BERLIN HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – Over the past year, there have been a number of touching tributes to Maxton Soviak, a U.S. serviceman from Erie County who gave his life while helping evacuees during the closing days of the war in Afghanistan.
The family of the fallen hero is honoring his memory, by helping combat veterans in their time of need.
Growing up in the small village of Berlin Heights, young Maxton Soviak‘s constant companion was his German Shepherd, Tango.
“Max used him as a therapy dog, without him being trained as a therapy dog. They were very tight. When Max was down, Tango was there for him,” said his father, Kip Soviak.
Max Soviak had to leave his family and Tango behind when he volunteered for the service and became a dedicated U.S. Navy corpsman.
As the war in Afghanistan was coming to an end in August 2021, the 22-year-old was helping evacuees at the airport in Kabul and was one of 13 U.S. military personnel killed by a suicide bomber.
“It’s rough. I use that word a lot, rough, but the community has been fantastic,” said Kip Soviak.
Northeast Ohioans donated generously to a memorial fund in Max Soviak‘s honor. His family was not sure what to do with the money until they visited some of his comrades during a tribute to Max at Camp Pendleton, California.
“We saw a lot of boys that were going to need a lot of help. Just by interacting with them, we knew that there was going to be some guys struggling,” said Kip Soviak.
That’s when the family decided to establish the Corpsman Maxton William Soviak Memorial Foundation, with a goal of helping combat veterans.
“I mean, anything that you think would help their life ‘to the Max’ is what we’re looking for,” said his father.
As a tribute to Max’s devotion to his beloved Tango, the foundation’s first goal is securing a therapy dog for a veteran suffering from PTSD.
Their first fundraiser, the Tango Trot, will be held on Saturday in Berlin Heights.
Participants and their dogs are invited to take part in a scenic two-mile walk through the village and a fall festival to celebrate Max’s life in the park that he and Tango often visited.
In a touching tribute, his family is also inviting everyone to visit his final resting place at the cemetery in Berlin Heights.
His father says Max would be proud that even in their grief, his family is honoring his mission of ‘living life to the Max,’ while helping the veterans he served with.
“It makes us feel that Max is still with us. We’re honoring him for sacrifices he made, keeping his name alive,” said Kip Soviak.
The hours for Saturday’s Tango Trot in Berlin Heights are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hundreds of dog lovers have already signed up, and others from around the country and the world will be taking part online.