Since 1983, the Memorial Day Tribute has been the grand finale of the BOLDERBoulder. It is open to the public and takes place every year at noon at the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field. This ceremony gives our community the opportunity to pay our respects by honoring the men and women who have fought to protect our country and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. See below for some of the annual highlights that have become traditions for us. Come out and join us in person! 

Sky Divers Carrying Flags of Each Military Branch

The Mile-Hi Sky Diving Team performs their traditional exhibition sky dive to kick off the BOLDERBoulder Memorial Day Tribute. All members of the Mile-Hi Sky Diving team are United States Parachuting Association certified professional exhibition jumpers. Throughout their history with the ceremony the group has varied to include BOLDERBoulder finishers, military personnel including Air Force Academy officers and Colorado natives.

Presenting Our Nation’s Colors, Flyover and 21 Gun Salute

Each year a flyover is provided by the 120th Fighter Squadron from the Colorado Air National Guard, and a 21-gun salute is done by the University of Colorado NROTC members. 

One of the Largest Enlistment Ceremonies in Colorado

Each year we sing of our national anthem, and are honored to watch a group of enlistees take the oath to defend our country. The Star Spangled Banner originated in Baltimore, Maryland, September 1814.

Playing Taps

Here we honor Stewart Boone, who served in World War ll in the 99th Infantry Division. Years ago when Stewart realized the military did not have enough Buglers to play Taps at military funerals and ceremonies, he committed to helping honor our veterans. Taps originated at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, July 1862.

Annual Honorees

Each year we honor various service members by sharing their incredible stories. Over the years we have honored Gold Star Families, Tuskegee Airmen, 10th Mountain Division, Navajo Code Talkers, Special Forces and Medal of Honor recipients among others. After all the fun that is the BOLDERBoulder 10K, for us this always is the most powerful and solemn moment of the day. Expect goosebumps and to swell with pride and tears, every single time.  

Denver 7 News

Official Television & News Station of the BOLDERBoulder

Watch Prior Years Below

The Memorial Day Tribute

The Tribute is open to the public and begins in Folsom Field at NOON on Memorial Day. With as many as 70,000 spectators, this has become the nation’s largest Memorial Day ceremony. 

2023 - The CU Japanese Language School and WWII Pilots

At the 2023 Memorial Day Tribute we honored many different veterans and military programs. From the likes of pilots, to an ROTC commander, to a Japanese language school, the BOLDERBoulder  was honored to recognize these individuals and programs. 

The 2023 Tribute began by honoring the life of Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Roof, the senior military advisor for the BOLDERBoulder Memorial Day Tribute and commander of the University of Colorado Army ROTC unit. Along with being a 1997 West Point graduate, Roof served in the infantry for 18 years, ten of which included Elite Special Operations. He made more than 350 combat insertions into the Middle East and Africa while also leading small strategic teams. Roof experienced severe injuries in combat while defending his country, leading him to receive a Purple Heart amongst many other awards and decorations. He lost his life to his injuries. We honor the Great American warrior and patriot for his bravery and leadership. 

Our second honoree of the day was Marine Corp. Lieutenant Robert Sheeks. In 1942, just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, tensions were high between Americans and those of Japanese descent. During what is considered one of the darkest times in U.S. civil rights history, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which forced over 120,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps in reaction to the bombing. While the internment camps were beginning to fill, the University of Colorado was creating a Japanese language school that would lead to helping the U.S. win the war in the Pacific. Former CU president, Robert Stearns, began lobbying with the Navy to bring schools and personnel to the campus. In June of 1942, the Navy’s Japanese Language School was established at the university. Graduates of the school were sent directly into the Pacific theater on the front lines to act as interpreters and aid key leaders. Lt. Sheeks was one of those interpreters. Sheeks pioneered new methods to coax Japanese soldiers and civilians into surrendering in battlefields such as Tarawa and Saipan. Sheeks used his education from the language school to save countless lives. On top of Sheek’s accomplishments, other graduates of the school helped to rebuild war-torn Japan by assisting in translations, aiding the injured, and guiding in the humane treatment of prisoners of war. 

Our third honoree was Marine Corp. Corporal Don Whipple. At the early age of 17, Whipple landed on the beaches of Iwo Jima and was present for the iconic flag raising on Mount Suri-Bachi. He served side-by-side with CU Japanese Language School graduates. At the time of the tribute, Whipple was one of the few remaining WWII survivors in the state of Colorado. 

Our fourth honoree was glider pilot, Corporal Roger Smith of Loveland. Smith was training to be a pilot when the Army put out news of needing glider pilots to which he immediately enlisted to become one. Gliders were needed in WWII to bring important supplies into the fields without making too much noise. The engines were cut before landing and pilots had to glide the plane safely and quietly to the ground. Smith said of flying that there was nothing about it he did not enjoy.  

