FORT HOOD, Texas -- The 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division received the Army Marathon military unit award, July 18 here at the Ironhorse Chapel.
Taking the top four runners from each unit, the Ironhorse Brigade received the lowest collective score of 399, earning them the first place military unit award out of more than 1,000 runners.
"It feels great to have helped my brigade place so well," said San Salvador native, Spc. Jorge Hernandez, the Ironhorse first place finisher assigned to E Forward Support Company of the 2nd "Stallion" Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment.
The Army Marathon organization began long before the first Army Marathon was conducted. It was observed that veterans were returning from deployments with a wide variety of challenges and not enough resources to support their needs.
Four retired service members, Richard Archer, Gene Deutscher, Jay Taggart, and Ed Bandas, were looking to make a difference and decided to come up with a plan to raise funds and awareness, fill-in the gaps of veterans services and to highlight the sacrifices of our service members.
"Sometimes our service men and women need a little more help than current programs allow," explained Belton, Texas native, Ed Bandas, a coordinator for The Army Marathon. "Our mission is to augment those efforts while creating an honored tradition, an atmosphere of athletic achievement and competition and at the same time allowing our communities that surround Fort Hood to honor these heroes as well."
The first Army Marathon took place Sunday, April 21, 2013 in honor of the 238th anniversary of the 'shot heard around the world,' which was the beginning of the American Revolution, April 19, 1775.
The 26.2-mile marathon began in Killeen, Texas running through Harker Heights, Nolanville, Belton and ending in Temple, Texas.
"I am proud to be here with our team … to present the 'Strength in Unity Trophy' to (the Ironhorse Brigade), to keep proudly," Bandas stated during the ceremony. "Also knowing it will be the only trophy that ever bears the words 'Inaugural Army Marathon."
The trophy got its name 'Strength in Unity,' from Aesop's Fables classic tale of "The bundle of sticks."
The tale explains how a father calls his sons to his deathbed and hands his oldest a bundle of sticks. He asks him to break them; he was unsuccessful. The father then unbundles the sticks and hands one to each son, asking them to break it, of course, they were unsuccessful.
"His wise counsel to his sons was, 'There is strength in unity,' suggesting his sons should forever stick together and protect each other as brothers," added Bandas. "How appropriate for our military folks that this trophy should embody the lesson we have all learned during our service to our country."
Bandas explained the purpose of the marathon was to raise money for qualified veteran charities. Raising about 25,000 dollars, Bandas believes their goal was reached.
"For being the first year that is really good, and it can only continue to grow," Bandas added.
The marathon will be held annually, in Killeen, Texas, on the first Sunday in March.
"I am proud our brigade finished so well," Hernandez concluded. "It feels good to have accomplished so much."