Memorial Day is a day to remember our fallen, those without a physical voice. Our spirit and soul – live beyond the length our bodies could ever want to. The universal human ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is something people who made the ultimate sacrifice understand, especially those who have passed in service.
We must remember those who passed to show honor and embrace the values we embody. Service in the face of fear is honorable if the sacrifices made resulted in the envisioned change desired and if it were for good. We must live in ways which honor the men and women who sacrificed for us.
No one wants to visit a cemetery, especially one with so many graves. Its depressing, but necessary. The headstones serve to remind us of the cost of war, any war. The headstones show the price of freedom. What would they say if they could? The fallen, I imagine would say, “Live freely and be happy with the ones you love. Protect them and be a good citizen who helps the weak and those in need. If you are strong, share your strength. If you are brave, inspire others. Overall, love. Love one another for the greater good.”
The slogan for national cemeteries should be, “Open for visitation, closed for business.”
Joshua D. Kapellusch
Day 10 September 15th, Sunday
I was able to spend the last night in the city, but in a very nice Hampton room with a comfy bed that was gifted to us. It was amazing! The boys were able to swim and play in the pool 3 times and were tired. After bringing them home I decided to make the final food and water run for the 10 day mission.
It was a hot day and I found that it was best to deliver supplies after about 7:00 pm, but before dark. This is a prime time when it is not too hot and is not dark yet. Many people are in migration. I found spots in the city to deliver all kinds of supplies in an efficient and effective manner. I feel we did a lot of good for these people in some of the hottest weather we get.
Upcoming needs will be blankets, jackets, backpacks, and socks. Despite your views or opinions, or even mine, people will struggle with sleeping in a house or even a dry place this winter despite all we do. Some people will sleep outside, but we can make sure they at least survive it. Donate blankets for a more impactful next step in the mission to help people be comfortable.
In planning future acts, I would love to do something for the homeless one weekend a month and next year plan for 2 weeks of service. So for next month I would like to pass out blankets and clothing items. I have hygiene bags to pass out and water is always needed. Be prepared to see the Blazer of Glory in the streets of Chattanooga doing good for other people.
I think the Fallen 5 would be proud of the 2019 mission. The final act of the Fallen 5 Drive is to dip our tires into the river as a way to end the mission until next year. It is always a relief to complete a tough assignment. We were successful in achieving change for many people in Chattanooga because of your support! Thank you for the support!
Joshua David Kapellusch
Day 8 September 13th, Friday
At this point in the Fallen 5 Drive I spent every night out in the streets either in the truck, on the ground, or in a friend’s car with more leg room. I didn’t anticipate having so many supplies for myself and feeding or watering about 50 people per day. It was quite a challenge to have all that packed in there and lay comfortably. Also, working out during the trip didn’t help with my comfort levels! In other words, I was growing tired. The weather was great except for one day when it rained for about an hour and I had to use the tarp roof.
This day was Friday the 13th and it was a full harvest moon as well! This was going to be a special day and evening. Each Friday any city livens up from people getting off after a long weekend. Tourists also flourish the city seeking all Chattanooga has to offer.
This day was special because Chattanooga was out of water! Late Thursday evening the 3 foot water main burst causing the water for the entire city to be out! This day we were out in the heat passing out waters and burritos. We felt rich as we gave water when there were so many without. I intended on giving freely before the water outage, but to know the people that needed it most were getting it was particularly special. We were happy to help anyone in need!
Later that evening my boys were planned to be with me downtown, but with the water outage we decided to stay outside of the city. As a parent it is always important to put them first so we camped out in the camper.
Joshua David Kapellusch
Day 7 September 12th, Thursday
Waking up on the 12th meant taking down the flag from the main sign. I wanted people to see the flag flying and know the 9/11 victims and Fallen 5 were not forgotten. Once up I went to remove the flag by driving there in the Blazer of Glory, but the shifter broke when I went to back up. Once realizing what just happened I decided to walk to the main sign. Since we slept in the park it was not too far of a walk. I actually enjoyed the walk early in the morning to retrieve the flag. In the dawn’s early light, the flag was still there!