Our final honoree of the day was Staff Sergeant Elmer “Lucky” McGinty. McGinty joined the service at 17 and flew in 29 bombing missions across Europe during WWII. At the time of the tribute, McGinty was one of the last surviving WWII B-17 crew members. 

2022 - Love and Faith

At the 2022 Memorial Day Tribute, we honored veterans who shared their stories of love and faith throughout wartime.  


Our first honorees were Ralph and Velora Halgren. Shortly after his 18th birthday, Ralph joined the Navy where he was sent overseas to perform search and rescue efforts during World War II. With women not allowed to join the Armed forces at that time, Velora stayed on the home front where she was a hospital volunteer and later worked on the War Production Board for the American Red Cross. She also corresponded with soldiers who did not receive mail from home by sending them letters. Eventually, Ralph was sent to the Province of Palawan in the Philippines to help decommission the base there for his final act of service in WWII. After the war, Ralph and Velora met at a dance over a pint of beer. Velora did not want to finish the glass, so she offered it to Ralph to which he thought, “Wow, this is a girl to date. She lets me drink her beer!” From that moment on the couple were inseparable and have been married for over 70 years now. They still share their drinks to this day by splitting a martini before dinner every night. The couple resides in Louisville, CO and live by the statement, “love can help ease the heartache of war.” 


Our second honoree was Luther Bergeland. Bergeland joined the Armed forces at the age of 18. He served for over four decades spanning three wars – World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. In WWII, he served on the European front in the 547th Field Infantry Battalion. It was during combat that Bergeland came to a life-changing decision. He describes the moment as, “The Lord found me in a foxhole,” and from there he decided to dedicate his life to his faith. Upon his return to the States, he become a pastor. Bergeland served his faith and country as an Army chaplain during the Korean War. He enjoyed spending his time conducting services in the field and being with the guys in the trenches. It was in these trenches that Bergeland received a Bronze Star, the Army’s honor for heroic achievement. He earned this great achievement during a fateful night where the Chinese divisions were moving against the U.S. He describes the event as being extremely chaotic. The chaos led to the South Korean troops retreating through the U.S. ranks. Bergeland helped to direct traffic and keep things moving. After Korea, Bergeland and his family moved to Boulder where he continued to serve his church and his country through the Army reserves. During the Vietnam War, Bergeland would travel to the Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver one night per week, where he was assigned the difficult task of telling family members that they had lost a loved one. Bergeland served his country for 40 years and despite all the trauma and heartbreak he experienced, he said he would not have had it any other way. 

2019 - Gold Star Families
Gold Star Family are those who have lost a loved one in military service. The Colorado Freedom Memorial holds the names of over 6,000 Colorado Veterans killed or missing in action. It offers Gold Star families of Colorado a place to remember their loved ones. It honors the Coloradans who left to defend their country and never returned.

  • The first of the Gold Star Family Honorees at the 2019 BB was that of the family of Christopher Anderson. Nicknamed, Chris ‘Doc’ Anderson, he grew up in Longmont, CO. with his father, mother, and brother. His family expressed that Christopher had always wanted to join the Navy. He was deployed to Iraq in 2006 with the Marines as a Navy Corpsman. While on patrol, Sargent Greg Edwards lost both legs to an IED and Anderson was there instantly, providing both the medical and emotional support that saved Edward’s life so he could return to his wife and daughters. A few months later, Anderson was killed during a mortar attack on December 4th, 2006. Upon the return of Anderson’s body, his family along with his hometown of Longmont held a parade in his honor before he was buried in Arlington, West Virginia. In attendance at Chris’s funeral was his family and against doctor orders, Sargent Edwards. While they remember Christopher every day, Memorial Day holds a new meaning for the Anderson Family and a reminder to have everyone come together.
  • The second of the Gold Star Family Honorees was father, Jeff Falkel. As a child, Chris Falkel had always wanted to follow in his father, Jeff Falkel’s, footsteps and serve as a special forces soldier. In 2003, Chris achieved that dream as a Green Barret and was soon deployed to Afghanistan where he quickly received the nickname ‘Junior’. After sniper school, Junior told his dad Jeff about his idea to make pens out of shell casings after he returned from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Junior never made it home, in 2005 Junior was killed in action. To carry on his legacy, Jeff created “Junior’s Bullet Pen Company” where he created pens in Juniors honor and to fulfill his dream. Jeff donates much of his proceeds to various military causes, and misses his son’s smile and laughter.
  • The third and final Gold Star Family was the wife, son, and daughter of Charles Wyckoff. Charles met his wife Erika in 2002, and in 2004 Charles joined the Army as an Infantryman. He was soon after deployed and his love showed through the hundreds of letters sent home.  On June 6th, 2007 Charles was killed in action and received both a Purple Heart, Silver Star, and the distinguished service cross for his heroism that day. To this day, Erika credits her love for Charles that helps her carry on after his passing. She honors his memory through working with the American Legion and to her, every day is Memorial Day.

