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Marines on a mission pass through Idaho Falls

RIGBY, Idaho (KIFI) - A group of former marines hiking across the nation made their way through Idaho Falls on Saturday. The soldiers call their journey "The Long Road," and they are making the trip for project History Flight, which has recovered the bodies of more than 3-hundred fallen service members since 2003.

The team's goal is to trek 3,365 miles along Highway 20, the longest road in the United States. Their journey highlights the long journey home for the over 81,600 killed or M.I.A. servicemen and women throughout our nation's history.

"They've never had the opportunity to come home. And when you tell people that there are 81,000 of those that are still missing out there, their jaws hit the deck," retired marine J.D. Lehew said. "And the response is, I had no idea that we had left that many dead and wounded on the battlefields around the world."

And that journey has taken them across the United States, from the historic Boston harbor to the Rocky Mountains we call home. With their combined 56 years of military service, they carry the responsibility and weight of their fallen comrades.

"You've got 80,000, 40,000 recoverable(fallen soldiers) that are still out there. They're Americans. They deserve to come home and be buried on American soil. And just because their wars are 75 years ago, 60 years ago, 50 years ago, it makes no difference," former marine Coleman "Rocky" Kinzer said. "They're still Americans and they have a right to come home."

As winter hit, many supporters expected the team to put a pause on their journey. But, the team continues on as they look to their military comrades' history for inspiration.

"The ethos of never leaving a fallen comrade behind was nowhere better exemplified than at the battle of the chosen reservoir, where the Marines were credited with making a fighting withdrawal and bringing out all their dead and wounded and all of the equipment all the way over an 80-mile journey," Lehew said.

"So it is our honor and professional privilege to be out here, to be able to tell those stories to the American people, because those are the stories that make up the fabric of this nation and who we are today."

The group plans to continue their trek along the final leg of their journey toward Newport, Oregon.

For more information on The Long Road and project History Flight, click HERE.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Falls
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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.

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