More than 1,400 miles of nonstop running came to an end Thursday with a solemn tribute to the Marines and Navy troops killed in the past decade.
The first three-mile lap of the eighth annual Tribute to the Fallen at Fort Gordon began Oct. 29 and continued daily until all the Marines and sailors who died in Afghanistan or Iraq received a lap in their honor. The last lap Thursday featured runners from every branch of service at Fort Gordon and finished with the crack of 21 shots from a Marine firing detail.
Marine Maj. Richard Anderson used several poems in his address to the assembled troops, including Alan Seeger’s Rendezvous with Death.
Everyone knew when they stood on those yellow footprints there was a chance they would keep that rendezvous with death, Anderson said, referring to the yellow footprints outside Marine Corps recruit depots.
“Marines, stay strong and faithful. Don’t weep or mourn … honor their sacrifice and honor these heroes,” Anderson said.
Navy Cmdr. Todd Gagnon said the Marines demonstrated a clear commitment to their mission of delivering the firing detail’s 21 rounds to the closing ceremony. The sacrifice, the physical pain of running “pales in comparison to the pains and loss of our fallen comrades,” Gagnon said.
Navy Chief Petty Officer Suzie Fowler-Tutt has participated in almost all of the annual runs on post, including 122 miles last year. Her participation was limited this year because of her pending retirement, but she plans to return in 2013 to bring up her total miles. Looking back on her 20 years of service, Fowler-Tutt said the long hours running provided an “opportunity for reflection on your life and your core values.”