Marching To Remember

Published 6:00 pm Friday, July 29, 2011

Air Force security forces members fromColumbus Air Force Base marched into Brookhaven Thursday,completing their 146-mile leg of a march that began in Texas andwill end in New York.

    The 14th Security Forces Squadron was participating in the “RuckMarch to Remember,” an event organized and undertaken by volunteersfrom 23 security forces across the country to mark the 10thanniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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    “It was worth it, a great time,” said Staff Sgt. William Noble, a14th Security Forces Squadron airman.

    The Ruck March to Remember began at the Security Forces center nearSan Antonio, Texas, and will conclude at Ground Zero in New YorkCity on Sept. 11.

    Each of the 23 participating units is taking responsibility formarching a certain length of the total distance.

    The volunteers from Columbus AFB, 20 in all, began July 24 andmarched from near Alexandria, La., to Brookhaven.

    Sizzling temperatures were with them most of the way.

    “I took a reading one day of 96 degrees,” said Airman First ClassChase Hedrick. “But that does not account for humidity.”

    The airmen rotated marching by foot, carrying the Ruck March toRemember guidon, a military flag displaying the Security Forcesmotto and emblem.

    Each airman carried approximately 50 pounds in their rucksacks,including an 11-15 pound flak vest. Hedrick explained that theseconditions were nothing new to the security forces members on themarch.

    “They are used to the heat, many having deployed to Iraq andAfghanistan and having trained in the heart of Texas,” he said.

    Noble agreed with this sentiment.

    “The heat and sweat comes with the territory,” he said.

    Most days the march began at 7 a.m. and went until 6 p.m, coveringanywhere from 20-50 miles in a day.

    “We didn’t stop once we started,” Noble said. “We ate protein barsand shakes along the way, and a hot meal at the end of theday.”

    At the National Guard Armory on Highway 84, the Columbus AFBmembers handed over the guidon to Ruck March to Rememberparticipants from Hurlburt Field in Florida, who will march 142miles.

    Employees from Home Depot were waiting at the armory to donatewater to the airmen as they arrived.

    “It’s our job to support our troops,” said Greg Marlow as he helpedthe airmen load the crates of water into a van.

    Marlow still remembers the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks clearly, part ofthe motivation that brought him to the armory Thursday.

    “The attack seems like yesterday,” he said. “I spent my lunch hourin a restaurant that had a big TV so I could watch the news. Peoplewalked around like zombies afterwards.”

    Tammie Crosby, also Home Depot employee, likewise has a hard timebelieving that 10 years have passed.

    “Ten years. It’s hard to get a hold of,” she said.