The living room of Marsha and Jeremy Freyholtz’s Hutchinson home is a memorial. Several photos and a handmade plaque from Hutchinson’s Saluting Community Heroes event keep the memory of their son, Cody Claycamp, alive. But they’re not alone in honoring him.
“He loved being in the Army,” Marsha said. “When he was in the Army, it was good. In high school he was a stinker and a half, like most boys.”
Claycamp entered active service in the United States Army on March 3, 2015, and was deployed in 2017. At the age of 22, the 2014 Hutchinson High School graduate died by suicide in 2018 after returning from Afghanistan. He was based in El Paso, Texas, when he died. Marsha remembers her son as a happy-go-lucky guy with a love for hunting and fishing.
“He lost a buddy in Afghanistan and two more committed suicide,” she said. “And then he had a buddy here who committed suicide. (Cody) passed away the next month.”
This Friday, roughly 100 motorcycles will cruise into Hutchinson and stop at Northwoods Park near the Freyholtz’s home. As part of the Minnesota Tribute to the Troops annual memorial ride, the group will be there to tell Marsha and Jeremy Minnesota remembers their son’s sacrifice. The ride started in 2004 in response to dwindling coverage of casualties in the war on terror.
“When the first Minnesota soldier came home and had been killed, it was headline news everywhere,” said Jim Woodruff, who serves on the board of the Minnesota chapter of Tribute to the Troops. “As it became more common place and more guys were coming back, it was less and less of a story. So volunteers got together. We didn’t want these families to think they had been forgotten.”
In the ride’s first year, three families were visited by 30 participants on 20 motorcycles.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but it was very emotional,” Woodruff said. “It’s grown significantly since then.”
The ride will visit families around the state Friday and Saturday. To learn more about Tribute to the Troops, the memorial ride, or the Fallen Heroes’ Children’s Education Fund, visit tributetothetroops.org.
The memorial ride’s 11 a.m., one-hour visit to Hutchinson this Friday will be the second on the itinerary. Others are welcome to join the visit and honor Claycamp’s memory, along with family members planning to take part. Claycamp is survived by his son, Steven.
“We’ve been to homes where the entire neighborhood was there, and when it’s just been mom and dad,” Woodruff said. “It can be anything in between. It doesn’t matter to us. We’re there to support the family no matter what. We’ll go to the park across the street, set up there and have the presentation. We’ll be there about an hour, and hopefully we’ll be a little part of the healing process.”
“It’s amazing. It’s overwhelming a bit,” Marsha said. “But I am very honored that they are doing that and he is not forgotten.”