We took a couple pictures of the flag hanging and then folded it up for next year. Each time the flag was folded this year someone learned how and I got practice too! Flag raising and folding is important process and holds respectful meaning in each fold. To fold a flag one must take great care with each fold because you must reach the end with enough excess and have formed a perfect triangle.
After folding the flag, the humbling walk back in front of the building where the men lost their lives gave me time to think about their last moments. I am still here with a mission and they left while on their mission. Picking up the flag and carrying it on is all of our duties and we each do it differently.
Getting back to the truck I figured out what we could do to get a cable made as soon as possible. The part that broke was critical. I called Hudlow Axle and they recommended Hydraulic Supply Co. in Chattanooga and they were able to make a custom cable before the end of the day. We decided to go shopping and get more supplies for making burritos again. The people requested them as they are filling and easily eaten.
After getting the cable and food I set to work fixing the truck and adapting the plans for the day. I forgot some small bags and needed ice for the cooler. Once back at the truck I set up a cooking station for 96 eggs and 50 burritos with cheese! My little fold up table and Coleman grille were ready to cook 6 eggs at a time and package up the food as quickly as possible. After 2 to 3 hours of cooking I was exhausted and it was dark. I got to work before looking at the clock, but it took much longer than I anticipated. The pups and I were ready for bed!
Joshua David Kapellusch
Day 6 September 11th, Wednesday
Instead of driving across a bridge for 2019, I was sleeping under one. This time in Chattanooga, TN. The Fallen 5 Drive for 2019 had a different mission, making a difference for people in Chattanooga. I put myself in the shoes of people who are homeless, by living in the truck for most of the 10 days during the 2019 mission. In this way I could see what it is like to survive on the streets.
I was lucky compared to most since I had a vehicle to transport me and sleep in. On 9/11 we woke up with a flat rear tire, a slight delay, but we got rolling nonetheless even filling the tire on the side of the freeway to meet Lebron Clark in Ringgold, GA. Somedays even when things are perfect, you will get a flat tire.
Lebron Clark from MTN View Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Ringgold, GA donated $1,000.00 to the mission of helping local people who are homeless. We will certainly use the funds to help cover the costs of the mission and could not do it without his support every year of the Fallen 5 Drive! Thank you Lebron!
In previous years I spent most of my time traveling in the truck at 70 to 80 miles per hour, stopping only for carefully planned fuel stops, bathroom breaks, food, and sleep. In 2016, the first year of the Fallen 5 Drive mission, we stayed at hotels except for a few nights under the stars – which were my favorite. Each year thereafter on the Fallen 5 Drive, more nights were spent in the truck because it embodied the connection to our natural environments and energy of the drive since it had to be made in 5 days as well!
Last year my dog and I made the trip together and I made it an order to sleep in the truck every night on the way out. I succeeded in sleeping in it even at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on the fifth night! I wanted the ruggedness of the trip to represent a deployment or hardship similar to what forward operating marines or others experience on the battlefield.
September 11th and July 16th are the same dates to me. I pay my respects to each and this year was no different. September 11th sparked my passion for patriotism to protect my community and serve my country. I served for over 4 years overseas during war. I made Chattanooga my home. The terrorist who attacked us caused us to mourn, but actually made us stronger, noogastrong. My mission is to show our solidarity and remind others of the sacrifices the Fallen 5 made for us. I honor that and these men the best way I can.
I flew another flag on the sign of the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center of Amnicoal Hwy on September 11th, 2019. Our American Flag represents the hardships we have overcome together and our unity as Americans. What it means to me is that we work together like the stitches and striping, the stars and the bars. The flag represents our history, both good and bad. We must allow ourselves to react to one another with love and respect at all times, despite intense personal feelings without thought. Democracy is meant to be a logical process of deciding on issues to unite us, not divide us, based on majority voting.
We have shown as Americans and Chattanoogans, that we can be united especially after a tragedy. However, we should not only be united after tragedies, rather all year and over years and this is what I am attempting to demonstrate. To help those with the least is the best I can do.
Additionally, those that demonstrate the core values of what it means to be an American can often be found in public service such as in the military, judicial circuits, and police and fire fighting people. More important than government services is the neighborly or good samaritan acts we can share with one another when we are in need. Learning skills such as CPR or simple wound care can save people’s lives in emergency situations. As a country we should have millions more who are certified. There is a lot we can all be doing to help one another in need.
