HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) – He paid the ultimate sacrifice, but Specialist Chad Clements’ legacy continues to live on. Hundreds of people participated in the annual Chad’s Ride in Huntington Saturday to honor him.
Family and friends described Chad as a fun-loving, adventurous guy who always befriended the underdog. His family said the loss of their son and brother never gets easier, but its events like the ride that help them heal.
“Every year, this helps, every year,” Chad’s sister Danielle Clements said. “I can’t believe how much he has impacted the community.”
Chad joined the military in February 2009. He deployed for his first tour in Afghanistan in August 2010.
“He wanted to serve his country. He came home one day, said he was joining, and I said why, and he said mom, it’s something I’ve got to do,” Chad’s mom Anne Tarter said.
Less than three weeks later, the 26-year-old and four other soldiers died after an explosive device hit their Humvee.
“Days are hard, but you live on for him and celebrate his life, not mourn his death,” Clements said.
From his truck to his motorcycle with his combat boots and dog tags still attached, memories of Chad’s life filled Saturday’s ride.
“All these people are here for Chad. It’s like wow, they’re here for him,” Tarter said. “Something like this makes you realize that you’ve got a lot of people behind you and this is what it’s for, to help other people.”
More than 200 bikes took the 60 mile trip. It started at Yoeman Park, passed by Chad’s gravesite at the Mount Calvary Cemetery, and then back to the American Legion in Huntington.
“Letting him not be forgotten, that’s the main point,” Clements said.
Several soldiers deployed with Chad even traveled from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Nebraska to be at Saturday’s ride.
“It’s kind of the phrase gone, but never forgotten. The worst thing you can about people is forget about them. You just kind of have to keep their memory alive by doing stuff like this. Like anything, it kind of reopens a few wounds every now and then, but really it’s just about keeping his memory alive,” fellow solider Nic Olsen said. “Huntington should be really proud of him, and I know they are.”
Chad’s family hopes the ride serves as a yearly reminder of the military’s sacrifice and dedication to our country.
“They always need to pray for the troops whether they support the war or not. It’s our troops that are backing us. Was I happy my brother joined the service? No, but I supported him no matter what his decision was. So, I think they need to back our troops no matter what they believe in because if it wasn’t for our troops, it would be way worse in the United States than what it is now,” Clements said.
Money raised from the ride goes to scholarships, care packages for troops overseas, and various charities around Huntington.