Honoring Cpl. Nicholas Dieruf, MCM and TAPS

On October 27, 2019, in honor of Cpl Nich Dieruf, USMC, Nich’s widow along with several other friends, will participate in the 44th Annual Marine Corps Marathon Events, raising funds to support Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). TAPS provides direct support to families who have been impacted by a death in the military regardless of geography or circumstance. 

Funds raised will help our team with fund raising expenses and fees associated with the Marine Corps Marathon. The remaining gofundme money will be matched by a corporate sponsor, doubling our efforts.

Donations to TAPS supports military survivor families through an amazing network of resources, seminars and publications. TAPS provides these services at no charge to survivors from all branches of the service, including Reserves and National Guard. TAPS’ programs and services are available not only for immediate family, but also for extended family and friends. Please help us honor Nich and other fallen heroes by supporting us in this effort. No donation is too big or too small.

About Team Found My NICHe
By Emily Dieruf Chambers, Gold Star Wife
Unfortunately thousands of widows share a common bond because of Operation Iraqi Freedom, each of us mourning in a myriad of ways. Though it took me several years after my husband’s death to discover this outlet, running quickly become a way escape the days’ stressors, connect with a newfound running community of friends, and get any day started on a positive note.

Fifteen years ago on April 8, 2004 my newlywed Marine husband of just three months Cpl Nich Dieruf was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Let’s rewind back even further to year 2002. In August of that year I met Nich while he was home on leave. An immediate attraction was evident, which led to several trips between Camp Pendleton California (where Nich was stationed) and Kentucky. A romance blossomed and a promise ring given in January 2003 before his first deployment. Thankfully, Nich returned safely to the United States in summer 2003 where he proposed marriage over the July 4th holiday.

Orders for redeployment in mid-February 2004 back to Iraq were received in fall 2003. Despite Nich’s deployment preparations and me wrapping up my senior year of college, we continued to plan our dream wedding. The date was set: January 3, 2004.

The wedding was beautiful: weather unseasonably warm, Nich in his dress blue formal military attire and me in a stunning white gown. As a newlywed couple we honeymooned in Cancun then drove across country to enjoy six weeks together before Nich’s redeployment. When we hugged and kissed each other goodbye on February 18, 2004, we reminded one another that October 2004 (when Nich would complete his enlistment and discharge from the Marine Corp) would be here before we knew it.

Tragically, two uniformed officers informed my in-laws and me that our Nich was killed in action on April 8, 2004. He saved his crew by taking a rocket propelled grenade to the chest during an ambush, killing him instantly. Nich was buried with full military honors in Lexington’s Calvary Cemetery Friday April 16, 2004. Being the first local son-of-war, thousands came out to pay their respects to our Marine who gave all for his country, and for them.

Emotions swirl when reflecting on my whirlwind courtship, engagement and marriage with Nich. First and foremost, I’m often struck with a smile recounting our fun times together. However waves of sadness and tears are a natural occurance, as well.  But more times than not I’m reminded of the heavy sense of gratitude I feel toward Nich. He taught me a great deal in our short time together, the heartiest of lessons being one of unconditional love. Not the unconditional love parents have for their children, rather the ultimate, unquestionable, unwavering love one feels for their spouse. Prior to Nich I convinced myself of not being worthy of receiving that type love.

In Nich I Found My NICHe. I gained respect for myself, learned never to settle, and discovered a tough survivor within.

Likewise, in running I’ve also Found My NICHe.  Friendships formed over the miles are one of a kind; I could not be more humbled or proud to run alongside our team.

It is our pleasure to run the 2019 Marine Corp Marathon in remembrance and honor of Cpl Nich Dieruf. Thank you for your support of us, Nich and of course TAPS.

Fundraising team: Found My NICHe (6)

Dwayn Chambers
Lexington, KY
Emily Chambers
Allison Moore
Team member
Angie Kallop
Team member
Emily Miller
Team member

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