Erwin Record Photo by Bryan Stevens
From left, Mary Anna Peterson, Abby Neblett and Alex Peterson stand with a display honoring American soliders, particularly the 13 killed recently in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan as American forces withdrew from the country after a 20-year war that began in 2001. Alex Peterson, the owner of The Groovy Smoothie, said her mother, Mary Anna, got the idea to create the tribute. The tribute is also personal for employee Abby Neblett, who has a brother, Sgt. Don Neblett, who has been with the U.S. Army for eight years and is currently stationed in Georgia. Not pictured, Groovy Smoothie employee Ginger Love. The Petersons also have a long family association with the US. Armed Forces. Alex’s great-grandfater, Herman May, a former mayor of Erwin, served in World War II and the Korean War. Her great-uncle, M.R. Capps, was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Mary Anna Peterson said that she wanted to create the display to show how much she appreciates the military. “The many things they do for our freedoms often go unappreciated,” she said. The display consists of 13 seats with 13 balloons to honor the fallen soldiers killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 26. They are: Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25, Lawrence, Massachusetts; Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, Sacramento, California; Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, Salt Lake City, Utah; Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, Indio, California; Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, Omaha, Nebraska; Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, Logansport, Indiana; Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, Rio Bravo, Texas; Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, St. Charles, Missouri; Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, Jackson, Wyoming; Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, Rancho Cucamonga, California; Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, Norco, California; Navy Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, Berlin Heights, Ohio; Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, Corryton, Tennessee.