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Lexington Gold Star wife completes tough Alaska hike in honor of late husband

Gold Star Peak Story.jpg
Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 03, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Gold Star wife’s determination to carry on her late husband’s memory has always meant embracing new challenges.

In 2019, Emily Chambers ran a marathon in honor of Marine Corporal Nich Dieruf, who was killed in Iraq in 2004 when the two were newlyweds. This week, she’s back home in Kentucky after a trip up an Alaskan mountaintop in remembrance of Dieruf.

The hike to Gold Star Peak is two miles up, 4,000 feet in elevation, with no switchbacks.

“It was a tough climb, but nothing compared to the heartache of actually losing someone,” Chambers said. “Nothing compared to what our service members go through on a daily basis.”

17 years after her husband’s death, Chambers says Dieruf is always on her mind. His memory is why, when she found out about Gold Star Peak in 2019, she was determined to complete the hike in his honor. COVID-19 meant the trip was delayed, but in August, she was finally able to make the trip with her now-husband Dwayn and some friends.

Gold Star Peak is located outside Anchorage, Alaska. According to military.com, state lawmakers approved its official name in 2018.

For Chambers, the view from the top of Gold Star Peak was a reminder of her late husband’s sacrifice.

“Now that he’s gone, that’s the best way we can heal,” she said. “The best way we can honor him.”

She was even able to place Dieruf’s dog tag at the peak, next to the dog tags of other Marines who were killed during the same timeframe.

“It’s just how we keep him alive in our hearts,” she said.

Chambers left with the knowledge Dieruf is still with her, every step of the way.

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