By Skip Vaughn, Editor, Redstone RocketAugust 25, 2008
Maj. Marty Eaton got an idea for the local running community while reading the Air Force Times.
There was an article about the National Run for the Fallen, in which a dedicated team of runners began a run on Flag Day, June 14, across America from Fort Irwin, Calif., to Arlington National Cemetery, one mile for every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. For 10 weeks, team members would mark each mile with an American flag and sign-card in an apolitical reflection of remembrance of each servicemember.
"The people doing the national event asked that local groups hold local events on their last day of the run," said Eaton, a shift leader in the operations center for AMCOM Current Operations, G-3.
He became the chief organizer and run director for the North Alabama Run for the Fallen, a one mile run/walk this Sunday at 8 a.m. at the Huntsville Cross Country Park.
"It's a chance for people in the local area to take part in remembering and honoring those that have died in the war," he said. "Their chance to maybe understand that this represents a lot of individuals rather than just a mass of people."
In early July, Eaton took his idea for the local run to Huntsville Track Club president Dave Purinton and they discussed how to make it happen. He also talked with Suzanne Taylor of the Fleet Feet running store.
The Huntsville Track Club took the run on as one of its events.
"That helped out because they're helping me to advertise it, helping me to organize it. It even falls under their liability insurance as one of any of the other events in the local area," Eaton said. "The Fleet Feet Sports, a local running store, has also been very helpful in printing the running numbers, getting word and information out and some of the other details in putting on a run."
There is no fee to run but donations -- $5 or more suggested -- will be accepted and will support the Wounded Warrior Project. A signed waiver is required to participate.
Individuals will each run or walk one mile in honor of a specific fallen warrior; they'll wear a running number which lists that person's order among the fallen, the name, rank, branch of service, and date of death. This memorial run will coincide with the final day of the National Run for the Fallen (www.runforthefallen.org).
"As a Soldier, even though I don't know any of these people personally, they're all brothers and sisters," Eaton said. "I've had a number of friends deployed, some wounded. Luckily, none of my friends have been killed. It's just important that we take time to recognize the ones that have been lost."
Eaton, who turned 50 on Aug. 19, will be among the runners. So will his wife, Carol, 50, a nurse who was a major in the Army Reserves. They'll probably be joined by their daughter Shana, 23, an eighth-grade teacher at Challenger Middle School, and son Sean, 17, a Grissom High senior and football player.
"It's a way to support the military," Carol Eaton said, "but also to support our lost in the Iraq war. It's a small token we can do to show our appreciation for the loss of life that's been experienced."
Post-race refreshments will be provided. For more information, call Maj. Marty Eaton at 882-3706 or visit www.huntsvilletrackclub.org.