Airmen and local community members came together April 29, 2017, to honor military members who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country in the annual March of the Fallen rucksack march through White Tank Mountain Regional Park.
More than 300 people participated in this year’s event including 200 Thunderbolts, doubling the number of participants since the program began. The event doesn’t happen without the support of 55 volunteers and 45 volunteers from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., provided support.
“We exceeded our goal this year and we’re looking forward to growing every year,” said Chief Master Sgt. Richard Pelletier, 56th Maintenance Group wing weapons manager. “We really show the bond between the community and the military. You can see the pride in the ruckers’ eyes as they cross the finish line. To honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice is an amazing feeling. ”
The March of the Fallen is a 4.5-mile ruck march dedicated to honoring those who gave their lives during the war efforts of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
Participants who rucked were challenged to ruck from 45 to 75 pounds and were accompanied by motivators who encouraged them to the finish line.
“The March of the Fallen gives the military and local community a chance to bond together as one,” said Master Sgt. Douglas McGraw, 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron production superintendent. “We team up to remember those who came before us.”
The rucksack march was created in 2011 by Staff Sgt. Alan McMurray, 56th Medical Operations Squadron physical therapy technician, after consolidating a combination of ideas and past experiences.
“Their watch is now over, so we carry their weight upon our backs and continue onward in their honor,” said McMurray.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and Luke Airmen’s Fund.