2018 - 10th Mountain Division
The 10th mountain division, formed in 1941, was the first US Army division designated for specialized combat in the mountains and artic conditions. Being trained in skiing, mountain climbing, snowshoes, and survival at high elevations. These were outdoorsman trained to survive at 10,000 feet and fight at altitudes that hadn’t been trained for in the past.

  • Hugh Evans was the first honoree of the 2018 BOLDERBoulder, who joined the 10th Mountain division in 1943. Evans simulated combat at Camp Hale, CO. at the elevation of over 11,000 ft before he was deployed to Italy. In 1945 at Riba Ridge Italy, Evans and his troop scaled over 2,000 feet of rock at night and surprised Germans Troops to capture their strong holds. Evans captured multiple bunkers and forced numerous men to surrender. He received the Combat Infantry Man Badge, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star (post combat), and the Purple Heart.
  • The second honoree, John C. Russell, was a member of the 10th Mountain Division Light Infantry from 1988-1991, after the 10th Mountain Division was reactivated in 1985 based in Fort Drum, New York. This reactivated division was based on squad level maneuvers, where it was small unit focused, trained to survive in the harsh weather designed for quick deployment. Bringing his skills from his first 22 years serving in the army, Russell has helped to perfect logistics in this division. Russell was an interictal part in rebuilding what has now become one of the most deployed units in the army. During his time in the Army, he was deployed in Vietnam, Germany, England, and Iraq. He received the Bronze star and was a ROTC mentor.
  • The final honoree of the 2018 BB was Richard Over. Over was a part of the 10th Mountain Division from 1942-1946 in WW2 at Camp Hale, CO. Having a father in the marine core and growing up skiing made serving in the 10th mountain division a natural fit. After a short time at Camp Hale as a warrant officer in the army transport service, he was relocated to the Aleutian Islands near Alaska to build Military Strong holds. After the war was over, Over returned to Colorado to help develop the Colorado Ski industry in honor of the 10th Mountain Division, a monument to many who didn’t return.


2017 - Comfort

This year was dedicated to the service men and women who comforted soldiers at their moment of sacrifice.

  • Leila Morrison was a U.S. Army Nurse Corp. during World War II. She had just graduated nursing school at the age of 22 when the Army needed nurses. She joined her mobile medical team in Europe, constantly in the face of danger. Near the end of her deployment, Leila provided aid at the liberation of the Bankenveld Concentration Camp. Remembering both the horror of those trapped in the concentration camp, but also, how appreciative they were, she recalls one young man in particular who was so thankful of the U.S. Troops. Today, Leila still talks openly about freedom and about the sacrifice of those Americans that defended it for us all. She hopes to share the message that freedom does come at a high price and a Memorial Day is a day to reflect on this.
  •  Captain Mike Rose, after years of nomination, received the Medal of Honor in 2017. Rose was a Vietnam Era Special Forces Medic who put his own injuries aside to help others who were wounded during operation Tailwind in Laos. This operation consisted of 4 straight days of chaos. He tended to 51 soldiers, guarding their bodies with his own during enemy fire, Rose was even hit by a rocket and survived a helicopter crash, but continued to protect and save lives. While he did save many lives, he is still amazed to this day that any of his team survived and feels he was just doing his job. Humbly talking about his experience, he notes that many soldiers have performed heroic acts in the line of duty who did not receive recognition. Memorial Day is a way to honor these fallen heroes.
  • Dave Smith is a Chaplain for Veterans coming home from Iraq and Vietnam. A Chaplain nurtures the living, cares for the dying, and honors the dead. Chaplain Smith tends to our service member at their moment of ultimate sacrifice and understands the need for support extends beyond the fallen. He provides comfort for the caregivers of the fallen and even the communities, including the precession when the fallen is brought home. On Memorial Day, he remembers those who he has served with and lost. He even remembers those who have served, survived, but are fallen in other ways, those who are healing morally while at home. Smith emphasizes that freedom comes at a price, and, encourages everyone to become more involved and support our Veteran community.

2016 - Special Forces
2015 - Four Coloradans in Aviation
2014 - The Battle of Iwo Jima