Gold Star families honoring legacies of loved ones by helping others

HOUSTON -- The memory of the first U.S. service member killed in Syria lives on, thanks to his family's sacrifice and service.

Kristin Dayton and her children Hailey and Cole are helping rebuild a home ruined by Hurricane Harvey in Houston. While work swirls around her, Kristin is lost in thought, writing on the wall of the home a message to her husband of 18 years, Scott Dayton. He was killed a year and a half ago in Syria.

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Scott Dayton was killed in Syria CBS News

"It changed our world completely," said Kristin. "So being able to give back, you know, in his name and in his honor is really nice."

There are 12 Gold Star families helping someone else put their life back together. They have all written messages to their loved ones on the kitchen wall. We told Kristin that someday, someone is going to remodel that kitchen, and see the notes left behind.

"I hope they feel the honor that we feel," said Debbie Blackwood, whose family has been living in a hotel since Harvey hit.

"The grief is not the same in any way but there's a connection because there's that loss," she said. "The fact that their loss is helping me get my loss back, because I can't give them theirs back."

Scott Dayton's daughter, Hailey, is now a junior in high school, and she's working while on her spring break. We noticed her using a power saw, and she told us that she used to build things together with her dad.

"It makes me me feel connected to him more," Hailey said.

It took a while for Kristin to finish her note to Scott.

"I wrote, 'The kids and I miss you everyday,'" she said. "'This trip has taught us that we're more like you than we thought, because he actually was a big builder and we didn't realize that we had it in us.'"

The team of Gold Star families was put together by the Travis Manion Foundation, named after a Marine killed in Iraq 10 years ago. Their motto is something he said to a friend before he left for Iraq: "If not me, then who." Gold Star families. That's who.

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