Service members clapped and cheered as three participants completed their first run around Barton Field at Fort Gordon on Monday morning. The run, known as the Tribute to The Fallen, honors the lives of those lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“They were all of our brothers and sisters so today we will run,” Capt. Michael Lehmer, the commanding officer of the Marine Corp Detachment at Fort Gordon, said as the opening ceremony for the 13th annual tribute run commenced.
During the ceremony, the commanding officer ordered 21 rounds of ammunition be delivered to the firing detail. The group then began the 3.2-mile run around Barton Field. As the group concluded their first lap, they passed along the rounds to the next set of runners, one of whom was Alyssa Singer.
Singer, 19, who will attend basic training for the Marine Corps in January, completed her run as a representative for the recruiting substation in Augusta, where she was recruited. One of the reasons she ran is to honor her great-grandfather, who was a Marine.
“He passed away earlier this year and it’s a way for me to remember him as well as show my support to hopefully future fellow Marines,” she said before making her first lap Monday.
For the next 10 days participants from the Marines, Navy and other military branches at Fort Gordon will continue the run nonstop , passing along the ammunition and bearing three dog tags representing each fallen service member, with each mile set to honor more than 1,500 Marines and Navy personnel who’ve died in combat.
James Meek, who began the tribute run 12 years ago, expressed his gratitude as 35 Marines lined both sides of the finish line to cheer and motivate their peers.
“Even though it’s sad that we are still adding names to the list it definitely does my heart good to know that the same traditions and values that I had when I was a Marine are being carried on and passed along to our young Marines,” he said.
The final lap for the run is scheduled at 8 a.m. next Wednesday, Nov. 8 as the 21 rounds are handed back to the firing detail and a 21-gun salute is performed.