Marching in memoriam: Osgood set to honor late Grundy Center veteran before Iowa-Nebraska game

Zachary Osgood, a 2018 Grundy Center High School graduate and freshman at the University of Iowa who is currently serving in the Army National Guard, stands next to the grave of U.S. Army SPC Joshua Omvig, who took his own life in 2005, at the Rose Hill Cemetery. Osgood plans to honor Omvig on Friday as he marches on to the field at Kinnick Stadium as part of the third annual “The Things They Carried Ruck March.” (Robert Maharry/The Grundy Register photo) 

Zac Osgood was a kindergartner when 22-year-old Joshua Omvig, a fellow Grundy Center native, tragically took his own life after serving an 11-month tour of duty as an Army Specialist and military police officer in Iraq, and despite the fact that they never met, Osgood has never been able to forget.


On Friday morning, Osgood—now a freshman at the University of Iowa studying International Relations and a member of the Army National Guard himself—will carry a flag that flew in Omvig’s honor in Washington, D.C. after the passage of a law bearing his name onto the field at Kinnick Stadium in the lead-up to the annual rivalry matchup between the Hawkeyes and Huskers in a moment that’s almost certain to unite fans of both teams. Josh’s parents, Randy and Ellen Omvig, have given their full blessing.


“We think it’s just a very nice thing that he’s doing, and we’re very proud of what he’s doing,” Randy said.


The Things They Carried Ruck March, as it’s become known, is a joint venture between the veteran’s associations at both universities to raise awareness about veteran suicide: the Nebraska members carry their rucksacks and the game ball from Lincoln to Menlo, Iowa, and the Iowa members take it the rest of the way. Last Sunday, Osgood walked from Menlo to Earlham, and on Friday, he’ll complete the final leg from Oxford to Iowa City.


He credits junior high social studies teacher Todd Zinkula and his own grandmother—who was at the hospital on the night of Omvig’s passing—with introducing him to the story, and even now, he finds himself fighting back tears just thinking about it.


“My hope is that people realize they are not forgotten, regardless of wherever they’ve been and whatever they’ve seen,” Osgood said. “Josh will never be forgotten for what he did, and frankly, I believe that his death did bring quite a bit of awareness. Veterans are much more known.” 


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