gas mask runner
Staff Sgt. Marc Dibernardo, E Company, 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, runs for Soldiers wounded in combat in the North Shore Marathon with assistance from members of Team Red, White, and Blue at North Shore, Hawaii, May 1, 2011.

NORTH SHORE, Hawaii (Army News Service, May 11, 2011) -- People run grueling 26-mile marathons for all kinds of reasons -- for a personal challenge, because they're competitive, or maybe because it's just a great way to stay physically fit.

None of those are the primary reasons why Staff Sgt. Marc Dibernardo pounds pavement.

A member of E Company, 2-25th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, Dibernardo runs to raise cash for the support and recovery of wounded warriors, and he's been running donned in shorts, shoes, t-shirt -- and gas mask since 2003.

While he runs for all wounded warriors - Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Soldiers, Dibernardo's participation in the North Shore Marathon on May 1, 2011, was in memory of 10 friends he lost either in Afghanistan or who succumbed back home from their combat wounds.

After crossing the finish line, Dibernardo was unofficially informed he finished the course in 3 hours, 49 minutes and 42 seconds, breaking the previous world record by five minutes for an individual running a marathon in a gas mask.

Sponsored by Team Red, White and Blue, a non-profit organization that aids wounded warriors by sponsoring extreme athletes, Dibernardo helps the team with a unique support system for veterans, families and friends recovering from injuries received from combat operations.

Donations raised by the team are used to fund the reintegration of wounded warriors back into the civilian world after being released from the hospital or military.

Dibernardo's quick to point out - "the fallen and wounded warriors are the heroes. I'm not a hero. They're heroes," he said. "This is the best way I know how to let the world know about the sacrifices being made by our Soldiers."

In addition to his team sponsors, members from the battalion chain of command rallied behind him.

"I'm very proud of him, it's an outstanding thing what he's doing and a great reason why he's doing it," said 1st Sgt. Henry Wood.

"I'm really proud of him it's incredible what he is doing running a marathon and in a gas mask. We let him do his own training during physical fitness time," added his company commander Capt. Lindsay Maples.

Page last updated Wed May 11th, 2011 at 15:13