HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS - 11/3/2011) -- Fifteen Air Force
Special Operations Command special tactics Airmen, along with two
from Air Combat Command, embarked on a 10-day, 812-mile march to
memorialize 17 fellow special tactics Airmen who died in combat.
Friends, families and coworkers show support while marching alongside 18 Special Tactics Airmen as they complete an 812-mile memorial march from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to Hurlburt Field, Fla.
on Nov. 2, 2011. The Tim Davis Memorial March is conducted each year that a Special Tactics Airman loses his life in defense of his country. U.S. Air Force photo
by Master Sgt. Steven Pearsall
Marching from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, to Hurlburt
Field, Fla., these combat controllers and pararescuemen each
carried a 50-pound rucksack and a baton engraved with the
name of a fallen Airman.
The Tim Davis Memorial march
only takes place if a special tactics Airmen is lost during
a fiscal year. This year, the 24th Special Tactics Squadron,
at Pope Field, N.C., lost three Airmen in a CH-47 Chinook
crash Aug. 6 in Afghanistan.
The march is named after
Staff Sgt. Tim Davis, who was killed in 2009 from an
improvised explosive device. His sister, Noel Davis, joined
the team half-way through the march hoisting a 50-pound
rucksack on her back.
"I love coming down and
participating in the rucksack march," Davis said. "All these
guys remind me of my brother in how they act and their sense
of humor. I love being surrounded by them. I choose to wear
the 50-pound ruck because Tim would expect no less. Tim and
all the other amazing men who gave all will never be
forgotten and special tactics just doesn't say that -- they
The Airmen marched through Texas,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. They said all
along the route they were greeted with tremendous support
from school children, community members, veterans, police
and firemen. There were people in tears as the American flag
passed and people in tears as they remembered their lost
One of the marchers, Airman 1st Class
Mike Thompson, a combat controller from the 21st Special
Tactics Squadron at Pope Field, said he didn't know the men
but knew he wanted to be part of the march regardless.
"It's just important to me to show a lot of our families
who have lost loved ones that we still remember those men,"
Thompson said. "I think it means a lot to them for us to be
His most memorable experience on the march
is when they walked by a retirement home and the employees
brought out retirees and veterans. He said just hearing some
of their stories meant a lot to him.
Senior Airman Jordan Dehlbom, a pararescueman with the 48th
Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., said
he cannot imagine what the families experience when they
"I just hope that, whether the families
are involved in this or not, the message gets to them some
way that their loved one, their son, their husband, their
brother, whatever he was, is not forgotten," Dehlbom said.
"He is always remembered and every day somebody who worked
with him, that knew him and even people who didn't know him,
talk about him. He lives on through that memory."
marchers made it home Oct. 26 and were greeted by more than
300 family members, friends and comrades who marched the
last 4.6 miles home to Hurlburt Field.
A ceremony was
held to turn over the batons for display in the Special
Tactics Training Squadron Hall of Heroes. Accepting the
batons from each marcher was the commander of the STTS, Maj.
Travis Woodworth, who said it is pretty "audacious" to march
"A lot of people will ask, 'Why do they
walk 812 miles,'" Woodworth said. "I guess a better question
to ask is, 'Why not?'"
Woodworth asked the audience
to think about the men who marched every day for 10 days for
four hours with a 50-pound rucksack.
"And as they're
walking you'll hear, 'There went my toe-nail,' but they kept
marching; you hear, 'Hey, I think I'm walking on blood,' but
they kept marching; 'I think my knee just blew out;' 'I
think I'm rubbing a hole in my back,'" Woodworth said. "But
the answer they always said was, 'At least I feel that pain,
at least I have that knee and I can patch that back.' That's
what happened here today."
Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel,
commander of AFSOC, captured the sacrifice borne every day
by Special Tactics Airmen and their families.
the folks who are part of the special tactics team, past,
present and future, to all the families, the nation has
asked quite a bit of you guys over the last 10 years or so,"
Fiel said. "You come back banged up, beat up. Some of you
are on your 15th, 20th, 25th deployment and there is really
no end in sight. We're going to continue to ask a lot of
Fiel told the families that the Special
Tactics men could not do what they do for AFSOC without
their support. He summed up that over the last 10 years the
special tactics community has produced four Air Force
Crosses, 26 Silver Stars, three Distinguished Flying
Crosses, 200 Bronze Stars with valor device, 460 Bronze Star
medals, 90 Purple Hearts, 90 wounded in action and 17 killed
"To all the members of the special tactics
team, I really appreciate all you do for us as a nation, and
I just say thank you," Fiel said.
Fiel also thanked
the supporters who were instrumental in motivating and
bandaging the marchers along the way.
One of the
supporters, Tech. Sgt. Sara Cabuag, with the 21st STS, knew
three of the fallen Airmen. She was responsible for driving
a support vehicle during the march, making sure the men hit
their specific times and locations and that they had all the
supplies they needed during the march.
"I think the
family members were very proud of the march and the marchers
who poured their heart and soul into this mission," Cabuag
said. "It assures them that their loved one has not been
forgotten and never will be."
John Carney Jr., the
president of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, said
none of this could have been accomplished without great
patriots and Americans throughout the country who believe in
what the team was doing and supported in every way they
Dehlbom remembers when Cub Scout Pack 221 from
Madisonville, La., came out to support. He remembers one
little boy in a stand-up wheelchair who was all smiles to
see the marchers.
"He was an incredible inspiration
for all of us," Dehlbom said. "He was all gung-ho. He wanted
to go the entire way with us to Florida and he was out there
ripping it up. He went forward with us for probably about a
mile and a half but you could tell he wanted to go farther.
That's what it's all about. We will never give up no matter
how difficult the situation."
By USAF Maj. Kristi Beckman
Air Force Special Operations
Command Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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