Mass. Navy vet who traveled country to visit Gold Star families finishes journey

SWAMPSCOTT, Mass. — A Navy veteran is traveling cross-country and stopping in every corner of America to visit the hometowns of fallen service members and interview their families. His more than year-long journey ended Friday in Swampscott.

Keith Sherman and his camera gear have been everywhere, documenting the stories of the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"Today is a big day," he said on Friday. "It's been two years in the making and 428 days today living on the road living in my car, in my tent, on my roof."

Sherman served 26 years in the Navy, retiring as a senior chief petty officer. He suffers from PTSD and embarked on a journey of healing through the non-profit he established called 'Gold Star Dirt.'

"Have been going to every single state to meet families and share in their tragedy, pain and healing," he said. "And document those stories."

Related: USS Constitution celebrates birthday with Boston Harbor tour

The western Massachusetts native has driven across the country, stopping in every single state and visiting hometowns of the fallen. He’s interviewed those 'Gold Star' families.

Swampscott is his 50th and final stop.

"I feel she's with me every day, even if driving the car," said Raymond Harris, speaking of his daughter.

Harris' daughter, Marine Capt. Jennifer Harris, a Swampscott High grad, was killed in Iraq in 2007 when the helicopter she was piloting was shot down. All seven people on board died.

"She tried to save it three times," Raymond said. "[The] third time it went straight down."

Jennifer was 28 and just weeks away from completing her third tour of duty. The decorated Marine and Naval Academy graduate was the first Massachusetts woman to be killed in Iraq.

"It's been a roller coaster of emotions and it’s been a metamorphosis of sorts," Sherman said. "And I'm just really excited to finish it here and be with Mr. Harris today."

All the interviews, including Friday's, will be submitted to the Library of Congress as part of the 'Veterans' History Project.' The library will hold a special donation ceremony on November 1st because of Keith's project.

Comments on this article