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Utah nonprofit puts on combat boots display for Memorial Day weekend

Posted at 6:55 PM, May 27, 2023

FARMINGTON, Utah — Memorial Day is a time to honor those who sacrificed for our country. One local organization has a special way to do that by supporting families that lost loved ones.

Operation Hero organized a boot display, where each boot represents a fallen service member from Utah who died since 9/11. Every boot has a flag and the name and picture of the hero. Some boots are decorated by families as well.

“It’s very special for us because it makes us feel like he wasn’t forgotten,” said Alaira Packard, who lost her husband in 2016 and brings their daughters to the exhibit every year. “Having a space where others can honor him and realize that he’s still in our life, he’s still someone that we think about every day. Having one day where others can experience that too is really special."

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“It’s very humbling to watch the families come in, but also sad that every year, we have to add new names,” said Antionette Stapley, who founded Operation Hero in 2015 in honor of her late husband, 1st Sgt. Tracy Stapley, who died in 2013.

The display also includes exhibits and information on the walls for others to learn about these sacrifices.

“It’s not just about one person or one family — it’s about everyone that has lost a service member,” said Stapley.

Through her nonprofit, Stapley has dedicated her life to remembering these heroes and showing their families that they are not forgotten.

“The impact is overwhelming. To watch them walk in with tears, sitting down next to their boot, we all become very quivery in our voices with tears in our eyes," she said.

She hopes these heroes are remembered every day.

“To take a moment every day, it’s not just Memorial Day that we honor them. It's every day that we should be remembering them and thanking them for what they have done," Stapley said.

The boots will be on display Sunday and Monday from noon to 6 p.m., then Tuesday from 2 to 6 p.m. There are displays at Station Park in Farmington behind the Victoria's Secret store, and in Riverton at Mountain View Village next to the Nike store.

More information about Operation Hero and ways to get involved, volunteer or donate can be found at