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’31 Heroes’ beer brew in KC honors 30 service members, canine killed in 2011 Afghanistan attack

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Six years ago this weekend, the War on Terror hit home in a big way. A helicopter crash in Afghanistan killed 30 U.S. soldiers, including heroes from the Kansas City area. But their legacy is alive and well.

The ’31 Heroes Project’ will be just about everywhere in Kansas City this weekend. At 1 pm Saturday afternoon, the Torn Label Brewing Company will relaunch a specialty brew called ’31 Heroes’.

Bryan Nichols

It’s the second year for the brew, a collaboration between Torn Label and Mary Nichols, who lost her husband, Bryan Nichols, in the August, 2011 tragedy in Afghanistan. Nichols was an Army Reservist who flew helicopters with the ‘7-158th Aviation Regiment out of Gardner, Kansas.

“It destroys your whole world, because Brian and I were best friends,” Mary Nichols said.

They were husband and wife, but they were also beer buddies.

“I thought the best way to honor his memory was to do a craft beer for him.”

Mary Nichols didn’t know a thing about how to make beer. She also had no idea how eager people were to help out.

“Mary approached us about three years ago now,” said Rafi Chaudry, one of the Co-owners at Torn Label.

Last year, Torn Label Brewing in Kansas City put out its first batch of “31 heroes”.

The Wheat/IPA beer’s name honors all 30 service members, and the American K-9 who went down with them.

“This one was totally different. This one is all about making sure Mary and everybody affected by the tragedy was happy with the beer. And she seems to be and that's the most important thing for us, that it’s a beer she's happy with and that she thinks Brian would be happy with,” Chaudry said.

On Saturday you can once again buy ’31 Heroes’ beer at the Torn Label tap room, starting at one p-m.

Some of the proceeds will benefit the ‘Special Ops Warrior Foundation’.

“This charity is paying for all of the kids college from the crash so this is my small way of giving back for them doing that,” Mary Nichols said.

The ’31 Heroes’ brew launch at Torn Label follows a 5K run in the morning in honor of Spencer Duncan, another local in Nichols’ unit, the ‘7-158th Aviation Regiment out of Gardner, Kansas.

“I want to cry when I see my dream come to life,” Nichols said.