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
September 6th, 2019. Day 1.
The 2019 Fallen 5 Drive began with an early morning 6:30 AM run across Walnut Street Bridge and across Veteran’s Bridge. The two dogs and I stretched out, then I did some pushups and leg lifts. My goal is to honor the men with as many laps as I can run, and think about what they sacrificed while doing so. PT is a big part of daily life in the military and I know getting myself into shape will be a good thing for me as well. I want to take these 10 days to improve my community and myself.
My goal this year for the Fallen 5 Drive is to honor these men by doing good things for the community through my actions. Feeding and helping the poorest in our community is important because it is how we Americans should be taking care of one another. Serving your country can begin by helping people right in your own back yard.
Once I reorganized the truck after getting supplies, I headed to the Chattanooga National Cemetery to visit the graves of the SSGT David Wyatt and PO Randall Smith. It was a very peaceful day to observe the tempo of the city. The cemetery is very calm and it was an honor to spend time resting with some of our national heroes.
Once I finished at the cemetery I drove to the mural near the cemetery. After taking a picture of the truck next the mural I headed to the river park to let the dogs swim and check on the memorial in the river park. As far as I could see there was no progress on the site unless I was missing something. One of my goals is to check in on Fallen 5 memorial sites to ensure progress is being made and that they are kept up.
I begin the Fallen 5 Drive the same way every year. I visit the initial shooting site and eat a meal with the Fallen 5 at the Lee Hwy memorial. This year I folded up a flag with 2 volunteers for the Navy. It was special teaching these young men about the heritage they are about to embrace. Once I arrived at the Riverpark, I dipped the tires back in the Tennessee River and put water on the flag.
Now that the drive began, my next mission was to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and pass out waters. I made about 40 sandwiches and handed out about 60 water bottles. I simply drive around and see who needs food or water. Since I have been helping some people who are homeless, I have a good idea of where to start and where I can make a large impact. One of the highest concentration of people with needs is outside of the Community Kitchen. We often deliver most of the supplies here after driving around for a few hours. After a long day the dogs and I slept in the truck off Lookout Street.
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 email@example.com.
Joshua David Kapellusch
Founder/Driver of the Fallen 5 Drive
What is a warrior?
Warrior as defined by Dictionary.com.
Warrior: 1. a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier. 2. a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.
Some of us are born warriors – seeing the need to fight for others, to improve their lives no matter the cost. When a warrior places value on their life, they calculate the possibility of their maxim effect of their efforts and the potential cost. The cost of living on without fighting for one’s innate and inalienable right to pursue happiness, or other’s rights to happiness – is higher than the cost of losing one’s life in the battles that will ensue for a greater good.
Warriors fight battles in the war with a purposeful end in sight. The glory of battle is not lost on the battlefield. The glory of heroism is never forgotten – a legacy of life given for others, a true sacrifice is made and the legend of the warrior never dies. Those who survive the war, have a duty to honor those fellow warriors now without their physical voice. We warriors must embolden ourselves for we now represent those that can no longer wave the flag or speak their peace. We must never let our brethren die inside us for it is the pilot light for our own warrior spirit that keeps us alive. We living warriors must live our lives, not focused on the dead, but to rather live our lives with purpose for the warriors who are resting.
A warrior’s spirit never dies, only resides like a waning tide. We pull away to reset ourselves on giving life, rather than taking it. We build in place of destruction. We rebuild ourselves.
The warrior’s spirit is driven by love. Seemingly contradictory – one must take a life in order to provide a better life for others. One must protect their good, their way of life – one must always fight for what they believe is right. Following God’s word, a warrior on a warpath can embark on a mission that is just if the purpose of the fight is rooted in the word of God, and in line with love. A warrior need not always kill another human, but they must relentlessly attack and defend against evil that causes harm to the warrior’s tribe and purpose. A warrior must defend against and kill the evil spirit within another human, for it is not life-giving.
My warrior spirit lives on inside me and I will always fight for good – for God – and for love. A warrior wars for peace and protection; a warrior sacrifices their life so that other’s may have a better life. A warrior is born, but never dies. A warrior yearns to sacrifice everything. A living warrior is jealous of those who had the opportunity to die, they must live on in their honor with a renewed purpose of giving and protecting life, rather than taking and harming life. Life is precious and delicate; it is not guaranteed. It must be fought for, even in peaceful times and places. Honor a warrior by living a positive life – be life giving. Honor the sacrifices they made for you, for you will never know the gift of giving the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield.
