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Week of the Eagles Run for the Fallen – Fallen But Never Forgotten

Written by Spc. Sara Connolly
2nd Brigade Combat Team UPAR

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionFort Campbell, KY – The sun rises on a somewhat seasonably cold Saturday Kentucky morning, a mass of people gather in an open lot; they shake hands, embrace each other, they’ve come to honor their fallen heroes.

The Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), know the importance of honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom.  During this Week of the Eagles 2012, the Run for the Fallen event was held at the Sabalauski Air Assault School, August 11th, bringing Soldiers, Veterans and Family members together to remember.

Michelle Leibold, wife of Spc. Jeff Leibold, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), pay their respects to a fallen comrade during the Run for the Fallen Aug. 11th. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joe Padula, 2nd BCT PAO, 101st ABN.DIV)
Michelle Leibold, wife of Spc. Jeff Leibold, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), pay their respects to a fallen comrade during the Run for the Fallen Aug. 11th. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Joe Padula, 2nd BCT PAO, 101st ABN.DIV)

“They may be gone, but they are not forgotten,” said Chief warrant officer two Jesse Tucker, a 29-year old from Vancouver, WA and a systems maintenance technician with the 101st’s 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. “We do it in the memory of our fallen comrades”.

Each participant who registered wore the name of a fallen battle buddy displaying their remembrance. On the front of Tucker’s shirt was stapled a piece of paper with the name Spc. A.J. Castro. On August 28th 2010, Castro, a human intelligence specialist with Company B, 2nd BSTB, was killed in action while on patrol in southern Afghanistan. Tucker hasn’t forgotten him and during this Run for the Fallen , brought his memories of Castro, who he said was always smiling.

“He made an impact on us and the rest of the unit,” said Tucker while reflecting on Castro.

Soldiers with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), unite together for one purpose, to honor their Fallen Comrades during the Run for the Fallen held at Fort Campbell’s Sabalauski Air Assault School, Aug. 11th. The run is an event which is a part of the Week of the Eagles 2012 that honors today’s Soldier’s, military families, veterans and Gold Star families. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Sara Connolly, 2nd BCT PAO, 101st ABN.DIV)
Soldiers with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), unite together for one purpose, to honor their Fallen Comrades during the Run for the Fallen held at Fort Campbell’s Sabalauski Air Assault School, Aug. 11th. The run is an event which is a part of the Week of the Eagles 2012 that honors today’s Soldier’s, military families, veterans and Gold Star families. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Sara Connolly, 2nd BCT PAO, 101st ABN.DIV)

Fallen infantrymen, combat medics, combat engineers, artillerymen and cavalry scouts, all military occupations recognized their fallen.

“It just goes to show that everything our soldiers do will never be forgotten,” said 1st Sgt. Johnny Carter, an Alabama native and the first sergeant of Headquarters and Headquarters Company 2nd BCT, who ran with the name of Staff Sgt James P. Hunter, a combat correspondent with HHC, 2nd BCT, killed in Kandahar June 18th, 2010. “It’s an honor really for me to be running with his name on my back, knowing that people will see who I’m running for.”

Those participating in the event were not racing against each other, but there to show support and continue to show the 101st’s Fallen Eagles are not forgotten. All brigades and personnel on Fort Campbell put aside their rivalries to unite as fellow brothers and sisters in arms. A flag for each 101st Soldier lost in Operation Enduring Freedom10-11 was planted in the landing zone of the Air Assault school making a blanket of red, white and blue visible to UH-60 Blackhawks helicopters flying overhead and the participants running by.

The event is a 5k run and running for long distances at times can be difficult for some and many debate on giving up, quitting. Tucker draws strength from his memories of his fallen comrades when he reaches this point.

“You know sometimes you’re out there running and you’re like ‘I’m getting tired’ and there’s been times when I said to myself, ‘you know what, there’s people right now that if this was the hardest thing they were doing for their day, they would be pretty happy, because some of them are  no longer with us,” said Tucker. “And believe it or not, that carries me on. Again, they may be gone, but they are not forgotten.”

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