adult men all weighing more than 200 pounds to a hot room made it that much more difficult. He said the best part was the inspiration of Samantha Savard.

"It was inspiring to see the resiliency in Samantha Savard who is honoring her husband by carrying on his story and living her life to the fullest every day," said Tucker.

Tucker gave his time and covered more than 4,400 miles in two weeks to support his friends because he said it was something that meant a lot to him and he wanted to do it.

Tucker wasn't the only Airman that participated in the ride.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Samantha Sliney, 4th Fighter Wing judge advocates chief of military justice, rode with her husband Leo for parts of the trip. She considered McKenna a friend, but said her first priority was supporting her husband.

"My husband and I were both honoring his memory and raising money for a worthy cause," said Capt. Sliney.

Capt. Sliney said she handled the donations and selling merchandise while on the trip. She feels it is important to spread the word about our fallen soldiers.

"We may not be at war, but people are still losing their loved ones," said Capt. Sliney.

Tucker wants Airmen to think about how they spend their time.

"People should spend their time volunteering and doing something they feel is really worthwhile," said Tucker. "Volunteer your time doing something that you believe in."