A warrior is always watchful for the next battle. They seek the weak, not to exploit, but to protect and provide. A warrior’s spirit never dies and we are always vigilant to needs of the weak. Our abundant strengths, courage, and intuition guide us. Each battle is new and unique, we warriors battle on so others may have a voice to speak. Death and evil chase life and happiness with a vengeance – for evil is never satisfied, until death presides. But death does not know that without life and love, death and evil have no purpose. A warrior is capable of love and mercy, whereas evil and death do not know love. A warrior is able to deliver justice in an envelope of hate, packaged and delivered intentionally to the source. A curious devil will open this pre-addressed letter unknowingly motivated by a unruled conquest of curiosity at the cost of demise. A warrior leaves it up to their adversary to open the envelope, but gives no mercy once opened. A warrior will include their return address as an open invitation for the opponent to attack or seek mercy. A warrior is capable of mercy and forgiveness as they fight from a source of love, derived from God.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” A warrior loves their enemy, and they win the battle before it ever begins. Life is meant to sustain and grow. Life is movement, and death is stillness. A warrior’s life is a living one – and their spirit never dies.
Do good, and never give up. We are all warriors in our words and actions. No warrior is perfect, nor is every battle won. Victory comes to warriors when they give everything and by the grace of God, we shall open our eyes one more day – to fight on for good, for light, and for love. Be a warrior and fight on. You are never alone and you have a purpose if you are still living. Be slow to anger and listen with your heart. Trust your intuition and if you doubt, pray.
Joshua David Kapellusch
On day 6 I awoke to the sound of a small sea plane flying low and couldn’t help but think of all the WWII aircraft that would have been flying around in the early 1940’s. I love air planes and so this was perfect to wake up to. I also heard seagulls, wind, people, and my loud tarp flapping in the wind as it had every night so far. I peeked out of my tarp and saw it, the Golden Gate Bridge. The 2018 mission was about to be completed. I was excited, proud, sad, and relieved all at once.
I planned to leave my dog Mack in the truck and have him guard it while I completed the mission. I prepared the truck and myself to walk the flag. The only problem was that there was no clear path to hike up. After a short time of walking around looking for a trail I decided that I would have to drive, park, and walk the flag from the main parking area. I had to drive over the bridge, turn around and drive over it again to park. My biggest concern with this was that my dog would jump out of the convertible truck when I was on the bridge and he would be gone when I got back.
Once I found a spot to park I secured Mack and prepared to walk the flag. This part is actually the most emotional part. The time between parking and then walking the flag is euphoric. I had so many emotions at once. I was proud to have completed the grueling 5 day drive, relieved to have arrived despite mechanical issues, honored to sacrifice for the Fallen 5, and sad to be alone on the bridge this year. Finding and choosing a co-pilot is tough, but I also wanted to make this year’s trip alone after my son said he couldn’t come this year. Another thing I needed complete this year’s mission was a volunteer to help me fold the flag. I realized how difficult this may be after hanging the flag. Last year we were on the bridge on September 11th which was really special.
Alone and walking I cried thinking about the loss of the Fallen 5. They were no longer here because of some cowardly “terrorist” attack. One individual caused so much pain and loss, my hope is that my actions combined with others, can overpower this evil act with love and unity. “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”. – Dr. Martin Luther King.
The American flag represents our unity, our heritage, and remembrance for those who have sacrificed to keep this country free by protecting the Constitution and our Bill of Rights. Our freedoms, liberties, and general pursuits to happiness are under extreme attack today. There are those in government who believe the people shall be controlled and subject to governed rule, and then there are those who believe in shared ideals and common bond of love and happiness. The purpose of government is to guarantee and protect inalienable rights for all Americans to pursue happiness. Today it seems as though you are only allowed to be happy if you follow all the laws, regulations, pay all the taxes, don’t cause a problem, and simply go along with everyone else. This is not the American way.
When I fly that flag off the bridge I salute it, hold and feel the moment as the rush of all the busy noises of cars, bikers, walkers, wind, and chaos wash away into a complete silence and for those few moments I feel good – completely solid. In those moments I feel everything coursing through my body. I remember all the war documentaries I have studied, the number men and women who sailed under that bridge and never came home to protect our freedoms. I remember the Fallen 5 and why I am doing this mission. I remember my own sacrifices in the military and my grandfathers before me. I remember my sacrifices all year to make this moment happen. Most important to me I remember my sons who are looking to me for protection and guidance. I am doing for others, what I would have wanted done for me. It is as simple this; we all have a common bond as humans – we were created perfectly by God to do good works for others and to love others just as Jesus loved us. God sent his only son to die on the cross to pay for all of our sins saving us from evil. With God all things are possible and when I run out of 5 physical fuels I run on a sixth fuel – it is God’s love and the American spirit of unity we all share.
