BEAUMONT, Texas — Students at the Shark Summer Camp in Sabine Pass have revamped a bench in the school's sports complex.
The bench honors former Sabine Pass graduate and Army Specialist Ryan Berg who lost his life while serving in Iraq in 2007. He was 19 years old when he died.
The bench has been in the sports complex for 12 years and has stood strong during most hurricanes, but after hurricane Laura, Sarah Cropper, Sabine Pass physical education coach, noticed the bench had rust and mold on it.
“Last year, after hurricane Laura, I came out here to clean out some stuff,” Cropper said. “I noticed the bench was looking a little rough.”
Cropper decided to do something nice for the Berg family with the help of her Shark Camp students.
“I remember asking Scottie Ray (Ryan Berg’s mother) if she would mind if we cleaned it up and refurbished it,” Cropper said. “I thought that could be a fun little project for the kids to do especially the ones who are apart of Ryan’s and Scottie’s life.”
During the revamping process, Cropper sent photos to keep the mom up to date.
“When something bad happens we all come together,” Ray said. “It just warms my heart. He always had a big heart. He always worked for the victim and for the kid that was being bullied.”
Even though some of the students were not born when Berg lost his life, they understood the impact Berg’s life and death had on the community.
“He sacrificed his life for our freedom,” Cropper said.
Ryan Berg’s cousin Reid Saunders, 11, was one of the students who helped revamp the bench.
“I did it because Ryan is my cousin,” Saunders said. “I love him and support him. I wanted to do something for him.”
The bench’s purpose is to bring people together just like Berg did, in his life and his death.
Ryan Berg was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star to honor his courage during combat.
A picture of Berg sits right across from the bench, so generations of students know who Ryan Berg was and the sacrifices that he made.