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Tribute to fallen soldiers honors Utahn
A Hyde Park man killed last year in Iraq will be among two dozen people honored in a ceremony in California this weekend. Banners with the pictures of U.S. service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan -- including one depicting Lance Cpl. Michael Allred -- will fly on lampposts in the oceanside city of San Clemente.
Ultimately, the organizers of the tribute hope to bring similar banners -- recognizing all service members who have been killed in the nation's wars since Sept. 11 -- to communities across the nation, including Utah.
Allred was killed in a suicide bomb attack near Fallujah on Sept. 6 along with fellow Utahn Quinn Keith and five other U.S. Marines.
The following month Allred's close friend, Lance Cpl. Derek Gardner, was killed in a similar attack.
The pair of Marines had shared two tours of duty in Iraq. In Southern California -- and all other communities in which the mobile memorial will visit -- the banners recognizing the close friends will hang side-by-side.
Allred's mother, Zel, said she was touched that the organizers of the memorial were intending to ensure that the banners would fly together -- even though few people will realize the significance.
She and her husband, Brett, are trying to make arrangements for travel to California this weekend to attend the unveiling of the banners.
American Heroes Tribute co-founder Robert Pfeiler said the Allred family has been incredibly supportive of his project.
"Everyone has," Pfeiler said. "The main thing they all tell me is, 'We just don't want anyone to forget.' "
After learning that a stranger had sponsored her son's banner, Zel Allred said her family now plans to sponsor a banner for another fallen service member.
Pfeiler and Grant Bjorn, who owns a small sign-making shop in Southern California, underwrote the first banners. They have since organized the memorial as a not-for-profit corporation and are hoping to find others who will sponsor the creation of individual banners for all U.S. service members killed. When that is completed, Pfeiler said, they plan to unveil banners for allied soldiers who have died in support of the U.S.-led military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
No dates or locations have been announced for the memorial's national tour, but Pfeiler said the banners would fly in most major cities for about two weeks in each location.