A Boy Named Kyle

Shelton, NE, pop.1140 is an unassuming small town just past the center part of the state not far from a town called Wood River. Both lie along this stretch of Route 30 that runs parallel to Interstat 80 to the south and to the Union Pacific Tracks that are 100 meters to the north. On the edge of town is a John Deere Farm Implement dealer, across from a large grain elevator. A small ice cream store sits deserted along the road, its menu still in the window. Hamburgers for $1.50, slushies for $1.00 and assorted floats and sundaes. I can imagine this must have been the gathering place for many kids back in the day. Boys eyeing girls and girls eyeing boys. In a small town like this everyone is close. You feel that your neighbors children are almost your own. To lose one feels almost the same. In the front of the store under a huge shade tree is a bench and it is here that I would sit with the father who had lost a son.  Wain Codner had heard about me through the grapevine that exists along this highway. He found me taking a break and sat with me and told me Kyles story. They were farmers south of town.  Kyle was a good son. He wanted more though than to continue farmng and joined the Marines soon after turning 18. He graduated from Boot Camp on Fathers Day 2005. To this day his parents don’t really know why he chose to serve his country. In a  journal they discovered long after he was gone there is an excerpt dated 9/11/01. It read, ” I can’t pull myself away from the t.v., I wish I had the courage of those Port Authority Police and the Firemen.” Kyle Codner was patriotic and he loved his country. Like many before him and since he felt an obligation to serve. I close my eyes and try to imagine his life. I look down the long gravel road that leads to his house, a road he probably learned to ride a bike on, to drive on and drove tractors on. The road now bears the name, Kyle Codner Memorial Road. I run past trains that sit vacant, trains he probably threw rocks at and like any boy probably put pennies on the track to be flattened beyond recognition. I hear locusts singing in the trees and imagine they must have serenaded him to sleep many a summer night. I imagine that days in the fields in this Nebraska humdity built strong character and work ethic.  He was engaged to be married upon returning to the states from his tour of duty and in his last phone call said he wasn’t afraid of dying just of not being able to spend the rest of his life with his wife to be. The next day he was gone. In one short year a light that had shone so brightly over Shelton, NE for 19 years  was now out.

I spoke that night in a small VFW in Wood River, NE. Wain and Dixie Codner were there. Before he left Wain told me that the biggest fear a family has is that those they have lost will not be remembered. I have been told that people look at these mile markers differently now. That they remember those who are gone. That is a good thing. We owe that to the Kyle Codners of this world. We owe it to the generations that have passed before us so that no one is forgotten.


  1. Jill Ehredt

    That was the most touching true story I have ever read. It was written with heart felt feelings that would touch any red blooded Americans heart and soul. Thank You for caring and doing this amazing run.
    Love your Sister in Law Jill

  2. Carl Oesterle

    Wonderful Mike. Profoundly wonderful.

    Because of you I now look at roads like Route 30 with a new appreciation for their simple beauty. And I look at small towns like Shelton, and people like Mr. and Mrs. Codner and their son Kyle, with awe. We cannot honor them enough.

    Thank you again for what you are doing. Keep plugging.


  3. Linda Wright

    Dear Mike,

    I too look at the roads in Fort Collins and the mile markers along Mulberry and on are way to Ault differently. I remember the faces and the crowds and the families who gathered when you came through.

    You have made a profound difference in so many lifes, mine included.

    Thank you for the roads you have traveled so far and the roads you will travel. Thank you for the stories and the people you are touching along the way.

    THANK YOU. Angels all around you always and remember the rainbows,


  4. meredith murphy

    thank you for sharing. you are on such an incredible journey.

  5. Janet Cagle

    Mike, I love your stories. Will there be a book perhaps?

    Wishing you the best. 1979 Rock Falls Rockets Janet Lindsley Cagle

  6. Leanne Lee

    Dear Mike
    I am so moved as I read some of your stories and those families who share their loss with you. You are truely blessed and honored to give of yourself as you have. Touching these lives with your heart and thoughfulness is an honarable act. Thank you for sharing the stories of the American people. As you have touched their hearts you have touched mine too. I will keep you and your journey in my prayers! What a wonderful thing you are doing for us all. One step at a time Mike. You are a super guy!

  7. steve metzger

    Each and every one of your stories are always so meaningful – thank you for taking the time to write and share them with all of us. Continued blessings.
    steve and julie

  8. Tod Brandt

    Mike it was wonderful to speak with you when you was at the Wood River Legion Club. Many people have ask me how you are doing in the last couple days. I’m honored to have met you and be part of Project America Run. As I followed Mike on Highway 30 from Wood River I was truely honored to be involved with this man. As I watched him kept on pace ,think about the service menbers that have lost their lives for the freedom of this country and their families who have lost a loved one.
    Alda Wood River VFW Post 4677 Commander Tod Brandt

  9. kath

    Once again Mike you have left me speechless. I was there that day at Wood River. The drive, the passion, the determination, the heart you have is incredible! Now when I drive down a highway I look for a mile marker & look for that United States flag.

    May you always be in the palm of Gods hands.

  10. Sgt Bob

    Here in Irvine CA Kyle will be remembered. So will all those brave young men and women who have served in Iraq & Afghanistan. Our Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial is in its final stage of completion.

    In a few months we’ll be able to visit the memorial; search for names of loved ones or those we have heard or read about on five granite sentinels; how young they were; and when they paid the price for our freedom.

  11. Lori

    A great story, and I really do understand his fears.
    Some of us struggle to keep the names where everyone can
    pay their respects.
    And if Kyles father or any other family member reads this I hope they contact me. Because we have a new site now to remind people these brave men and women were someone special, Placing the name to a face
    and they life they lived


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