Participants in Saturday’s Run for the Fallen at the Stout Physical Fitness Center track run and walk in support of Sgt. Joshua Soto, D Company, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, and other servicemembers who have fallen during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Photo by Bryan Macias, Fort Bliss Monitor.
Fort Bliss Monitor Staff
Soldiers, families and civilians gathered at the Stout Physical Fitness Center track Saturday to participate in the Run for the Fallen, an event created to remember Soldiers who have fallen in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
According to the Run for the Fallen Web site, the event began nationally in 2008 after a group of runners ran from Fort Irwin, Calif., to Arlington National Cemetery, Va., planting a flag at every mile to represent each Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Aug. 24, 2008, runners around the world dedicated themselves to running in remembrance of all those fallen in OIF and OEF.
Now in its second year, the event has made its way to Fort Bliss with the help of Team Tiger, the spouses and families of 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, in honor of the late Sgt. Joshua Soto of D Company, 1-77 AR.
Participants were encouraged to wear tags displaying the names of fallen Soldiers as a sign of those they were supporting. Those who attended were free to walk whatever distance they chose, but the first mile was dedicated to Soto.
“We’re just out here to show support to Sergeant Soto’s wife and the rest of the fallen Soldiers,” said Cynthia Yur-aska, whose husband, Sgt. Maj. Roger Yuraska, is deployed with 1-77 AR.
Soldiers from D Co., 1st Bn., 37th Armor Regt., were in attendance to support its sister unit, 1-77 AR, and Soto.
“They’re deployed, so we do what we can to take care of 1-77 [AR] here at home,” said 1st Sgt. William Thompson of D Co., 1-37 AR, “If they need any assistance and when we deploy, they’ll return the favor. It’s been a tradition for quite some time.”
In addition to 1-37’s D Co. “Dealers,” civilians and Soldiers from other units participated in the run.
Staff Sgt. Stephen Ford of B Co., 2nd Bn., 6th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, attended the event along with his wife and daughter in support of Soto, Soldiers from his unit lost during his deployment to Iraq and all those who’ve fallen in the fight.
“I’ve always believed in doing what I could for the fallen Soldiers,” Ford said, “so I just wanted to come out here and run a few miles. They’re not here, so I think we should remember them as best we can.”
Sylvia Brito saw an advertisement for the race at her church and decided it was a cause she wanted to support. She brought friend Maria Trejo along to join the cause.
“We’re just here for everybody,” Trejo said, “to support the Soldiers.”
Amy Thompson, wife of 1st Sgt. Thompson, said this event fits in with another event Team Tiger is a part of – Walking Iron Strong for our Heroes.
WISH brings teams together to walk the full distance to Iraq while stateside, a feat done in support of troops to metaphorically show that those at home are right there with them, something near to the hearts of Team Tiger as their loved ones remain deployed in Iraq. The battalion conducts a Wish Walk once a month in order to promote this end, with this month’s occurring concurrently with Run for the Fallen.
Thompson said the farthest team has walked approximately 4,180 miles or, in geographical terms, they have walked from El Paso and passed Bermuda on their way to the Middle East.
“I don’t know what the total distance is to Iraq, but they are walking it,” Thompson said.
According to 1st Sgt. Thompson, events such as these serve as reminders of the work being done abroad by the military.
“Even as Soldiers we appreciate what it is those boys are doing,” Thompson said.
“You don’t have to be a civilian to show respect to your armed services, to your brothers and, certainly, not to your fallen comrades.”