On this day I chose to feed service people such as cops and firefighters. I chose Krispy Kreme doughnuts of course to hand out to different departments. I first visited the Chattanooga Police Department on Amnicola Hwy since they saved everyone’s lives that day on July 16th, 2015. They were very thankful for the 24 doughnuts that were dropped off! I then visited UTC’s Police Department since they are always vigilant in protecting the future leaders of the community, as they become leaders themselves. My final stop was at the fire department off Main Street across from Slick’s Burgers. They were all gracious.
Joshua David Kapellusch
This morning’s sunrise was especially beautiful! The morning changed from dark, to a light orange and pink sky which shone brighter as the day awoke. The buzz and roar of life began and another day started for the Fallen 5 Drive.
I was quite sore by this time since I was not prepared to run and sleep in hard places. Doing a new physical fitness program combined with sleeping on the ground and vehicles was a new level of soreness for me. Despite the soreness, stretching and a little ibuprofen went a long way.
After a few days of being in the streets, we realized there were more needs beyond food and water. We began planning a list of hygiene items we could purchase and put together and pass out for people. In addition to giving food we wanted to provide a level of care in which people could feel more comfortable.
For food we planned on cooking eggs scrambled with cheese and wrapping into a burrito. We got 60 eggs, 40 tortillas, and a couple pounds of cheese. We picked up another 4 cases of water to pass out as it was going to be hot for the next few days. It was quite a bit of work as we cooked, wrapped, and packaged the food. As we drove around passing out water and food, we asked what more needs were and so we planned to make a trip to the store for toothpaste, toothbrushes, wipes, band aides, alcohol pads, and other items.
By now I began to recognize certain people and they knew us as well. Often as I drove around town, my new friends would wave or say hi! It felt good to be doing good for others. The opportunity to do good for others is possible if we simply choose to do something. This simple mission has created so much joy and value. It was a great day to honor the Fallen 5!
Joshua David Kapellusch
Day 3 began with a beautiful sunrise in the morning overlooking the City of Chattanooga. It was peaceful and calm. With the sunrise we could hear the traffic and energy of the city come to life. Each day on this mission I awoke wondering how much good I could do for others in need. My mental balance was between serving those who were living, those who sacrificed their lives for others, and serving my own needs.
The major plans for the day including cooking hot dogs and passing them out with water. This means we would set up the grille and cook and package them up in zip lock bags. Each morning I made French pressed coffee, as I do every morning, and began planning the day. Each day at this point was going to be planned as the day went. I was learning a lot about what the real needs on the streets were.
Food is a big part of what we were doing. Additionally, seeking resources such as blankets, hygiene items, and coats was an important next step. I learned new information from those we served and we asked what their needs were. Some spoke of anticipating housing soon while others wanted simple items such as hand sanitizer.
My personal goal is to raise awareness for the status of homelessness in Chattanooga and care for these people on a personal level. Being a small team of dedicated people and dogs, we were able to impact people on an individual basis which was a special experience. Part of driving around was finding new places that were overlooked by others. Generally, there were people close to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen which is open daily for food and other resources.
To spread the word on our mission we headed to the Sunday Market at the First Tennessee Pavilion which was also a car show. We walked around with the dogs for a bit and shortly after left to help more people in needs. Later that night we visited Craven’s House again overlooking the city.
Joshua David Kapellusch
Day 2 September 7th, Saturday
Mack, Miley, and I awoke early in the morning in the truck and I was very tired from the day before. For 2019 I wanted to put myself in homeless people’s shoes by living in the truck for the duration of the mission. Preparing for the mission was stressful and difficult to cram everything into the truck. Making room to sleep was quite a challenge, but we managed to make some comfort. I had not anticipated the discomfort from working out since it had been so long. A good night’s sleep is nothing to take for granted.
