Lest We Forget: teams4taps Brings 2 Families Together to Honor Their Heroes in Scotland
Author: Kristi Stolzenberg
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive.” - Anais Nin
Great loss has a way of making the world feel larger than you ever noticed. You wonder if anyone will ever understand your pain, or — perhaps more practically — if you’ll ever be able to explain the extent of your grief to a world that kept turning the day yours stopped.
TAPS has an undeniable ability to make the vast world feel small again. It has a way of breaking intimidating situations into manageable steps because you are connected with a network of peers journeying through life after loss with you.
Imagine, if you can, stepping out onto the pitch of a professional football club as a child. It’s much larger than you pictured. You’re suddenly aware of how small you are next to the towering team of professional athletes. The roar of the crowd, the heat of the lights, the comforting (though still intimidating) hand of the pro footballer in yours, keeping you rooted in the moment and on course — it’s enough to make even the bravest hearts beat a little faster. But, an arm’s length away is another brave kid feeling everything — the excitement and the butterflies — right along with you. Though you haven’t known him long, you know him well because, like you, he knows sacrifice; he speaks the language of grief; and he is walking this walk with you.
Honoring Their Dads in a Big Way
Chris Frison and Connor Savage had never met prior to the TAPS Scotland Experience that brought them under the lights of Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on November 9, 2022. Chris, 11 at the time, and Connor, 9, joined the team on the pitch ahead of kickoff as just one component of the Rangers Football Club Remembrance Day game.
TAPS coordinated with the Rangers Football Club and the Rangers Charity Foundation to bring Chris and Connor to the game, along with their moms, Mikki Frison and Lynzy Savage, to honor their dads, who were both killed in action in Afghanistan. Chris and Connor overcame their nerves together to serve as the mascots for the Rangers Football Club Remembrance Day fixture. The footballers rallied behind the boys, donning red poppies and pins in honor of fallen heroes.
But it wasn’t just the athletes and incredibly accommodating Rangers staff who looked at Chris and Connor and saw strength and sacrifice. The stadium, typically aroar at game time, fell silent prior to kickoff, and a tifo spanned the Broomload Road end, reading “Lest We Forget” as the boys boldly stood on the pitch, their moms beaming with pride as they watched the opening ceremony. Connor’s mom, Lynzy, shared that “Connor was so nervous” when the boys walked down to the tunnel to meet up with the team, “but when he returned, he was ecstatic! Watching Connor overcome his nerves to be the mascot and have such a wonderful experience was a highlight for me.”
Connor and Lynzy’s Story
In 2013, Lynzy was pregnant with Connor, and her husband, Cpl William “Sav” Savage, 2nd The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was deployed in Afghanistan. By April 2013, Sav had served 10 years in the Army and completed two tours in Iraq, and three in Afghanistan. But, Connor — born two months later, in June 2013 — never got the chance to meet his dad, who Lynzy describes as “the life and soul” of their family. Sav was killed by an IED, along with two other soldiers, in Helmand Province.
Though Lynzy wishes Connor could have known his dad, she shares that they are similar in many ways, always calm in a crisis and handsome. Although Sav enjoyed sports, she admits he was “terrible at soccer to the amusement of his fellow soldiers!” Connor plays every sport he can, including soccer and flag football.
Years later, in 2019, Connor and Lynzy first came to TAPS, having learned about it through a British charity with a similar mission to support bereaved children of British Forces soldiers, Scotty’s Little Soldiers. Lynzy shared that even before the Scotland Experience in November 2022, TAPS positively impacted both her life and Connor’s — “he has made lasting friendships and has such support, and I know if I ever need any help or advice, TAPS is always there to listen, help, and guide.”
Chris and Mikki’s Story
Mikki and her husband, U.S. Army 1LT Demetrius Frison, welcomed their son, Chris, in November 2010. The family of three spent just seven weeks together before Demetrius’ deployment to Afghanistan, and Mikki remembers that in those seven weeks, Demetrius did everything he could as a new dad. “If Chris cried in the middle of the night for a diaper change, he would get up and do it, and tell me ‘No, I’ve got this…I want to do all these things while I’m still here.’”
His service heart made him a natural leader in the Army. Mikki shares that Demetrius “lived by the infantry mantra, ‘Follow me.’ He was always out in front. He always said that if anything was going to happen, it was going to happen to him, never his men.” Just one month after his promotion to 1LT, Demetrius died in Khost Province from wounds suffered following an IED blast.
Like Connor, Chris loves playing soccer — he’s been playing since he was 3 years old. Mikki imagines how proud her husband would be watching his son be this “small-but-mighty” soccer superstar. “He would definitely be beaming. I can hear him saying, ‘That’s my son out there…that’s my boy.’”
Never Alone with TAPS
As Chris and Connor made their way out of the tunnel together onto Ibrox Stadium on November 9, they didn’t face it alone. They faced it together. They faced it with support from the players, staff, and fans all around them. They honored their heroes in a big way — a way that is pretty cool for two young soccer players. And that is what TAPS strives to do for everyone who lost a military or veteran loved one — we want you to know that with TAPS, you are never alone. We walk this journey with you, supporting you each step of the way, honoring your hero, recognizing your sacrifice, and helping you create precious friendships and memories along the way.
Watch the video recap of the TAPS Scotland Experience with original music by Shaz Martin.
Lynzy shares that through TAPS, “Connor has made some great friends with his mentors and fellow Good Grief Camp buddies.” She has made some life-long friendships as well. “These friendships we have both made are so special to us. It’s amazing to share stories with people who understand what you’ve been through.”
Lynzy, Mikki, Connor, and Chris, thank you for sharing your stories with us.
Share Your Story
If you would like to honor your fallen hero through a favorite sport or team, send an email to email@example.com.
Kristi Stolzenberg is the TAPS Magazine Editor.
Photos: TAPS Archives