It’s been nearly 11 years since Marine Cpl. Matthew Dillon was killed when his Humvee was struck by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2006, but Hero’s Rock, an organization that builds rocking horses for fallen heroes, is doing its part to continue to honor the Aiken native’s service.
Dillon is featured on one of the tribute rockers due to the involvement of his parents – Neal and Lucy Dillon – at the Fisher House at the VA Hospital in Augusta. The rocker was delivered Tuesday, escorted to the Fisher House by the Patriot Guard.
Trish and Scott Snyder, Hero’s Rock organizers from California, have traveled across the country in their RV over the last six years, delivering 34 rockers to family members and Fisher Houses, a military version of Ronald McDonald Houses that gives families a place to stay while a loved one spends extended periods in the hospital.
The Snyders are currently on their east coast tour, delivering Patriotic Ponies to Fisher Houses in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina and Delaware.
The Augusta delivery is stop number six on the most recent tour.
Hero’s Rock will also deliver a rocking horse to a family of a fallen police officer in Louisiana during the tour.
The Patriotic Ponies are red, white and blue with a picture of the fallen service member on the horse. The Snyders build the ponies while volunteers paint, help assemble and customize each rocker. Each pony comes with a book with happy stories about the person.
“Some of these soldiers have been gone a while – as long as 20 years,” Trish Snyder said. “It’s just a tribute to them to have a child happily playing with the rockers.”