Derek "Doc" Van Tuyl is a U.S. Army Combat Medic Veteran.  Not a lot of people know that he was also awarded with a Bronze Star Medal for heroic service. He would never brag on himself, but he is my friend and that's what friends do. In my opinion, he continues to be a hero to the Owensboro community. Specifically to local veterans and families through his leadership as president of V.E.T. which stands for Veterans Empowered Together.

Kayla Newman
Kayla Newman

Each year on Memorial Day, Derek has organized a ruck walk to honor his friends who died while serving our country.  My husband, Michael, has joined him a couple of times. He told me it was a long 11 miles, but worth it to honor his friends who served. As well as remembering all men and women who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy everyday.

Kayla Newman
Kayla Newman

This is the second year that V.E.T. has hosted the Memorial Day Walk for the Fallen which will be held on May 29th 2023. The remembrance ceremony will begin at 8:00 am at Shelton Memorial on Veteran's Blvd in downtown Owensboro. This will be followed by the 11 mile Ruck/Walk. Refreshments will be provided halfway through, and there will be a stop at the Sport Center to honor fallen comrades.

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All are encouraged to join the walk if you want to and are able, but if it is too long for you to complete the whole thing start to finish, Derek has provided the streets on the route.  This way you can join in late or leave early.  You may carry mementos or photos of someone you lost, paint your face, carry a flag, to show your support and respect.

Kayla Newman
Kayla Newman

Timeline of events and route:

The memorial ceremony begins at 0800 at the Shelton Memorial next to Smothers Park.
This is in collaboration with the Brandon Mullins Memorial Foundation 5k Run to Remember. As the Ruck Walk begins, so will the 5k.
-We will turn left onto Frederica and head towards Parrish Ave.
-We will turn right on Parrish heading towards the Sportscenter.
-We will stop at the War Memorial at the Sportscenter and participate briefly in their ceremony at 1100.
-Once we leave that event we will continue to travel down Parrish Ave towards Carter Rd.
-We will turn left onto Carter
-We will travel Carter towards Southtown Blvd.
-We will turn left onto Southtown and then an immediate left onto Strickland Dr.
*This will be the halfway point with drinks and snacks provided.*
-We will depart Strickland Dr back to Southtown towards Frederica.
-We will turn left onto Frederica to walk back to Veterans Blvd.
-We will turn right onto Veterans Blvd and finish at the Shelton Memorial for a final moment of silence.
After the ruck march all are invited to Buffalo Wild Wings for a dinner.
Kayla Newman
Kayla Newman
V.E.T. will also have a flag display downtown next to the Shelton Memorial as well as a flag display at the halfway point. Each flag in the display represents someone who died in the line of duty.
If you have a name of someone you know that died while serving our country you may send an email to and they can include them in the memorial.
Please include:
1. Rank and Name
2. Branch of service
3. KIA Date
4. Theatre of service
Here is a video of Derek from a previous walk where he explains his motivations for starting this special tradition. He is such a fantastic human. Owensboro is lucky to have him, and I hope you all will support him in honoring our local fallen soldiers.


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