TWIN FALLS — Former marine Tristan Wimmer lost his brother Kiernan Wimmer, who was also a veteran, to suicide in November of 2015 after suffering a traumatic brain injury. After Keirnan died, Tristan went to great lengths to honor his younger brother, culminating at Perrine Bridge.
Shortly after Kiernan passed, Tristan went on to keep some of his ashes to keep their physical connection. Tristan then began traveling with the ashes to create memories with his brother by his side.
“I started taking him on hikes and base jumps and long bike rides. I used to take him on climbs," said Tristan. "I took him all over the world.”
As time passed, Tristan decided to start releasing his brother's ashes in areas that were important to him and his brother, like their grandparent's home in North Carolina where they spent many summers together.
“He was a recon marine, and so he did a bunch of training in Coronado, so I was able to sprinkle some there and Mount Humphreys, which is the tallest peak in Arizona. Camelback, a place we used to base jump regularly,” said Tristan.
Tristan also took his brother to places like Norway, Switzerland, Cuba, Costa Rica, Iceland, Italy, and other locations around the US.
During some of his travels, Tristan would release his brother's ashes while base jumping. This action is a big tradition in both the sky diving and base jumping community.
While it was difficult at times to do, Tristan said he felt it was a way to heal and the best thing to do to pay homage to his brother.
“Obligations started to pile up, I wasn’t able to travel as much, and he just sort of sat," said Tristan. "I kept him in a sock drawer for safekeeping and was only taking him out occasionally. It sort of felt a little selfish to just have him sitting in a sock drawer.”
Throughout Tristan's journey, friends were by his side trying to help him along the way. One of these friends was Adam Ghannoum, who actually filled gel capsules with Kiernan's ashes so that Tristan could release them on base jumps.
Adam had never previously handled ashes before and was sure to as careful as possible when putting them inside the gel caps.
“I think I filled like 5 or 6 capsules for him, and he had mentioned the plan to take him to Norway and take him all over Moab and South America," said Ghannoum. "I was present for two of those, so it was pretty awesome to see it come to fruition.”
On Memorial Day Weekend of this year, Tristan participated in the 22 Jumps event which aims to raise awareness for veterans that have died by suicide. The event was also held to raise money for The Cohen Veterans Bioscience NonProfit Research Organization.
This organization focuses on seeing how veterans are affected by traumatic brain injuries. The 22 Jump event raised nearly $40,000 to go towards the organization's research.
In the process of completing the 22 jumps, Tristan also released the rest of the remaining ashes he had of Kiernan.
“I think in releasing his ashes, releasing my physical connection to him and allowing him to actually be at peace and be at rest," said Tristan. "I think that I’ve squared up and come to terms with a lot of that stuff and sort of figure out how it fits into my life. What to take with me, what to leave behind and how to be a better person because of it.”
Tristan had several friends in attendance to witness the special occasion, including Adam Ghannoum. “It was an honor to be a part of but to see the resulting weight lifted off his shoulders was exceptional to see,” said Ghannoum.
Another friend who attended was Sean Chuma, who helped take other guests tandem base jumping while Tristan completed the 22 jumps.
“I’ve noticed in the past with myself, you kind of end up wanting to hold onto someone’s ashes like he did to take them all over the place," said Chuma. "But there is a time where you start to think, ‘Man I need to completely release them and let them go'. So, it was just a real honor to be a part of that.”
Becky Jose, another friend of Tristan's was also at the event and actually helped Tristan mix in red, white, and blue glitter into his Kiernan's ashes.
“It’s always great to see what people do with the darker times in their lives and how they process things and grow and the things that they learn and do," said Jose. "Yeah, I mean, he’s a really amazing driven individual.”