BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - More than 250 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and DoD contractors united Dec. 12, 2015 to ruck march 12 kilometers to honor the 12 fallen Defenders who died during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
While a portion of the Ruck to Remember was to reflect upon the sacrifices the Security Forces Airmen made, it was also a time to celebrate their memory.
A collage of the 12 fallen Defenders hanging at the start of the “Ruck to Remember,” a 12-kilometer ruck march at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Dec. 12, 2015. The event was designed to honor the sacrifices these Defenders made and to celebrate their lives. (U.S. Air Force photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau)
“I know that sometimes these events are gloomy or sad, but that is not what they would have wanted,” said Maj. Met Berisha, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces commander who served with two of the fallen. “They wouldn't want us to hang our heads. They would want us to finish what they started.”
The event had sign posts with the picture of a Defender who had given their life in defense of their country to mark each kilometer.
Service members who made the trek did so wearing body armor, backpacks with sandbags in them, or just their own two feet. Some ran the entire course, while others carried unit guidons; but they all were motivated by something.
12 reasons to ruck 12K for 12 fallen Airmen
“We are here to recognize their lives, their families, and the contributions they made to our nation” said Capt. Faerber, 455 Air Expeditionary Wing legal office. “It's import for us to recognize the sacrifices made by our security forces.”
“Today we celebrate those 12 Defenders. We celebrate their lives and what they stood for,” said Chief Master Sgt. Matthew Grengs, 455th AEW command chief. “For me, it's special to be out here with my teammates and have the opportunity to honor our fallen Airmen.”
“We are carrying on the legacy of strength and determination that the 12 Defenders left for us to complete the mission,” said Airman 1st Class Aaron Orvedahl 455th ESFS.
Members of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, participate in the Fallen Defenders Ruck to Remember here, Dec. 12, 2015. The 12 kilometer ruck march honors security forces Defenders who have made the ultimate sacrifice in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Joshua Strang)
“I am doing this for Lt. Helton who passed away in Iraq,” said Staff Sgt. Devin Jaggers 455th ESFS. “I am representing his life that he lived and the sacrifices he made.”
“I come out to support any members of any branch who paid the ultimate price,” said Army Staff Sgt. Enrique Sanchez, 373rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
“I did this to honor the fallen and to make sure that their memory is never forgotten,” said Senior Airman Carlie Dickson, 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.
“I personally came out to honor the 12 in pure security forces style with a ruck march, something that we do in our tech school,” said Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Whitney 455th ESFS. “Every time I see their faces on these pedestals it gives me that motivation to continue.”
“I think this is a great way to remember why we are all here in Afghanistan and that you never know what's going to happen,” said Lt. Col. Monique Farness, 966th Air Expeditionary Squadron.
“I am here representing the legacy of Staff Sgt. T.J. Lobraico who passed in 2013,” said Staff Sgt. Flavio Martinez, Task Force Crimson. “He never gave up and he led by example; so I am not going to quit.”
“Part of being in the Air Force is being on a team and being a good wingman, so you want to support your family,” said Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Olson, 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron.
“Anytime we get to chance to support those who have served and sacrificed, I am all for that,” said Capt. John Perry, 455th AEW plans and programs office. “Those guys sacrificed everything, and to know that, it keeps me going.”
“I ran this for little cousin who was a Defender and lost his life,” said Master Sgt. Benito Rodriguez, 455th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron, who ran the entire course in his body armor. “I try to do the best I can for him.”
By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau
Provided through DVIDS
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