After stretching and waking up I went on another run with the dogs. Taking a grown dog is tough, but two with one being a puppy is quite a challenge. After we started the dogs got the hang of it somewhat. As we ran across Walnut Street Bridge the puppy was dragging behind; I thought she was tired. To my surprise she had to potty and so there I was picking up turds with my bare hands and running them to the trash! Next time I will bring a bag or at least try and make them go potty before we run! I made two laps for the Fallen 5 and loved crossing Veteran’s Bridge and seeing their plaques on 5 poles. It inspired me to push harder, to know I should be doing more for myself, to honor the Fallen 5.
After getting back to truck I realized I was completely covered in sweat and my Noogastrong shirt was soaked. I realized that I didn’t have a shower either and I would just have to cool down. I made some French pressed coffee and ate a little food. Our next mission was to hand out water and the PBJ sandwiches. We searched the town over and looked for people. We were successful in giving away all of the food and most of the waters. The goal is to hand out 2 waters and 1 food item to each person.
Another mission is to make the truck look as good a possible to represent the Fallen 5 properly. The decals and paint from prior years is show it’s age. After my accident I was not able to care for the truck and it sat outside for the winter and the sun got the decals to peel. I headed to the library to reprint the decals and put them on for each man. I want people to know what the truck is about when they see it, so I can point to their names and speak about their sacrifices.
For the 2nd round of feeding I decided that hot dogs would be a good thing to make. I bought 48 hotdogs, buns, beans, ketchup, mustard, and other supplies for feeding. I also bought more water and filled a new cooler to keep the food safe and cool out in the hot weather.
For the evening we decided to park somewhere more quiet and secure. Sleeping in a truck with no top and exposed is a unique experience. You hear everything and feel the city, it never sleeps. We visited Craven’s House and were blessed with an amazing sunrise.
Joshua David Kapellusch
2019 Fallen 5 Drive Update
After long consideration of the impact and goals of the Fallen 5 Drive, I have made the decision to “deploy to Chattanooga” for 2 weeks beginning September 6th, and ending on the 15th of September. I will live in the truck for these 2 weeks, helping people who are homeless by feeding, watering, and securing resources for these people in honor of these men.
My ultimate goal is to find at least 1 homeless veteran and get them housed. I will also feed and water at least 50 people per day in their honor. I will do ground work on finding what the status of the memorial at the park is and see why it is delayed. I will honor these men, their lives, their families, and the community they left behind. We have a lot of work to do here in Chattanooga, and I feel I can impact more people this way rather than driving across the country for 2 weeks.
Traditionally the Fallen 5 Drive was about taking the folded Amnicola American Flag across the United States and flying it from the Golden Gate bridge to honor these 5 brave heroes. After committing myself for 3 successful years, 15,000 miles, and thousands of dollars from myself and sponsors, I have seriously considered the impact of my actions. I feel that helping living, breathing citizens of the United States of America in Chattanooga, it would better honor their sacrifice by working in my community.
I went to the Golden Gate Bridge because during Vietnam people threw garbage on returning veterans. And more recently, the San Francisco 49er decided to not stand for the flag, and this is garbage as well. Before the washed up quarterback decided to not stand for that beautiful flag, I/we had already completed 2 successful missions of flying it from the bridge – we took it straight to the middle of the bridge to say – NO, WE HONOR OUR FLAG, OUR COUNRTY, AND THOSE WHO HAVE SACRIFICED TO KEEP IT FLYING.
This year I feel that I can impact more people than the few I meet on the highway. Last year I helped 8 homeless people, and this year I will help at least 600 right here in Chattanooga. With the rising costs of housing locally, there are more than 700 homeless people who need assistance right now, every day. I will find out what their needs are and keep you all updated. I will give rides, facilitate feeding people from sponsor donations and out of pocket donations, and generally be of assistance to anyone in need, especially veterans. I will have a daily schedule posted in the next few days. My goal is to demonstrate how we as Americans, can work together and care for one another.
To help, start by spreading the message of the mission. Share, like, and donate if you feel compelled to help your fellow humans in need. Over the next few days, I will be raising awareness and generating support. Starting now until the 15th I will accept donations of money, food, water, clothing, backpacks, socks, and general items for living. We can all do a little, and a little goes a long way. Remember, that without community we have no country – and to have strength we must remain United in these States of America, under God.
Thank you. For more questions or resources please call or text Joshua at 423.414.8233. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joshua David Kapellusch
Founder/Driver of the Fallen 5 Drive