Jody’s Journey: Art Loeb Trail

On April 14 – 17, Warriors to Summits alum, Jody, took on another challenging adventure: the Art Loeb Trail in North Carolina.  This is his story about the reason behind the trek:

A very good friend of mine, Jason and I will set out into Pisgah National Forest April 14-17 to embark on a journey. We will be hiking the Art Loeb Trail, which is a little over 30 miles long. It will be an amazing adventure.

When I called Jason, I believe he booked a flight in less than two hours. He was so pumped about this opportunity. We have known each other for about fifteen years. Jason’s older brother, Gordy and I met while serving in the Marine Corps together and we’ve been best friends ever since. We’re so close we don’t refer to each other as friends anymore, we introduce ourselves as brothers. What sparked this friendship or brotherhood one may ask? I believe it’s because we share the same beliefs and we believe in something bigger than ourselves. We both swore to support and defend the Constitution of the the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We, along with every other servicemember, had signed a blank check made payable to the United States of America. We share a bond greater than anyone could ever fathom. Over the course of the last sixteen years we’ve shared many ups and downs, and highs and lows.

This hike is to commemorate my brother’s teammates and our fallen brethren who were killed in a tragic helicopter crash on March 11 2015. These are the names of our fallen brothers: Staff Sgt. Kerry M Kemp, Captain Stanford H. Shaw III, Master Sgt. Thomas A. Sanders, Staff Sgt. Andrew C. Seif, Staff Sgt. Liam A. Flynn, Staff Sgt. Marcus Bawol and Staff Sgt. Trevor P. Blalock.

Life is a very difficult journey into the unknown, similar to hiking 30 miles in the wilderness or joining the military. In life we experience difficulties or storms, which create many problems we must face no matter how difficult. We have to remember that “What’s within us is stronger than what’s in our way.”  It’s a lot like a candle when you think about. A candle has many uses, one of which is lighting our path to help us see our way.  But when the wind blows out the flame on your candle, you’re now wandering around in the dark with no way to tell what dangers may lie ahead. Now imagine seven of your brothers in arms killed and taken away. There goes your eternal flame that lies deep down in your soul. The one that drives you, motivates you, and makes you who you are as a person. POOF! Suddenly,unexpectedly you’ve lost that flame. Now what, you may ask yourself ? Well , you’ve got to stand up and face the world head on. You’ve got to redefine your purpose in life and rekindle that flame deep down inside of you. As so our lives are similar to the wick on that candle, the longer it burns the shorter it gets, just as life gets shorter and shorter everyday. Sometimes our candles burn out and we all need a little help finding the match to reignite that flame. For me the match that lights my fire is hidden deep in the wilderness off the beaten path where very few will go.

I challenge everyone who reads this to ask themselves, “Where is the match that lights my flame? What drives me? Whats my purpose? What can I do to make an impact on someone else’s life? How can I become a better person?” The answer is different for everyone but I can tell you from experience that the mountains are a darn good place to start.

I’m looking forward to this journey with Jason and sharing the knowledge I have gained over the years. I want this journey to serve as an inspiration to my son when he grows up so that he’ll be a better man than I. I plan on doing this trek again in the fall with my brother who can’t make it this time because he is still defending this great Nation and defending our Freedom while everyone is tucked safely in their beds at night.

“The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go!” Til Valhalla!