RAMADI, Iraq --
RAMADI, Iraq (August 26, 2008) - The Marines and sailors of 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, came together to honor and remember service members killed during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom August 24.
They did so in a special, but simple and familiar way—they ran.
“Recently, we came together as a unit to run for our fallen comrades in an event called ‘Run for the Fallen,’” said Gunnery Sgt. Frederick White, the Headquarters and Service company gunnery sergeant for the battalion, who helped coordinate the run. “We lost two of our Marines over here, and we just wanted to take time to pay tribute to them.”
The “Run for the Fallen” event kicked off June 14, 2008, in Fort Irwin, Calif., when a group of runners pledged to run one-mile for every service member killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The runners reached Arlington National Cemetery August 24, and throughout their journey across the nation they encouraged others to participate and run at least one-mile for a fallen service member.
Over 325 members of the battalion participated in the three-mile run, with each mile dedicated to a fallen service member.
The first mile was in memory of Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, a 1/9 Marine killed in action on April 22. The second mile was in remembrance of Staff Sgt. Danny Dupre, a 1/9 Marine killed in action July 14. The third, and last mile, was to honor all service members killed.
Members of the battalion became aware of the event from Haerter’s mother, JoAnn Lyles, who said she heard about the run via an email from a complete stranger.
The e-mail was received from Rachel Early Dee, who wrote to Lyles, “His death touched me deeply. I’ve since learned that we share the same birthday and it will be my honor to dedicate this run to him and to all those who have given their lives serving our beautiful country.”
Lyles immediately sent the information to everyone she knew.
“After I read her email, I forwarded the event’s website link to family members, friends and Marines,” Lyles said. “I thought what a perfect way to honor Jordan and other fallen heroes!”
Capt. Gerard Dempster, the battalion’s Headquarters and Service Company commander, brought the service members together after the run to reflect upon the lives of those lost.
“This run was a symbolic memorial for all those fallen,” Dempster told the Marines and sailors. “I think what all of you have done here is phenomenal and I know the Dupre and Haerter families would be proud. President Reagan said it best when he said, ‘Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they’ve made a difference, the Marines do not have that problem.”
The battalion sent several pictures to Lyles after the event. She said she was overjoyed by the large turnout and interest in the run.
“When (the battalion) sent me the poster they made and the photos of the run, I was again overwhelmed at what Marines can accomplish!” Lyles said. “I cried for Jordan. I could not believe that so many people participated and then I thought of the horrible heat, and I still saw smiles on the runner’s faces. I sent the photos to as many people as I sent the run information.”
All together the service members ran over a total of 1,000 miles, which was posted on the event’s official website, www.runforthefallen.org. Members of the battalion have planned more memorial events when they return to Camp Lejeune, N.C., to honor the fallen Marines.