Marine Raiders March to Remember
On March 10, 2015 a U.S. Marine UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter went down off the coast of Florida, killing 11 men- 7 MARSOC Marines and 4 Army National Guard members. In an effort to honor those lost a year go, the Marine Raiders and assorted family members began the march over the 770 miles from Navarre, near the crash site at Santa Rosa Sound, to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.
Marine Special Operations Team 8231 lost 7 personnel in that crash, and since then they have recovered with new personnel and are currently deployed. The march began with a memorial service for the men who were lost.
Also killed in the crash were four Air National Guard members from Louisiana: Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wayne Griffin Jr, Chief Warrant Officer 4 George David Strother, Staff Sgt Thomas Florich, and Staff Sgt Lance Bergeron. Uncle Sam’s covered the original crash story.
According to the Marine Corps Times, SSgt Nathan Harris began planning to raise funds immediately after the crash in 2015, both for a memorial and for the families. It came to fruition this March. The Marine Raider Memorial March worked with the non-profit Brothers in Arms to prepare the needed funds for the long journey. Seven two man teams will march in 10-12 mile segments – both day and night- until they arrive at Camp LeJeune.
“We’re going to get frustrated, we’re going to lose toenails and get sore spots on our backs, but the physical thing we’re going to be putting ourselves through is nothing compared to the mental pain that these … families are going to have at every birthday, every Christmas, every March 10.” Staff Sgt Nate Harris
The Washington Post’s military journalist, Dan Lamothe, followed the Marine Raiders when they began the journey on Friday.
Staff Sgt. Nathan Harris, the Marine Raider who organized the march, said the hills near Tallahassee, Fla., exhausted some of the ruckers. As of Monday afternoon, they were moving through southern Georgia. Rucking hurts, he added, but that’s part of the point. Each of the seven teams is carrying an engraved plate with the names of the fallen service members on it and a flag that will be presented to families. An oar found near the crash site and decorated to remember the service members also will make the trip.
Sticking with it
Thus far none of the people involved in the march have quit, but that was as of Monday. As they gathered for a meal before the anniversary, Sgt Justin Hullett proposed a traditional toast:
“We the willing, do the unforgiving, for the ungrateful. We have done so much with so little for so long. We are now able to do anything with nothing. Never above you, never below you, always beside you.”