- A total of 2,213 Soldiers, Family members and civilians participated in the third annual Run for the Fallen.
As the sun rose slowly in the cloudy sky above Waholi Pavilion Saturday, people from all walks of life gathered to remember those who died in service to their country.
A total of 2,213 Soldiers, Family members and civilians participated in the third annual Run for the Fallen, hosted by Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Fort Campbell participants completed a one-, two- or four-mile course, to accumulate 8,488 miles.
The non-competitive run began in 2008 as way to honor military service members who lost their lives in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. These first runners completed a cross country trek from Fort Irwin, Calif., to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
"This run started three years ago when the Family and friends of a Soldier, specifically 1st Lieutenant [Michael] Cleary, died 10 days before he was to return home, meet his fiancAfAe and get married," said Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Commander Col. John P. Cook. "So, his Family and friends got together and decided to run across this great nation, which they did 4,000 miles. They wanted to run one mile for every fallen Soldier in the war. So today we are here to remember all the great Soldiers in this great country that have given that 'last full measure as devotion,' as President Lincoln said."
Cook emphasized the great traditions of the 101st Airborne Division and the sacrifices of its Soldiers throughout history in a message to those gathered for the Run for the Fallen.
"The comradeship that we share as Soldiers and as a community is like no other," he said. "Embrace it. And I would ask you on this run this morning, to think about that individual who gave their life for their country and all the things that they will not see and realize because of their ultimate sacrifice."
Since 2001, 366 Fort Campbell Soldiers have been killed in action. Flags placed in a field not far from the starting line served as a visual representation of these fallen Soldiers.
With about 20,000 deployed to Afghanistan from Fort Campbell this year, many remaining Soldiers gathered with others from their unit to participate.
"It's a good thing to support fallen comrades, and I take advantage of the running," said 563rd Aviation Support Battalion Pfc. Kevin Kuhl, who came decked out in his PT uniform. "[I] got to show support with all the teams. It's a good thing."
While some came for the exercise or for an enjoyable Saturday morning activity, the event was much more personal to those who have lost a Family member. Each participant wore a runner's bib to indicate who they were running to remember. While many of the bibs honored the memory of all fallen Soldiers, others were more specific.
A group of ladies in red united to run for Pfc. Cole Larsen, military policeman killed in 2004 while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"I miss him every day," said Christi Larsen, his mother.
Larsen decided to participate in the Run for the Fallen while visiting with her daughter Haley Janicek in Clarksville for two weeks.
Janicek is the head volleyball coach at Austin Peay State University, and she gathered the team together to support her at the Run for the Fallen. Her husband, 1st Lt. Matt Janicek, is deployed to Afghanistan.
"I'm here visiting my daughter, and she told me about this event," Larsen said. "So we decided to pull the girls together, and they were all excited and enthusiastic about being here to support the troops. So, I thought it was a good opportunity."
Janicek said she thought it was important for the volleyball team to come, not just because of the personal connection or the ability to fit in some more cross training prior to the start of the Lady Govs season.
"I'm out here, obviously, to run for my brother," Janicek said. "But I think, more importantly, our team is here and we've been part of a military community since Austin Peay's existed here in Clarksville. So I think it's really important for our girls to get more involved in our community and show their support. They know that I have special circumstances, so I think it's a gift for them to be here for me too."
The morning included more than just runners, with strollers and bicyclists also taking part in the events. Many Families brought their children to participate.
Johnna Cloud, the spouse of a deployed 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 'No Slack' Soldier, entertained her 5-year-old son, Gauge, and 4-year-old daughter, Trysta, with pinwheels prior to start of the run.
"I'm running for my husband," Cloud said, as she tried to hold back tears. "He's over there right now, and [I want to] make sure that I'm doing my part."
For more information about other Run for the Fallen events or plans for next year, visit www.runforthefallen.org.