My goal is to inspire others to pursue their dreams of happiness by making technology work for us to live better, more free lives. Combining this with love for mankind and respect for one another we can make huge strides in making this world a better place. I want to turn this tragedy into a triumph and I am doing that each year with every mile I drive. All the times I stop and talk to people about the Fallen 5 and the truck – they are humbled and inspired, but they always remember the Fallen 5.
I want to thank all of my sponsors for making the 2018 Fallen 5 Drive a success!
Thank you to our sponsors and contributors for making this mission possible!
The departure date was very welcomed after a few mechanical delays with the ’72 Chevy set us back. After getting everything fixed up and tested I set to leave on the 30th of July. Some work-related tasks needed to be completed as well as work on the truck. So eventually I left with my dog Mack on the 2nd of August in the rain. We ate supper with the Fallen 5 as I do every year. I take this time to really feel the emotion of the event 3 years ago.
The entire trip is focused on the Fallen 5. I constantly ask myself if I am doing enough, in the right way, and to the right people. I do know that I perform to my absolute best in this honorable mission. I am the keeper of the Fallen 5 Drive flag from the Amnicola shooting site. My duty is to fly it from the Goldgen Gate Bridge for them. So in reality, I just need to get that flag there on that bridge – everything else is part of the story. People love stories. I tell the story of the Fallen 5 everywhere I go.
I begin the drive each year by starting the Fallen 5 Drive from the memorial site off Lee Hwy in Chattanooga. I then take the path of the shooter to the Naval Station and Marine Reserve Center. On this part of the drive it has the most meaning, to take up a new mission for good and carry their honor. It is my way of fighting the pain of loss and the fear of hateful acts. We must show love and unity, not hate and division. The Blazer of Glory carries this message.
After dipping my tires in the Tennessee River and putting water on the American flag I set out for the 5,000 mile mission! I departed sometime around 5:00 pm. I always drive in Chattanooga for a bit for encouragement then set out for the 5,000 mile challenge ahead!
At about 1:00 pm I settled into the Blazer of Glory for the night with Mack my dog. I intent on sleeping in the truck for the entire trip as an added level of excitement! Stay tuned for more!
Thank you to our sponsors and contributors for making this mission possible!
On July 16th I drove the Blazer of Glory all over Chattanooga, TN and to Ringgold and Rossville, GA. The community support was amazing! People always waive, honk, and give the thumbs up. It makes me so proud to be a rolling, living, memorial to the Fallen 5. I visited all of the memorial sites dedicated to the Fallen 5 on July, 16th and paid my respects. It was an honor to travel and see all the supporters in the city while in the Blazer of Glory.
I have delayed the departure of our trip to July 30th due to mechanical failure in the rear differential in the Blazer of Glory. Over the course of building the roll cage and rear bumper at Hudlow Axle in the week leading up to leaving, I noticed a small leak and drip from the pinion seal. Sometimes this can be fixed by simply changing the seal, or in this case it needed to be rebuilt. On July 16th I arrived at Hudlow Axle to repair the seal; I changed the outer pinion bearing and crush sleeve in hopes of fixing the problem.
Steve Hudlow, the owner of Hudlow Axle, is one of our supporting sponsors and allowed me to fabricate the roll cage using his tubing bender. His company which I work for several years ago specializes in differentials, gears, driveshafts, transfer cases, and many other specialized drive train services. After driving the Blazer of Glory on July 16th with the intent to leave that day, it was becoming a realization the truck would need a rebuild on the rear differential.
Luckily, I was in good hands again at Hudlow Axle with parts and tools. I performed intense surgery on the Blazer of Glory on July 18th replacing the bearings and races in the carrier and on the pinion. The main gear ratio is 3.73 with open differential carriers. The gear set was certainly worn as well; basically, everything was worn out in the differential in the 46 year old truck! So after replacing the bearings, the pinion seal, and oil I drove the truck some more. The rear differential is a little loud and the overall reliability of the parts is questionable at this point since the truck needs to be test driven more. It blew a faulty pinion seal on the way home from Rossville last night.
The best plan for making the mission a success without being stranded is to delay the trip a couple weeks and test the truck. I am disappointed, however the truck is a machine and machines break down. We are lucky to have discovered the worn parts before leaving! I will keep you posted on our progress and thank you for our support!
Joshua D. Kapellusch
Follow this link to watch the amazing interview! Thank you to Julie Edwards and David Karnes from News Channel 3 for your support! We love you guys!
A special thanks to Lebron Clark from Mountian View Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Ringgold, GA for setting up the interview and becoming the main 2018 sponsor! We are forever thankful!
Another huge thanks to Hudlow Axle coming through for us on the roll cage and rear bumper!
Stay tuned for updates!