CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Five years after his son, Army Sgt. Jeff Reed, died on a mission for his country, Reed's proud father is on a mission to honor his son's memory by giving back.
Reed, a graduate of L.C. Bird High School in Chesterfield, joined the army to make an impact, his Mark Reed said.
"I was very proud of his decision," Reed recalled. "Jeff was about helping people. Helping the Iraqi people. Helping the children."
Jeff, an avid soccer fan, even orchestrated the delivery of hundreds of soccer balls from America to Iraq’s impoverished children.
Jeff served a full year in Iraq as an MP in 2007 when the fighting was intense. His parents were understandably concerned.
"Every night was like pins and needles to be honest with you," Mark, a postal carrier, said.
While Jeff returned home safely from his first mission, he returned to Iraq one year later to train Iraqi soldiers. It was during his final training mission that Jeff’s young life was cut short. Sgt. Reed was killed when an RPG hit his Humvee. He was 23 years old.
"It was March 2, 2009. He was just two weeks before coming home before he was killed," the father said. "It was unbelievable to tell my wife that her son was killed. If you told me this would happen before, I would have told you that I would have stayed in bed the rest of my life."
Hours after he received the stunning news, Mark Reed made a decision.
"I had to do something to turn this into something good," Mark said. "That was our biggest fear that any veteran who gave his life would be forgotten."
Within weeks the Jeff Reed Memorial Fund was born. The non-profit raises money during a 5k race in Jeff’s name. Some of the money raised is donated to “Habitat for Heroes” which finds housing for veterans in our area. Other funds are used for a scholarship given to one senior at L.C. Bird High School.
"We’re helping our vets. He’d be thrilled with what we’re doing. He really would," Mark said. "It makes me feel great. Absolutely."
Mark Reed believes that time can heal deep wounds, but actively remembering his dear son is the best medicine.
"It will never go away. I’ve found that as the years go on it is a little easier and with the memorial fund it makes it much easier to get up and say ‘What good am I going to do today.’”
The 4th annual Jeff Reed Memorial 5k run is this Saturday at L.C. Bird High School this Saturday at 10 a.m. Click here for more information.
Greg McQuade and CBS 6 News are featuring local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email email@example.com.