5k race in Bowling Green honors fallen soldier

Published: Sep. 14, 2016 at 10:47 PM CDT
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Runners of all ages showed up to Chaney's Dairy Barn Wednesday night in the memory of WKU graduate Eric Yates.

On September 18, 2010, 1st Lt. Eric Yates was killed in active duty. Now, every year, on the week of his death, friends, family and strangers alike step up to the starting line, and honor him with a 5k memorial run.

Eric was described as a very quiet person.

Eric's mother says sometimes the most soft-spoken of people can make the greatest positive impact.

"Whenever he had something to say, it was like everybody stopped and listened to him," says Kathy Yates.

Some of Eric's closest friends shared the same sentiment as his mother.

"Eric wasn't a person that was outspoken," says college friend Michael Rasmusson, "but when he did speak, it was profound."

Eric graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2008. He was a member of the ROTC program, where he built a number of strong relationships with fellow cadets.

"After we graduated, we both ended up stationed at Fort Campbell Kentucky," says Rasmusson. "We ended up deploying at the same time."

Eric wrote letters to people close to him when he deployed, in case something happened. Friends and family say that Eric loved his school, and he loved his country. They believe this run is a great way to honor both.

"In the letter that he wrote to me, he did say that he didn't want to be forgotten." says his mother. "He loved Western so much, so this is where we chose to honor him"

"This event is just something that I think he would be proud of," explains Michael Rasmusson. "He would be proud of his mother. He would be proud of his school for carrying on something that was important to him."

Money raised by the 5k goes to a scholarship fund for ROTC students at WKU.

Even though Eric Yates is gone, he continues making a positive impact.

Tonight the WKU ROTC was presented with a check for $5,000.