Proud veterans gathered at Fort Hamilton on Saturday, September 13, to honor those who gave their lives in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
The Fifth Annual Run for the Fallen commenced at 9 a.m. with service members from all branches of the armed forces bearing the names of battle buddies whom they had lost to the conflict in the Middle East. Banners, flags and runners filled the Shore Road Promenade that morning for a worthy cause.
The Run for the Fallen started in 2008, when a team of runners began a 10-week journey from Fort Irving, California, to Arlington National Cemetery. The team ran a mile for every service member killed in OIF and OEF and marked each mile with an American flag. Since its beginning, the Run for the Fallen has attracted over 50,000 runners who have travelled 200,000 miles collectively.
And the Run for the Fallen in Bay Ridge was no exception. Nearly 150 runners joined the cause, including several civilian non-service members. The number increased from last year, said Jacqueline Prince, the survivor outreach service coordinator at Fort Hamilton.
“We really do get support from everywhere—from the whole community,” said Prince.
Fort Hamilton Garrison Commander Colonel Joseph Davidson and Chaplain Myners gave the welcoming speech and invocation. After the two-mile run, Colonel Davidson placed a ribbon on the Gold Star families—families who lost loved ones to the Middle East.
In memory of Sergeant Mario Nelson, spouse Mecca Nelson, and his daughter Mia made an appearance, along with Emily Toro, the mother of PV2 Isaac T. Cortes.
Runners received T-shirts and water bottles for their dedication, but according to Prince, “they were happy and eager to run, because for them they were there for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”