By Julian Pollitt, 15th JROTC BattalionJune 5, 2013
BAMBERG, Germany (June 5, 2013) -- U.S Army Garrison Bamberg was struck with tragedy very recently. Four Soldiers -- 1st Lt. Stephen "Chase" Prasnicki, Sgt. 1st Class Kevin E. Lipari, Sgt. Enrique Mondragon and Cpl. Darrion Hicks -- lost their lives in service of their country. The garrison's 15th JROTC Battalion was quick to create an event to properly honor the lives and service of these fallen warriors.
The JROTC Cadets of USAG Bamberg honored the garrison's fallen heroes May 10 by holding a 12-hour memorial relay run. The cadet's wished to raise $1000 dollars to donate to Homes For Our Troops, an organization that builds homes for wounded Soldiers.
More than 300 people showed up to participate and honor the fallen. The runners were broken into 25 teams and ran for 12 hours, racking up a total of almost 1500 miles. The runners pushed themselves to their limits, in some cases to the point of exhaustion, and in one case to the point of vomiting on the track.
The cadets met their goal of raising $1000 quickly. By the end of the run, they had eclipsed their originally intended goal and raised $5325.
"We never expected to raise over 5 times our original goal, especially with such a small (JROTC) battalion," said Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Sharon Codman, who played an active role in planning the event.
The run was part of a Service Learning Initiative that is conducted every year by JROTC battalion. The SLI has awarded the battalion the Gold Star, which distinguishes them as an Honor Unit with Distinction for the fifth year in a row.
Maj. Madonna Roberts, the cadet's senior Army instructor, explained the importance of the yearly Service Learning projects.
"It's an opportunity for cadets to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real life," said Roberts. "In my 8 years of teaching here, this is the biggest project the cadets have ever taken on."
The project was originally the idea of Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Kristin Feezor, a cadet who permanently changed stations before being able to see her work come to fruition. Despite her move, Feezor still stayed in regular contact with her former battalion to observe the progress of the project.
To advertise the run, the cadets posted fliers throughout the garrison and met privately with each battalion to hand out pamphlets personally. The cadets were also interviewed by AFN and had a radio spot created to have the run advertised even further.