A Mother’s Calling

Just out of Baggs, WY, I crest a long hill in the early morning light. Almost immediately the topography changes. It is greener and there are yellow flowers along the road and valleys as far as I can see and in the distance, mountains loom. It is the kind of morning that greets me every day. Fresh air, sun, music from the side of the road as crickets and birds sing their songs. This morning would be different though.

Violet Kaylor is driving a lonely stretch of Hwy. 13 north of Craig, CO. It has been a long trip for her. She is from Hartselle, AL and left on Sunday June 20th headed for Mile Post 114. Her son was Jon-Eric Loney. An Army Corporal, he was 21 years old when he died on November 28th, 2006 in Iraq. We move forward to a meeting in the Colorado countryside, towards each other for a brief time in our lives.  I see a black, Dodge Charger with Alabama plates approach and slow. It stops. It is Violet. We walk together and she tells me about her son. Infectious, generous and just a really good son. It is quiet too, as we walk. I ask Violet to look around…..There are sheep grazing and lambs feeding and a creek runs nearby. A sheep wagon sits on the side of the hill. It is a beautiful place. A soothing, calm place to put her sons flag. It has always been an honor for me to serve this country 30 years ago and it was an honor to walk this mile for Jon-Eric with his mother. I cannot imagine her sadness and yet I see her love for her son. It was important for her to be here at Mile Post 114, to see her sons flag be placed and then to take him home. We embrace and words of gratitude are shared. Violet slowly drives away and I resume this journey. Life often brings us circumstances and people who change our lives, that somehow enrich it in a way we can’t explain. I would spend the better part of the day thinking about this Mothers Calling and its effect on me. Thank you Violet Kaylor and thank you Jon-Eric Loney for this mile in Colorado.


  1. Lori

    You have touched many hearts, the Mothers, Fathers, Children and other Family Members. If only you really knew what your Journey and Silent Tributes mean in the hearts of many of us. Keeping track of you as you make your Personal Journey.

  2. Lori

    A comment from one of my friends in the Netherlands
    I do my best to keep him and everyone else in countries
    around the world up to date on where you are and how you are doing.

    Wonderful album of somebody who has the spirit to achieve what others would think is impossible.

    C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S
    from a former long distance runner as myself….

    caspersfree said
    Glad you enjoyed seeing where he’s been, what he’s doing.
    He is one fantastic Veteran. Will pass on your words to him.
    THAT would be an honour.
    I did long distances when living in Belgium and in 10 years
    I have crossed almost 11.000 kilometers, which is just a bit more than 1/4 of Earth’s circumference.
    So I KNOW what it is to march endless long distances in good/bad (mostly) weather.
    I sinceriously want to make a STANDING OVATION to this sportsman.
    He is A HERO!!!!

    Keep it up Mike :-)))


  3. Violet L. Kaylor

    I have replayed that walk in my head constantly. It was so unreal to me. The scenery, the walking, the company I kept that small walk that we took. I can’t describe the awesomeness that I felt. The things that I say, and what other people say does not do you justice. You are an amazing man and I am a better person for those little time that we walked. Truly an inspiration to me.

  4. Clo


  5. Linda Wright

    Thank you for sharing this Mike. You are one of those people. Can’t wait to hear more. Please let us know when you are almost to Fort Collins. It would be an honor to run or just wave as you go by here. Rainbows always for you. HUGS, Linda

  6. Judith d'Albert

    Just to let you know that our nightly group keeping vigil, lighting candles, saying the Pledge, listening to TAPS and sharing together through readings and recognition of the sacrifice of individual Fallen Heroes at dusk at The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial, Irvine, CA, especially remembered your vision as your prepare to run the miles for between Cedaredge and Hotchkiss, CO, on July 1st.

    Two years ago, Ret. Sgt Major Velton Locklear ran eight miles with Run for the Fallen between Germantown and Breese, Clinton Co. Illinois, honoring these four men specifically and four others who all had lost their lives in the third week in September 2006 in different parts of Iraq.
    Marine Sgt. Christopher M. Zimmerman
    Died September 20, 2006 serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom
    28, of Stephenville, Texas; assigned to 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Sept. 20 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar Province.

    The vision of Chris’ mom Faith is hosted by the University of Texas Naval ROTC Battalion. The Zimmerman Recon Challenge is a grueling nine mile, multi-sport competition that pushes participants to the edge of their physical limits. Athletes have to demonstrate superior strength and endurance as they navigate this seven event course.

    All proceeds from the ZMan Challenge go to support the Christopher Michael Zimmerman Memorial Foundation, which provides athletic grants and scholarships to area youth. Community kids receive funds to participate in team sports such as baseball, softball, and basketball.)

    Army Master Sgt. Robb G. Needham,51
    Died September 20, 2006 serving his second voluntary tour in the war zone, during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    From Vancouver, Wash.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 356th Regiment (Logistical Support), 4th Brigade, 91st Division, Army Reserve, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died of injuries sustained when his patrol came in contact with enemy forces using small-arms fire during combat operations in Baghdad.

    Sgt. Velton Locklear III, 29, died with his driver and best buddy Pfc. Kenneth E “Aaron” Kincaid IV, 25, of Lilburn, GA, after an explosive device detonated near their Humvee in Riyadh, Iraq, September 23, 2006. “Velton loved being a father, being a husband, playing football, distance running and playing the cello. ” Most of all he loved the serving his country, like his father , career soldier before him, Ret.Sergeant Major Velton Locklear II who served in Operation Desert Storm who still teaches ROTC.

    Aaron Kincaid was proud daddy to two little girls and in honor of his memory, his mom Marcia, planted a garden on her backlot in Georgia which blooms every spring on his birthday.

    Thanks to Soldiers’ Angels spreading the word, many rocks line the paths for they were sent from every state and many with the names of the fallen inscribed on them. The Patriot Guard were out in full support April 1st, 2007, on Aaron’s birthday when the garden was dedicated. Each fall on the September anniversary Marcia receives from me a box of spring bulbs to plant, so, come April, there will even more flowers busting out in profusion!

    Their families appreciate your recognition of their sacrifice. I have tonight personally sponsored their miles somewhere on the highway between Cedaredge and Hotchkiss CO and look forward to seeing the exact view tomorrow evening on the map! I hope others are inspired to do the same.

    God speed, Mike! You really are in God’s Country with the wide vistas and grand show eternal of the mountains ahead to push you closer to your goal, and we hope the thunder storms forecast do not slow you down!

  7. Carmen Locklear

    I would like to share with you also that my son Velton Locklear, III was killed in Iraq on September 26, 2006. What a struggle it is everyday without my Velton. And I know you feel the same way Violet. Our beautiful sons and daughters fight for the greatest cause, “freedom for all in a great nation, the USA”. My husband went to the run year before last, but is unable to go again because of his job. We miss our son so very much. To all this brave and courageous men and women, I stand proud, although my heart is destroyed. Best of luck to all who are running for a great cause. God bless all.
    Carmen Locklear

  8. Nate Pennington


    THANKS for what your doing for our fallen Warriors. I was inspired about reading what you are doing on runningtimes.com I greatly appreciate the time your devoting to representing our men and women in uniform and those that payed the ultimate sacrifice. If you need a running partner on your way through colorado I am willing to run along side you.

    2LT Nate Pennington

  9. John Doe

    My friend Jon-Erik is a hero! He died serving our country, on the way to try and stop an attack on one of the United States military bases. He served and died honorably, and was no doubt one of the most caring friends I’ve ever had.


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