HOWARD, WI (WTAQ) - The family of a local fallen soldier are honoring him the best way they know how.
They dedicated a trail in memory of Corporal Justin Ross in his hometown of Howard Saturday.
Cpl. Ross was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan in 2011. He served with the 428th Engineering Company as a combat engineer, doing route clearance.
On what would have been Ross's 25th birthday, his parents, Ron and Debra, along with his military brothers, paid homage to a life cut short. He paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan in 2011.
"You need things to do in order to deal with your grief. And so you do those things, but in the culmination it's joyous, but then your mind goes back to, oh yeah, why were we doing this," Ron Ross told FOX 11.
The Ross family says it kept busy making a trail, connecting several parks in the Village of Howard. They also commissioned a memorial statue in honor of Justin.
"We picked an eagle as a symbol of freedom," said Debra Ross.
"That's very beautiful. That just represents America right there, and that's who Justin was," Ross's friend Ret. Spc. Justin Lang told FOX 11.
The Ross family also hosted the "Lead with the Stache Dash" run.
"Our son, when he was deployed to Afghanistan, they pushed the button a little bit and grew mustaches," said Debra Ross.
Lightening up the somber situation with fake mustaches, just like Justin would have wanted.
From war games, to grounds for a war memorial - the Ross family says they're certain their son's spirit will dwell here long after these flags have flown.
The Ross family says it hopes to continue the Stache Dash every year on the Saturday after September 11th.